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Cooking with parents: Peli Peli owner makes Vietnamese dish with his mom

HOUSTON – If you haven’t had Vietnamese spring rolls yet, you’re missing out. They’re the perfect starter dish for the summer season, and we’ve got the perfect recipe for you to try. Peli Peli Co-owner Thomas Nguyen shares his family’s take on the staple, plus some insider secrets from his mom, Lan Nguyen.

Thomas Nguyen, Co-owner of Peli Peli, shares his mother's recipe for Vietnamese spring rolls and memories of mom and food from his childhood.
Thomas Nguyen, Co-owner of Peli Peli, shares his mother's recipe for Vietnamese spring rolls and memories of mom and food from his childhood. (KPRC)

“This is actually the first time in 40 years I’ve been able to cook with my mom,” said Thomas. “I know that sounds terrible.”

Thomas admits he didn’t full appreciate his mother’s cooking until he grew older. As a child, and as with most children, he disliked vegetables and spicy foods. Lan says Thomas often preferred the American food he would get at school lunches over her home-cooking.

Thomas Nguyen, Co-owner of Peli Peli, shares his mother's recipe for Vietnamese spring rolls and memories of mom and food from his childhood.
Thomas Nguyen, Co-owner of Peli Peli, shares his mother's recipe for Vietnamese spring rolls and memories of mom and food from his childhood. (KPRC)

“When he was young, he was really picky, and he didn’t want to eat the Vietnamese food, but I made him eat it,” said Lan. “And now he eats everything.”

Both Lan and Thomas laugh at these memories, noting the irony that Thomas is now in the restaurant industry. Looking back, Thomas realizes now how significant an act his mother’s cooking actually was for others.

Thomas Nguyen, Co-owner of Peli Peli, shares his mother's recipe for Vietnamese spring rolls and memories of mom and food from his childhood.
Thomas Nguyen, Co-owner of Peli Peli, shares his mother's recipe for Vietnamese spring rolls and memories of mom and food from his childhood. (KPRC)

“Especially in Asian cultures, you have to twist their arm sometimes to make her tell you how much she’s proud of you or how much she loves you,” said Thomas. “I realized when I grew up that her way of telling me how much she loved me was feeding me.”

Food is definitely a love language for many, and trust me, you’ll like what these Vietnamese spring rolls are saying. In addition to being super tasty, they’re also very simple and healthy. Check out Lan’s family recipe below. For the full interview, watch the video above.

Thomas Nguyen, Co-owner of Peli Peli, shares his mother's recipe for Vietnamese spring rolls and memories of mom and food from his childhood.
Thomas Nguyen, Co-owner of Peli Peli, shares his mother's recipe for Vietnamese spring rolls and memories of mom and food from his childhood. (KPRC)

VIETNAMESE SPRING ROLLS

Ingredients:

  • 9 cooked large shrimps
  • 4 oz. cooked pork shoulder steak
  • 2 oz. cooked and rinsed rice vermicelli
  • 8 rice papers
  • 6 lettuce leaves
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 4 tbsp. apple sauce
  • 2 tbsp. water (optional)
  • Chili garlic sauce
  • Roasted and crushed peanuts

Directions:

  1. Cook rice vermicelli per package instructions
  2. Cook pork and slice into thin strips; set aside
  3. Cook shrimps and slice in half length-wise; set aside
  4. Dip one rice paper wrapper in hot water for a few seconds to soften
  5. Lay wrapper flat and place lettuce, mint, vermicelli and pork on top
  6. Place 3 shrimp halves on top with the skin down
  7. Leave about 2 in. gap on each side
  8. Fold uncovered sides inward, then tightly roll the wrapper
  9. Repeat steps 4 - 8 for remaining rice paper
  10. For sauce, mix hoisin, peanut butter and apple sauce in a small pot
  11. Add water for thinner consistency if desired
  12. Place pot over heat, bring to boil and remove from heat
  13. Place mixture in a small sauce bowl
  14. Garnish with chili sauce and crushed peanuts
  15. Serve, dip and enjoy!

To connect with Thomas Nguyen, click here.


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