First day of Lent recipe

Vegetarian rice rolls, 素腸粉

Lent has begun and it is the time for simple, meatless meals. One Lenten dish I like to make is vegetarian rice rolls. Chopped cilantro is spread on rice noodle sheets which are rolled up and streamed.

I bought fresh rice noodles from a local noodle shop, Hon’s. They are uncut and sold in 2 lb or 5lb packages.

Fresh rice noodles in slabs, 沙河粉


Sheets of fresh rice noodles
Chopped cilantro
Sesame oil
Garnish: Toasted sesame seeds


  1. Open the slab of rice noodles carefully and peel off a sheet. Put the sheet on a cutting board and cut into rectangles about 6″ long. I used the folded edges as a guide for the width.
  2. Spread the chopped herbs on the rectangle and roll it up like a jelly roll.
  3. Place the roll, seam side down on an oiled plate. Continue rolling as many as you need.
  4. Place the plate in a steamer and steam for about 5 minutes until the noodles are soft and translucent.
  5. Drizzle some sesame oil over the rolls and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
  6. Serve with soy sauce or hot sauce.


  1. It is best to use fresh noodles as they are pliable. They harden and become brittle after they have been refrigerated.
  2. Here is a recipe if you want to make the rice noodles from scratch.
  3. To soften refrigerated noodles – Bring some water to a boil in a wide, shallow pan or wok. Turn off the heat and wait till the boiling has subsided. Slide the noodles into the hot water and submerge them for about a minute. Use a wide skimmer to remove the slab. Or slide a plate under the noodles and then drain the water. The noodles should have softened but they shouldn’t be mushy. Cool the noodles. They should be pliable and you’ll be able to separate the sheets.
  4. Use a lot of cilantro. The rolls look very nice with bright green bits showing through the translucent noodles.
  5. Any leftover sheets can be refrigerated and cut into strips for soup or fried noodles. I would advise against softening a second time in boiling water for rice rolls.
  6. If you don’t feel like going to all this trouble, use dried rice noodles rather than sheets. Soften the noodles by soaking them in cold water for about fifteen minutes. Drain. Mix the herbs and sesame oil with the noodles and steam for five minutes.

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