Houston Chronicle Sunday

Cuc Lam’s Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls


Self-taught cook Cuc Lam first gained the attention of Houston foodies by hosting pop-ups in her home and at local restaurant­s, preparing multicultu­ral Asian dishes. That led to her first job as chef of Sing, the Heights Malaysian restaurant, now closed. But Lam is still cooking, and her new restaurant, a banh mi and coffee shop called Yelo, is opening in Katy in a partnershi­p with Alex Au-Yeung, proprietor of Phat Eatery, the Malaysian street-food restaurant in Katy Asian Town. At Yelo, next door to Phat Eatery, Lam serves classic banh mi and new interpreta­tions including beef rendang and curry chicken, as well as a take on a French dip made with beef brisket dipped in pho broth.

Lam, of Chinese and Vietnamese descent, also is versed in shrimp spring rolls. This is her recipe.

8 large shrimp

4 large green leaf lettuce leaves

½ cup bean sprouts Fresh cilantro, to taste Fresh mint, to taste

4 spring roll rice paper sheets (about 8 ½-inch diameter) Warm water (for dipping rice paper)

4-8 cucumber slices (sliced thin, lengthwise about 5 inches long)

4 ounces rice vermicelli (cooked, drained, cooled) Mango/papaya salad (recipe follows)


Boil shrimp in shell until just cooked. Allow to cool, remove shells and slice in half lengthwise.

You will have 16 slices of shrimp.

Wash lettuce and herbs and allowto dry.

Fill a shallowbow­l with warmwater. Dip rice paper inwater to soften, so entire surface iswet on all sides. Do this quickly; do not soak.

Lay the rice paper on a clean surface. Place 1 lettuce leaf toward the lower half of the rice paper. On top of lettuce place ¼ of bean sprouts, 1 or 2 slices of cucumber, 1 ounce of cooked vermicelli, 1 to 2 tablespoon­s of mango/papaya salad and leaves of cilantro and mint to taste. These stuffing elements should be spread about 5 inches in length.


Fold left side inward, then right side. Fromthe bottombegi­n rolling up. At halfway, lay down 4 slices of shrimp. Continue tucking and rolling up. The shrimp

will be visible through the paper, so arrange them attractive­ly. Servewith peanut hoisin sambal.


1 mango

1 papaya

3 tablespoon­s sugar

3 tablespoon­s water

3 tablespoon­s white vinegar


Grate or julienne mango and papaya. Toss together in a bowl with sugar, water and vinegar to create a simple, slawlike salad. You will have much more than needed for 4 spring rolls.


1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon sesame oil

½ cup hoisin sauce

2 tablespoon­s chunky peanut butter

½ cup coconut soda

1 tablespoon sriracha

1 tablespoon sambal olek (or another tablespoon of sriracha)

2 tablespoon­s black vinegar (white is fine) Juice of one small lime Crushed peanuts


In a pan, sauté garlic in sesame oil overmedium heat for 30 seconds.

Add hoisin, peanut butter and coconut soda and stir until peanut butter is mixed inwell. Add sriracha, sambal olek and vinegar and continue stirring. Turn off heat and squeeze in lime. Stir, allowto cool and place sauce in a bowl. Sprinkle with about 2 tablespoon­s chopped peanuts. Serve.


Sambal olek is a chili paste that can be found at Asianmarke­ts. Spring roll rice paper wrappers and coconut soda also can be found in Asian markets.


From Cuc Lam, executive chef Yelo

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Cuc Lam

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