Fresh Rolls or Summer Rolls (I’ve seen both terms used interchangeably) are Vietnamese rolls known as goi cuon. It’s like a deep fried spring roll, except it’s not fried at all. Don’t get me wrong, many of the ingredients are different but the concept is similar in that you wrap an assortment of ingredients together snugly into a blanket.
The fillings in these rolls can come in hundreds of combinations and no two recipes are ever the same. However, for the most part they all have noodles, vegetables, protein and rice paper.
I haven’t made these at home in a while, but we found a restaurant that allows you to build your own at your table. And let’s face it, who doesn’t like playing with their food? 🙂
We ordered a platter of ingredients containing minced shrimp on sugar cane (chao tom), grilled beef wrapped in betel leaves (bo cuon la), thin vermicelli and vegetables (rau song). It’s a bit messy to make until you get the hang of wrapping it, but it’s fun! And without further ado, here is a loose recipe and instructions on how to make these delicious rolls! You can omit or add other things if you choose. Like I said, there are hundreds of combos and it’s up to you and your imagination. 🙂
- Rice paper (banh hoi)
- Thin vermicelli, cooked (you can use thick too, but it may make it harder to wrap)
- Lettuce leaves
- Bean sprouts
- Assortment of vegetables julienned (cucumber, peppers, carrots, etc.)
- A protein cooked and marinated like grilled beef, pork, chicken, etc. sliced thinly or cooked deveined shrimp cut in halves lengthwise
- Herbs like mint, cilantro, Thai basil, etc. (optional)
- Dipping sauce (see below)
Here’s where the fun begins! First, gently take a sheet of rice paper. It seems a bit fragile, but it’s a bit sturdier than it looks.
Dip the rice paper all the way around in some warm water. The restaurant had this neat little pink apparatus, but you can do this simply on a shallow plate or bowl. As long as it’s wet, it will soften.
Next, choose your ingredients. Every time you make a roll, you can always change it up too.
Plop your ingredients on top of the rice paper in a neat little pile in the center. Try to build it so that the ingredients are narrow and long in the center of the sheet to make the next step easier.
Finally, wrap the roll like you would with a spring roll or burrito or sushi. In other words, start from one of the long sides, roll it over to the other side of your fillings and start rolling. Some people like to leave the ends open, but I like to close at least one side so that the sauce and juices don’t come spewing out. Your end product, though it may not be perfect (neither are mine!), should look something like this:
Fresh rolls seem intimidating and complicated, but they’re really easy to make. You can even prepare different sauces for dipping, ranging from fish sauce, hoisin sauce or even a peanut sauce. I usually just stick to hoisin sauce. You can experiment with different things too and make a dessert fresh roll, using a mix of fruits like strawberries, mangoes and kiwi and dip it in a fruit sauce or maybe drizzle some honey on top. Mmm…