Loaded with beef, crunchy texture, and heady sweet flavors, this specialty of southern Vietnam echoes Chinese mu shu pork and Malaysian and Singaporean poh piah. But instead of rolling the filling in a wheat flour– based wrapper, rice paper is used.
Beef and Jicama Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Bò Bía) are traditionally made by street vendors in a to-go format that recalls a Mexican burrito. When we lived in Saigon, my sister Ha and her best friend, Loan, were addicted to the rolls. On the way home from school, my parents or our driver would take them by one of the hawkers strategically positioned on a street corner, hot wok at the ready. Hand rolls and money were exchanged through the car window, with the girls giggling as they dove into their favorite snack.
Because we don’t have those wonderful street vendors here, our family makes Beef and Jicama Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Bo Bia) at home as a prelude to a big meal or the focus of a light lunch. We set things up at the table for everyone to assemble his or her own rolls. This do-it-yourself approach is ideal because these rolls, unlike salad rolls, can be messy and should be eaten as soon as they are made.
You can plump and slice the sausages several hours in advance, then cover and leave at room temperature. If the fat in the sausages congeals before you are ready to eat (which can be unappetizing), reheat the slices briefly in a dry skillet or microwave oven.
This Vietnamese Spring Roll is adapted from the book "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen" by Andrea Nguyen. Copyright © 2006 by Andrea Nguyen.