Traditional Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls (Gỏi cuốn) consist of pork, shrimp, lettuce and herbs wrapped in soft chewy rice paper. They are beautiful to look at and great as a refreshing appetizer or even a light meal.
Each region has their own version of goi cuon. The most traditional version in the Southern part of the country has pork, shrimp, rice vermicelli noodles, lettuce and fresh herbs. This appetizer is commonly served with dipping sauce, for examples: hoisin peanut sauce or a basic Vietnamese dipping sauce called Nuoc Cham.
How to make Vietnamese Fresh Spring Roll ?
First, you will need:
- Rice paper wrappers (bánh tráng): they come in different size and shape. I often use the round ones with a diameter of 8.5” – 9”. You will sometimes see the square ones which can also be used.
- Shrimps: the shrimps provide sweetness to the rolls. Drop them in boiling water for a couple of minutes so they are just cooked through. It’s important not to overcook or they’ll be rubbery and dry.
- Pork: you can choose from pork shoulder, tenderloin or pork belly. I like to use fairly lean pork. The pork shouldn’t be overcooked or they’ll be so dry and tasteless.
- Lettuce: use soft lettuce to avoid tearing the wrappers.
- Fresh herbs: typically, chives and Thai basil (hung que) are used in these Southern Vietnamese spring rolls. You can also use cilantro, spearmint or even peppermint, depending on what you can find.
- Rice vermicelli noodles (bún): they add softness as well as give structure to the rolls.
How to Wrap Vietnamese Spring Rolls ?
Before the wrapping step, make sure you have prepped all other ingredients, including:
- Cook and slice pork thinly
- Poach and slice shrimps in half lengthwise
- Cut lettuce into smaller pieces or strips so it’ll be easy to roll
- Remove tough stems from the herbs
- Prepare vermicelli noodles if using
- Prepare other fillings you want to add
It’s really easy to wrap the rolls
Add warm water to a plate and soak the rice paper sheet for about 5-10 seconds. Soak the rice paper just enough so that it is pliable and easy to handle, but remove the sheet before it gets too soft and sticky. Lay rice paper on a plate and begin to assemble your roll.
Add lettuce towards the bottom of the rice paper. Leave 1 to 1½ inches of space on either side of the rice paper. Layer with mint and chives. Try to not add too many items because it will be harder to roll and might tear your rice paper.
Add shrimp in the middle of the rice paper with the orange skin facing down.
Layer the sliced pork on top of the shrimp.
Add the noodles across the vegetables, spread evenly across.
Fold the left and right sides towards the middle so that it’s snug. Lay some chives lengthwise with one end poking out. Then fold the bottom up to cover the noodles. You want to keep the roll tight, so lightly squeeze it together as you roll. Continue to roll upwards to complete the spring roll.
Just a few things to note here:
- Avoid soaking the wrappers in too much water since they can be torn
- Don’t soak the wrappers in too little water either, or they may crack
- Don’t overstuff the wrappers which can also break the rolls
Peanut dipping sauce
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 8 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2-3 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 c water
- Sambal chile paste optional
In a pan over medium heat, saute garlic in oil until fragrant. Add in hoisin sauce, peanut butter, and water and stir thoroughly.
Bring to boil, and then immediately turn off the heat and place into a heat safe dipping bowl.
Leave the Sambal chile paste on the side so others can add to their own dipping bowl as needed.