Fresh, bright and perfect for summer, learn how to make Fresh Spring Rolls at home with my FAVOURITE 3 Dipping Sauce Recipes.
|Chapter 1||Chapter 2||Chapter 3|
|Why You’ll Love This Recipe||FAQ & Tips||Troubleshooting|
|Chapter 4||Chapter 5||Chapter 6|
|Spring Roll Fillings||3 Dipping Sauce Recipes||Recipe|
The best travel experiences always start around a table (or seated on a milk-crate beside a dirt road).
While travelling through Vietnam ten years ago, one of my fondest memories was learning how to make rice paper and fresh spring rolls from scratch.
After spending 3 days in Ho Chi Minh, I found myself headed towards the Mekong Delta. As I clambered onto the bus, the smoke and scents of the city gradually transformed into the lush countryside. Although hours passed, I sat absorbed by the blur of sights that passed my small bus window. Entire families squeezed onto scooters, rustic temples, rice fields and women gathering clams in ankle-deep water. Eventually, the bus came to a halt and we clambered off.
We had stopped near a cluster of small grass huts, the smell of food wafting from the windows. My stomach growled in hunger. A woman sat beside the entrance of a hut with an assortment of ingredients on a table in front of her. Without knowing what it was, I purchased one. With a flick of her wrist, the women elegantly scoped up the ingredients and wrapped them into a transparent film. I had never seen rice paper before, let alone tasted it. I poked the outside cautiously, the outer case was sticky – could you eat rice paper or was it like plastic cling wrap?
The woman laughed at my curiosity and wordlessly encouraged me to take a bite. Clutching a roll with two hands, I took a mouthful of the roll and was overwhelmed by the celebration of flavours. Tofu, rice noodles, fresh veggies and fragrant herbs. I devoured them in silence, my cheeks full with a combination of decadent peanut sauce, and crunchy carrot sticks. I was in heaven.
After devouring the Fresh Spring Rolls, the lady invited me into her hut. She pointing towards different objects, encouraging me to mimic her actions. Together we milled rice in a giant mortar and pestle, prepared a liquidy batter then smeared it onto a pan like a very thin French crepe. Afterwards, the rice paper was spread onto bamboo stretchers and hung outside to dry in the sun.
Even though my rice paper rolls resembled Salvador Dali’s melting clocks, the lady humoured me and placed them outside to dry along with her perfectly symmetrical rice paper circles. While I still haven’t perfected how to make rice paper from scratch, these Easy Fresh Spring Rolls Recipe is another story entirely.
Prepared in a matter of minutes, this recipe is perfect for a lite dinner, as healthy ‘finger food’ at a party or as a simple lunch-box meal. What’s even better is how easy the recipe is to adapt based on the fillings or personal tastes.
While the technique of rolling rice paper wraps takes one or two tries to perfect, trust me, once you give this recipe a go, you’ll be converted!
- COOL & REFRESHING – This recipe can be prepared without the stove making it perfect to whip up on a hot summer’s day.
- FUN FINGER FOOD – Arrive with freshly prepared Rice Paper Rolls or set up a DIY station, guests will absolutely love to learn how to make rice paper rolls from scratch (and they’re super tasty!)
- DIETARY FRIENDLY – Traditionally gluten-free, and easily adapted to be vegetarian or vegan, Rice Paper Rolls can easily cater for most dietary requirements, making them perfect for fussy bellies.
- HEALTHY – Filled with plenty of crunchy vegetables and fragrant herbs, not only are rice paper rolls healthy, but they are also incredibly delicious!
While serving size generally varies based on the fillings and appetite of the person, between 2 – 3 rice paper rolls is enough to make you feel full and satisfied.
Traditionally known as ‘Gỏi cuốn’ in Vietnam, on many English menus Fresh Spring Rolls are also called ‘Vietnamese Spring Rolls’, ‘Spring Rolls’ or ‘Rice Paper Rolls’.
If you’re ordering ‘Spring Rolls’ be sure to ask if they are fresh or deep-fried because some restaurants deep-fry their ‘spring rolls’.
Whatever they are called, we all know one thing for sure and that is that Spring Rolls are absolutely delicious!
While traditional Vietnamese fresh spring rolls are wrapped in rice paper, prepared from ground rice and water, some spring roll wrappers are also made using wheat or tapioca flour.
If you are craving this recipe and can’t find any, a great substitute is to prepare you rolls using ice-berg lettuce or cabbage leaves.
If you have an intolerance to gluten, it’s best to practice caution to ensure the ingredients align with your dietary requirements.
While rice paper is traditionally prepared using rice and water, some wrappers are also made using wheat or tapioca flour. If you’re preparing fresh spring rolls from scratch, double check the ingredient list to make sure made from rice.
While the wrappers themselves may be gluten-free, the protein marinade and dipping sauce can often be overlooked and may have ingredients that contain gluten, such as soy sauce.
In summary, remember to check with the cook, read the product list or enquire with the manufacturer to ensure the ingredients align with your dietary requirements. Enjoy! 🙂
Absolutely! While I love preparing spring rolls to my weekly meal plan, they taste best if consumed within a couple of days of being prepared.
To keep your spring rolls fresher for longer, store them by wrapping them in a damp paper towel, place them in a sealed tupperware container and store them in the fridge. Refrigeration can harden the rice paper and noodles slightly. If this happens, simply wipe the spring rolls with another damp towel to bring them back to life!
While the time needed to soak rice paper wrappers varies depending on the brand, as a rule of thumb, I submerge my rice paper in warm water for about 10 – 15 seconds. Cooler water requires longer time. Remove the rice paper and set aside on a plate with a damp cloth.
To test if the rice paper is ready, pinch the centre of the rice paper. The rice paper should be firm but pliable.
