Full of fresh ingredients, Vietnamese spring rolls make for the perfect healthy and quick, grab-and-go lunch or snack.
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Vietnamese fresh spring rolls (goi cuon in Vietnamese) are an incredibly easy, fresh version of the classic fried spring roll. These rolls (also called summer rolls or salad rolls) are light and healthy, full of fresh herbs and crisp ingredients.
Working With Rice Paper
Rice paper wrappers can be tricky to work with, particularly if they are not prepared correctly. But, with a few tips, you’ll be wrapping and rolling in no time.
If you have had trouble working with rice paper in the past, take courage with these tips and try again!
The key to working with rice paper wrappers is to dip them in warm water just long enough to moisten them. (No more than 3-5 seconds.) The paper should actually still be slightly firm when you remove it from the water. The paper will continue to absorb moisture as it sets, making it perfectly pliable for rolling.
So dip it just long enough to make sure all parts of both sides hit the water.
If you find that your wrappers are too soft when it comes time to wrap your roll, you probably dipped it for too long. If you find that the wrappers aren’t pliable and able to stick to themselves when you wrap your roll, you probably did not dip them for long enough.
Don’t worry if it takes a few tries to get a feel for how moist the wrappers need to be.
Every brand of wrappers will be slightly different in thickness and the amount of water they need, so a little trial and error is almost always necessary.
If after a couple of tries you are still having trouble with your wrappers tearing, you may just have very thin wrappers. Try doubling up on the wrappers and using two for each roll (Just make sure they are both moistened on both sides before layering them together!) The extra reinforcement should solve the tearing problem.
Making The Best Fresh Spring Rolls
Using fresh ingredients is a must in spring rolls.
That’s not to say that you can’t get creative and use leftover meats and such to fill your spring rolls. But, you do want to make sure you include at least a few elements with a crunch, like carrot or cucumber matchsticks, bean sprouts, or lettuce.
Fresh herbs are also a must for capturing the Vietnamese fresh spring roll flavor. You’ll be amazed what a few leaves of basil, mint, or cilantro can do to brighten the flavor of the rolls.
The recipe we’re sharing with you today is for traditional Vietnamese pork and shrimp spring rolls.
These rolls typically include rice noodles.
The noodles act as a nice, light filler to the rolls, and make these rolls much more filling than you would expect from such a fresh and light dish.
How To Roll A Spring Roll
There are a few tips to rolling the perfect spring roll.
First, you want to layer your ingredients on the 1/3 of the rice paper closest to you. After layering your ingredients, you will begin to roll by picking up the edge closest to you and pulling it gently over the filling.
Use your fingers to tuck the ingredients under the rice paper, pulling them gently towards you as you bring the paper over.
Once you wrap the roll one half rotation, you will notice that the rice paper begins to stick to itself, sealing the ingredients inside and making it very easy to roll.
For the shrimp and pork rolls, we like to add the shrimp over top of the lettuce side after wrapping the roll one half rotation. This gives the shrimp slices that nice and vibrant, pop-out-at-you, effect.
Continue wrapping the roll until your lettuce/shrimp side is face down. (You should be about 2/3 of the way through your rice paper.) Then fold the two sides in so that they stick the bottom of the roll.
Once the sides are folded in, continue rolling away from you to seal in the sides and finish off your rice paper.
Making Vietnamese Spring Rolls Ahead
Some people will argue that spring rolls are best served immediately, and while they are WONDERFUL eaten right away, we find that they also make a nice, easy, and quick pack-and-go lunch.
To make your spring rolls ahead of time, wrap each roll, individually, in a lightly dampened paper towel and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
When you are ready to eat them, unwrap the rolls from the paper towels and let them set, exposed to the air, for a minute or two before eating. (Letting them set will give the wrappers a moment to dry out and become less tacky to the touch.)
We don’t recommend storing the spring rolls side by side (not wrapped in a paper towel) because the rolls will stick to each other.
If not wrapped in paper towels, the rolls are best if eaten in 24 hours. Wrapping them in damp paper towels will extend their life for 2-3 days.
Feel free to get creative with your roll fillings. These are the perfect way to turn some leftover meat and fresh vegetables into a tasty and healthy, portable lunch!
Here is some more tasty spring role inspiration:
- Vegetable Spring Rolls from Boulder Locavore
- Spring Rolls with Lemongrass Beef from The Little Kitchen
- Spring Roll Salad by From A Chef’s Kitchen
Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls
- 2 oz rice noodles (rice sticks)
- 1/4 lb shrimp, peeled, cooked, and split in half
- 1/4 lb cooked pork, sliced or shredded
- 4 large lettuce leaves, hard veins removed
- 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 1 large handfull fresh cilantro
- 1 large handfull fresh mint
- 1 large handfull fresh Thai basil (Italian basil can be used in a pinch)
- 8 rice paper spring roll wrappers
- Cook the rice noodles according to their package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Mis en place. Get all your roll ingredients chopped and ready before you start on the rolls.
To make the rolls
- Fill a large bowl with warm water. Dip a rice paper wrapper in the bowl, just long enough to cover the entire surface (both sides) with water. (No more than 3-5 seconds.) Place the moistened wrapper on a clean, damp tea towel.
- Layer your ingredients on the third of the wrapper closest to you, starting with a piece of a lettuce leaf, followed by carrot sticks, a few leaves of each herb, some rice noodles, and a little pork.
- After layering your ingredients, you will begin to roll by picking up the edge closest to you and pulling it gently over the filling. Use your fingers to tuck the ingredients under the rice paper, pulling them gently towards you as you bring the paper’s edge over. Continue to roll away from you. Once you wrap the roll one full rotation, you will notice that the rice paper begins to stick to itself, sealing the ingredients inside and making it very easy to roll. For the shrimp and pork rolls, we like to add the shrimp over top of the lettuce after wrapping the roll one full rotation. This gives the shrimp slices that nice and vibrant, pop-out-at-you, effect.
- After adding the shrimp, continue wrapping the roll until your lettuce/shrimp side is face down. (You should be about 2/3 of the way through your rice paper by now.) Fold the sides in and continue rolling away from you until all the rice paper has been used.
- Serve immediately with Hoisin sauce for dipping. Or, wrap each roll in a lightly damp paper towel and store in an airtight container for up to 12 hours.
We’ve updated our pictures since we first shared this recipe on Curious Cuisiniere, but we’ve left some originals here, in case you’ve found us in the past and are looking for that old, familiar image.