Bi cuon: pork and rinds rolls
Crunchy and healthy rolls with a great taste.
(rolls courtesy of Flickr and stu_spivack).
ETA: following Ravenous Couple’s suggestion, I’m making this my entry for the Delicious Vietnam blogging event. Delicious Vietnam, co-founded by Anh and Hong and Kim of Ravenous Couple, is basically a celebration of Vietnamese cuisine–recipes and love paeans to this wonderful food. December is the last edition, hosted by Anh–if you want to cook up Vietnamese food, get going to win fabulous prizes (and cook awesome food, naturally. It’s kind of a win-win situation).
Bì cuốn is a perennial favourite of mine, but (at least in France), it’s not easily found in Vietnamese restaurants; and the recipes for this are few and far between. I ended up translating mine from a Vietnamese cooking website . Bì means “pork skin”, and cuốn, of course, refers to anything that is rolled. And that’s what you get: cooked, shredded pork with pork rinds to give it a nice crunchiness, all wrapped up in a fabulous salad-rich roll, and dipped in nước mắm. Doesn’t it sound awesome?
So, onwards to the recipe!
(adapted from Nghệ Thuật Nấu Ăn)
- 500g cooked pork meat (I used pork butt, but it's fairly flexible. Your leftovers from roasts are good for this)
- 50-75g shredded, cooked pork rind (see note in the text RE quantities of this)
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 tblsp sugar
- 2 tblsp jasmine rice
- 1.5 tblsp salt
- coconut milk (optional)
- Round rice papers, 18cm
- 1 green salad
- 1 bunch herbs (red perilla and fish mint)
- 1 volume nước mắm (fish sauce)
- 1 volume sugar
- 1 volume lime juice
- 2 volumes water
- bit of chilies and garlic (for 6mL of lime juice, I put in a teaspoon of chilli garlic sauce and one crushed garlic clove. But I like garlic. You might want to skip the clove)
- So, before we start, a word of caution about the pork rind. Here in France, they only sell it dried; I believe in the US you have a choice of frozen or dried. The weight is for COOKED RECONSTITUTED pork rind. Don't do what I did and use 100g dried pork rind, or let's just say the meat is going to be kind of lost in the midst of the pork rind, and it's not going to taste like much. The picture above with the rolls has a good idea of what it should look like; I think 50g-75g of rind to 500g of meat should do the trick. (as mentioned before, I used 100g dried rind--emphatically not a good idea. As we say, live and learn...).
- Soak the pork rind in hot water for an hour.
- Cut up the pork and cook it in boiling water or boiling coconut milk (you can use coconut milk for a slightly deeper taste, but honestly it's going to end up a bit drowned under the other ingredients). Wait until the meat is done.
- Prepare the roasted rice: on a dry pan on moderate heat, cook the 2 tablespoons of rice until they turn a deep brown and smell good. Take them off the heat, and grind them into powder (with a mortar and pestle, or with a spice mill. You might be able to buy thính in a SE Asian market; but here in France, finding it pre-cooked is mission impossible).
- You can re-use the pan and the hot stove for the next part, which is frying the chopped garlic until it's fragrant, and setting it aside.
- Fish out the pork rind when it's soft and white, and set it to dry.
- Meanwhile, you can mix the dipping sauce by combining the sugar and warm water, and then the lime and fish sauce and garlic/chillies. Let it rest in the fridge for a bit.
- Take the pork, and shred it with your trusty kitchen knife. Basically, cut up smallish (2-3mm) pieces.
- Take the rind, and also chop it up into smallish pieces (trust me, an indispensable step. Cooked pork rind as it is sold in Asian market can have rather long yarns of rind...).
- Mix everything--garlic, roasted rice, pork rind, pork, sugar and salt-- in a large salad bowl. Et voilà, you have bì! You now get the right to wait a little, as bì (like revenge) is a dish best served cold. Seriously, all the Vietnamese rolls are best thought of as giant salads, so cold meat is generally preferred.
- To serve, put the bì, the dipping sauce, the herbs and the rice papers on the table, along with a bowl of warm water.
- Dip the rice paper in warm water until slightly supple, put a salad on top of the paper; some meat, 2-3 leaves of fish mint, 2-3 leaves of red perilla, and shape the roll. I usually fold both sides of the wet rice paper towards the center to make a sort of proto-enveloppe, and then roll the paper upwards very tightly. Youtube has plenty of nice demonstration videos if you want; and, if all else fails, you will have ugly-looking but still very much yummy rolls, so not much to lose...
- The goal is to look somewhat like the picture of the rolls: the meat in the center, the salad wrapped around it. Tricky proposition, but doable (even the H, who is not the world's foremost roller, managed it) Then, you know, proceed as usual: dip into sauce, bite into roll, dip into sauce again, and so on and so forth until you feel full of yummy food 🙂
 You’re now having this mental picture of me being super-fluent in the language. Ha ha ha. I wish. I used Google Translate to get the vocabulary I didn’t know, and completed with the bits I did know (the Google Translate output making no sense, as is often the case with automatic translations from Vietnamese).