Similar to making pancakes, when you prepare fresh spring rolls for the first time, it might take a few tries to perfect the technique. As a spoiler – most of the challenges are caused by how long you soak the rice paper!
Why do my rice paper rolls split?
Rice paper rolls generally tear when the rice paper hasn’t been soaked enough, or they become too dry.
To avoid this, ensure your rice paper has enough time to absorb the water (approximately 15 seconds) and ensure that your harder ingredients (e.g. corners of carrot sticks) are protected.
Store your rice paper rolls with a damp cloth to ensure they stay humid and soft.
My rice paper rolls are too sticky!
Rice paper rolls are too sticky when the rice paper has soaked too much of the liquid. To avoid this, reduce the amount of time your rice paper is sitting in the water.
Authentic Rice Paper Rolls usually contain rice noodles, vegetables, fresh herbs, protein and chilli.
What I love about this recipe is how easy it is to adapt the ingredients to what you have available in the fridge. I empower you to mix it up, experiment and make the recipe your own by adjusting and being creative with your recipe fillings.
NOODLES – While thin noodles like vermicelli noodles are the more authentic choice of noodles for rice paper rolls, kelp noodles or glass noodles also work perfectly.
VEGETABLES – The best vegetables to use in rice paper rolls are generally vegetables that are more flexible or can be cut into thin matchsticks or slices so it doesn’t tear the rice paper when being rolled.
Some of my favourite combinations to try are:
- asparagus, blanched.
- avocado, slices.
- beans, blanched.
- cabbage, thin slices.
- carrots, thin matchsticks or peeled slices.
- chilli, seeded, thin matchsticks.
- cucumber, thin matchsticks or thinly peeled slices.
- fresh sprouts, washed.
- mango, thin slices.
- red or yellow capsicum, thin slices.
- radish, thin slices.
- snow peas, blanched in hot water.
- romaine lettuce, washed.
- spring onions, thin matchsticks.
- wombok, thin slices.
- zucchini, thin matchsticks or peeled slices.
FRAGRANT HERBS – Fresh garden herbs such as coriander, mint or Thai basil are an absolute must as they’re flavourful, fragrant and packed with nutrients.
PROTEIN – While I love to serve my rice paper rolls with lemongrass tofu, some other great protein sources could be –
- egg or vegan omelette.
- marinated tempeh.
- organic & sustainably sourced prawns, chicken or pork (if you consume meat).
DIPPING SAUCE – There are many different dipping sauces that can be served with summer rolls which all change the taste, texture and flavours of the dish completely.
My favourites are nuoc cham (sweet chilli sauce), hoisin or peanut dipping sauce. Recipes BELOW.
If preparing this dish for the first time, I encourage you to experiment with the dipping sauces because each add an interesting element to the dish whether it be taste, smell or texture.
- NUOC CHAM DIPPING SAUCE is the more traditional “sweet chilli” dipping sauce served with many dishes in Vietnam. While it’s more watery in texture, don’t underestimate this dipping sauce. Nuoc Cham is a powerhouse of mixed flavours like sweet, tart, savoury, tangy and spicy (depending on the quantity of the chilli included).
To Prepare – dissolve 2 tbsp raw sugar in 2 tbsp hot water water, include 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1/2 fresh lime juiced, 1 clove of minced garlic and 1 minced chilli (depending on personal taste).
- PEANUT DIPPING SAUCE is one of my favourite satay dipping sauces that I drizzle over everything including salads. It’s crunchy texture combined with the decadent creaminess is a perfect contrast to the lite and fresh spring rolls.
To Prepare – combine 3 tbsp crunchy peanut butter, 2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp tamari sauce, 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup, 1/2 lemon, juiced.
- HOISIN DIPPING SAUCE is a great peanut-free dipping sauce alternative. It’s decadent in texture but doesn’t skimp on flavour or complexity. Being only 4 ingredients, this recipe can be great to whip up if you’re feeling short for time.
To Prepare – combine 1/2 cup of hoisin sauce, 1 tbsp of raw sugar, 1 tbsp of water and 1/2 fresh lime, juiced.
Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce
Fresh Spring Roll Ingredients
- 100 g vermicelli rice noodles cooked and cooled
- 8 (22cm) rice paper rounds (spring roll wrappers)
- 1 medium carrot peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
- 1 medium lebanese cucumber washed and peeled into strips
- 1 cup snow peas blanched*
- 100 g red cabbage thinly shredded
- 150 g marinated tofu thinly sliced and pan fried (optional)
- cilantro or coriander leaves (to serve)
Peanut Dipping Sauce
- 3 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp tamari sauce
- 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
- 1/2 lemon juiced
How to Make Spring Rolls
- Ensure all your ingredients are prepared, cooked and within reach. Ensure you have a medium sized bowl or sheet pan, filled with warm water so the rice paper can fit snugly in, and a damp towel to assemble the fresh spring rolls.
- Soften the rice paper round in warm water for approximately 20 seconds, until soft and pliable. Remove from the water and carefully place on a damp towel.
- Working from 1 inch from the borrom, cover 1/3 of the rice paper round with the thinly sliced cucumber. Thereafter, top with the cooked vermicelli rice noodles, cooked marinated tofu, carrot sticks, cabbage and plenty of cilantro leaves.
- Fold the bottom edge over the filling until it's snug and well enclosed. Fold over each end to secure the filling (like an envelope), then continue to roll until the fresh spring roll is wrapped.
- Repeat with the remaining rice paper rounds and ingredients and serve with your Favourite Dipping Sauce! Bon Appétit!
Peanut Dipping Sauce
- Combine the peanut butter, sesame oil, extra virgin olive oil, tamari sauce, honey and lemon in a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Serve immediately.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN!
I want to hear from you – leave a comment below and let me know, have you made fresh spring rolls before?