Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls, or gỏi cuốn, are also called salad rolls or summer rolls. They are light and refreshing, and much healthier than fried spring rolls. Over ten years ago my friend, Quentin, invited me over to dinner at his mother’s house. She is originally from Vietnam* and put out a spread of delicious ingredients for us to roll our own fresh spring rolls. I’ve never forgotten it. (*Similar to how I’ve learned a lot of Mexican sweets living in San Diego, we also benefit from a large Vietnamese population here.)
I think “Salad Rolls” is a better description for fresh spring rolls, as they are light and fresh with lot’s of greens, herbs and lean proteins. Many restaurants also put in rice vermicelli noodles. I took it one step healthier and used raw zucchini “noodles” made from cutting an enormous garden zucchini with a julienne peeler. Handy gadget. The wrappers are made from rice. The rice paper comes in hard discs that are softened in a few seconds in warm water.
How To Make Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls
You can’t get more straightforward instructions than the back of the packaging!
Here are my suggested fillings, feel free to only use what you like and to get creative:
- Grilled Shrimp, Leftover Chicken, Steak or Tofu
- Salad Greens
- Fresh Herbs including Thai Basil, Mint, Cilantro , Scallions and Lemon Basil (use a LOT of herbs)
- Cooked Rice Vermicelli or Raw Zucchini Noodles
- Chopped Peanuts
- Bean and Pea Sprouts and other raw veggies
Dipping Sauces for Salad Rolls:
- The most common is a peanut sauce, easy recipe follows.
- Another traditional is called nước mắm pha, which is a clear, sweet and sour with a little fish sauce. A girl I once worked with gave me her mom’s recipe, I’ll have to hunt around and see if I still have it.
- You can’t go wrong with Sriracha!
Easy Peanut Dipping Sauce for Fresh Spring Rolls
- 1 part peanut butter
- 1 part Hoisin sauce
That’s it! Warm in a sauce pan over low heat to mix easier. You can add a little water to thin, if needed.
True story: When I first made these rolls at home, I went to a Vietnamese market in search of peanut dipping sauce. I asked the young man stocking where it was. He didn’t think they had it and asked his grandmother. She laughed and (with her grandson translating) explained they always made it. She swore all you needed was these two ingredients. I usually can’t restrain myself from throwing in a little sriracha and nước mắm, but try it as is!
The best prices are in Asian markets. These ingredients are pretty common, so you can usually find them on the “ethnic” aisle of big grocery stores. If you can’t find them easily, I’ve included some affiliate links to Amazon. Have fun and let me know if you have any questions!