Spring is finally here and I think it is the perfect time to share this recipe for risol bihun - vermicelli spring rolls, Indonesian street hawker style :D
What you need
One thing that is typically true for all sort of street food is that the ingredients are usually dirt cheap. When I was a kid, one risol was only Rp 100,- (about US$ 0.01!). I am sure it is much more expensive now, but I am willing to bet that it is still nowhere close to US$ 1.00 even today. With that in mind, you need spring roll skins, rice vermicelli (super important, don’t get the mung bean one), carrot, celery (Chinese variety if possible), shallot, garlic, ground ebi (dried shrimps) such as this one, salt, sugar, pepper, and turmeric.
Two-step cooking process
Preparing risol is a two-step cooking process. First you need to fry the vermicelli. A wok, or a large cast iron skillet is perfect for this job. You can tweak the seasonings for your vermicelli, but make sure you end up with dry fried vermicelli since even a bit of liquid will make soggy risol. The second step is to wrap the fried vermicelli in spring roll sheets. I try to stuff as much as I can per sheet and I end up with 16 rolls. If you are more conservative, you can easily end up with 20 or even 24 rolls. Finally, deep fry the wrapped vermicelli rolls until golden brown.
Chili sauce or bird eye chilies
If you were to buy risol from street hawker, you will definitely be presented with a bunch of bird eye chilies along with your order of risol. That’s because you are supposed to take a bite of risol, then a bite of chili, and so on. If you think that is a bit too much, you can pair your risol with your choice of chili sauce instead. If you are in the State, sriracha should be a good choice. Or if you are incline to make your own Indonesian style chili sauce, give this easy sambal lampung a try :)
Risol Bihun - Vermicelli Spring Rolls
- 4 tablespoon oil
- 50 gram shallot, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoon ground dried shrimp (I use Maesri shrimp powder)
- 100 gram carrot, julienned
- 50 gram Chinese celery (or standard celery), thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 to 3 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)
- 250 gram dried rice vermicelli, soaked in cold water until soft, then drained
- about 20 to 24 spring roll skins
- bird eye chilies
- chili sauce, such as sriracha
- Heat oil in a wok over medium high heat. Sauté shallot and garlic until fragrant, then add ground dried shrimp, carrot, and celery. Stir to mix well. Season with sugar, salt, pepper, and turmeric. Mix well.
- Reduce heat to medium, then add vermicelli to the wok, and stir with large chopsticks (or tongs) until fully cooked. Taste test and adjust salt/sugar/pepper as needed.
- Turn off heat and transfer the cooked vermicelli to a large mixing bowl and let it cool to room temperature.
- Take a piece of spring roll skin, heap about 1/4 cup of cooked vermicelli at the center, and wrap. You can seal the skin with either water or egg white. Repeat until all cooked vermicelli is used up.
- Heat a pot of oil for deep frying. Once the oil is hot and shimmering (~ 170 Celsius / 340 Fahrenheit), fry the spring rolls, in batches, until golden brown.
- Set aside over wire rack to remove excess oil.
- Serve immediately with bird eye chilies or your choice of chili sauce