It seems I can’t let a summer pass without making fresh rolls – a couple of rounds at least. And because I am a weirdo, I am incapable of making any of the traditional versions. Don’t get me wrong, I love the rice paper rolls from my local Vietnamese place and I have enjoyed a shrimp roll or two in my day. But as far as I’m concerned, these classic rolls are best when they’re made by seasoned hands. My lemongrass chicken rolls will never approach the perfection I get from Pho Challenge up the street from me. So, I mess with the fillings and what I have learned from my experiments is anything you can put in a sandwich you can put in a rice paper roll. And these Avocado BLT Fresh Rolls are further evidence of my findings.
This isn’t the first time I’ve turned a beloved sandwich into rice paper rolls. Remember these Lobster Fresh Rolls from last year? But honestly, I’m surprised it took me so long to try my hand at these Avocado BLT Fresh Rolls. It is such a simple concept. And the Avocado BLT is in my top five sandwiches. I’ve eaten so many, if you could be a BLT expert, I would be one. And yet, I never thought of this until a month ago. It’s just a shame, I could’ve been eating these rolls so much sooner. But enough about my BLT-related regrets, let’s dig into these rolls.
Now, this recipe starts with arguably the most important part – the bacon. I like to cook my bacon in the oven because it gives me a greater sense of control. I like to keep my stovetop grease-splatter-free and frankly, I’ve lost too many great T-shirts to bacon-grease-related incidents. Plus, putting the bacon in the oven is easy. You don’t even have to preheat the oven. You just turn it on, pop the bacon in, set a timer, and walk away. It results in perfect bacon every time.
The timing for the bacon in the recipe below is for thick-cut bacon. When I buy standard bacon, I usually have to trim the cook-time back by about 5 minutes. Also, I like high-baked bacon. Basically, I like the edges to be more or less burnt. I understand that bacon doneness is a very personal, opinion-heavy topic. So if this is your first time cooking bacon in the oven, stay close and check on it often. It’s not a souffle, you can open the oven door to take a peek as often as you need to.
Once the bacon is cooked, we have the central ingredient for the accompanying sauce. This Warm Bacon Nuoc Cham is exactly what it sounds like – a love child between a warm bacon vinaigrette and nuoc cham. And you wouldn’t have a warm bacon anything without a little bacon fat. This dipping sauce doesn’t use a huge amount of fat because it doesn’t need it. The flavor of bacon is no shrinking violet, so a little fat goes a long way in this instance. The sauce is rounded out with lime juice, sambal oelek, and nuoc cham’s calling card – fish sauce.
With the sauce mixed and the bacon drained all that remains is assembling the rolls. In my photos, you’ll notice I chose to leave the top of the rolls open. This was a stylistic choice. I felt that it showed off the fillings a little better. But if you would prefer to roll your rolls in a more traditional style with both ends closed, that is totally cool. There are a lot of fillings to contend with when rolling these guys. So choose whatever method and format makes the process easier for you. I prefer to roll mine like a burrito because I rolled quite a few of those in my day.
So that’s everything you need to know about these Avocado BLT Fresh Rolls. No, really, that’s it. This is such a simple, straightforward recipe, that there’s no reason to draw things out. So I will just say this – these rolls are good and I think you should make them.
Avocado BLT Fresh Rolls with Warm Bacon Nuoc Cham
- 8 strips thick-cut bacon
- 8 sheets rice paper
- ½ head red leaf lettuce washed, leaves separated
- ½ cup arugula tightly packed
- ¼ cup pea shoots tightly packed
- 4 mini cucumbers cut into spears
- 4 small tomatoes cut into wedges
- 1 avocado cut into wedges
Warm Bacon Nuoc Cham
- 2 tbsp bacon fat
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tbsp sambal oelek heaping
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 lime juiced
For the Rolls
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the bacon on top. Set the oven to 425°F and place the bacon inside – there's no need to preheat the oven. Cook the bacon for 20 minutes or until it reaches your desired doneness.
- Take the bacon out of the oven and transfer it to a plate lined with a paper towel. Set aside to drain. Pour 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the baking sheet and set it aside.
- Working with a sheet at a time, soak the rice paper in a little water before transferring to a cutting board. Place a red lettuce leaf in the center of the rice paper and add a sprinkling of arugula and pea shoot. Next, add a cucumber spear, a couple of pieces of avocado, 3 tomato wedges, and a piece of bacon.
- Fold one edge over the filling to create a bottom. Then take the end closest to you and roll it away from yourself as you would a burrito. Repeat the remaining sheets of rice paper. Arrange the rolls on a serving platter and set them aside. **
For the Dipping Sauce
- Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Serve immediately alongside the rolls.