Beef and Jicama Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Bo Bia)

Yum
  • Preparation: 20 mins
  • Cooking: 30 mins
  • Skill level: Medium
  • Servings: 4

Description Beef and Jicama Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Bò Bía)

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.

Ingredients

  • 3 Chinese sweet sausages
  • 3 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ⅓ cup dried shrimp, rinsed under hot water and coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef, preferably chuck, coarsely chopped to loosen
  • 1 jicama, about ½ pound, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 thick Egg Sheet made with 2 eggs, quartered and cut into ½-inch-wide strips
  • 1 head soft leaf lettuce such as butter, red leaf, or green leaf, leaves separated
  • 20 rice paper rounds, 8 ½ inches in diameter
  • 1 ½ cups Spicy Hoisin-Garlic Sauce

Method Beef and Jicama Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Bò Bía)

1, In a small skillet, combine the sausages with water to reach halfway up their sides. Bring to a vigorous simmer over medium heat and cook until all the liquid has evaporated. The sausages will soften and plump up. Transfer them to a cutting board to cool.
2, Thinly slice each sausage on the diagonal, creating long slices. Put on a plate and set aside.
3, In a wok or large skillet, combine the oil and garlic over medium-low heat. When the garlic turns a pale blond, raise the heat to medium, add the shrimp, and sauté for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the beef, and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, or until the beef is browned but not cooked through. Add the jicama and continue cooking for about 4 minutes, or until the jicama is soft but still slightly crunchy. Mix in the salt, then taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl and keep warm.
4, To serve the rolls, set out all the components on the table, including separate small plates of Chinese sausage and egg strips, the sautéed beef and jicama, the lettuce leaves, the rice paper rounds and water bowls for dipping them, and the sauce. Explain to guests how to make their own hand rolls. First soften a rice paper round in the water and place on a dinner plate. ( See tips on working with rice paper .) When the rice paper is pliable and tacky, layer the ingredients on top in the following order, a lettuce leaf, some beef and jicama, a few slices of Chinese sausage, 1 or 2 egg strips, and a drizzle of sauce. Wrap up and enjoy.

Chef's Note

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.

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