By Julie Lien.
How often have I looked at Star Anise and wondered what to do with it? Lots of times, and when I have found a recipe using it well, it has always been for baking. Our friend Julie’s mother sent us the stunning recipe direct from her farm in Vietnam. Star Anise’s unique flavor adds complexity to this wonderfully simple recipe that is perfect for a hot summer meal. We made four of these per person, which left just enough room for dessert.
Mama Lien’s Goi Cuon aka Summer Rolls
4 ounces Bean Thread Noodles
12 8″ Rice Paper rounds (plus a few extras just in case some tear)
18 cooked Medium Shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 pound Pork Belly (substitute pork leg/butt for a leaner cut). This can be cut into chunks before cooking to make handling easier.
8 Star Anises
1 fresh Lemon Grass stalk, cut into 3″ pieces, or 3 tablespoons dried Lemon Grass
(buy both Lemon Grass and Star Anise here!)
1 cup fresh Thai or other Basil leaves
1 cup fresh Cilantro leaves (optional)
1 cup fresh Mint leaves
1 Cucumber, peeled, cut into matchstick size (remove the seeds)
12 fresh Chives, cut into 3″ pieces
6 Red Lettuce leaves, cut in halves (just the leafy part)
For Dipping Sauce:
½ cup fresh Lime juice
3 tablespoons Fish Sauce (nuoc nam)
3 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons Sugar
2 fresh Red Thai Chiles, chopped (optional)
For Dipping Sauce (can be prepped ahead):
In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Cover and chill.
In a small saucepan filled with water, add the lemon grass and bring to boil over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until it is just cooked through. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and cool. While the water is still boiling, add the star anises and the pork, making certain the water covers the pork. Reduce to a low simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove the pork and cool.
Put the noodles in a bowl and pour hot water over to cover until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain, rinse under running cold water to cool and set aside.
When the shrimp have cooled, cut each one in half lengthwise. Once the pork has cooled, cut into thin slices. Set the shrimp and pork aside.
For the rice paper, wet both sides quickly under running cold water. Make sure the rice paper is just wet, not soaked through. Place on a cutting board.
Place a lettuce leaf at one end of the rice paper. Make sure it’s placed evenly across the rice paper. Add some noodles, 3 pieces of the pork belly and some leaves of each herb on top of the lettuce leaf.
Add a cucumber slice next to the lettuce filling.
Roll the rice paper over the filling, tucking it underneath. Next, arrange 3 shrimp halves with the sliced side facing up.
Fold in the sides and add a chive over the shrimp.
Continue rolling and keep it as tight as possible. Repeat steps 4-8 until all the shrimp and pork belly is used. Place the rolls on a plate and cover with a slightly damp paper towel. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 hours.