Okay, first thing's first. Do you call these Spring Rolls or Summer Rolls? It seems English speakers can't get their stories straight as to what these delicious rice paper rolls are. I call the fried version Egg Rolls and these fresh versions Spring Rolls. Get out of here with that Summer Roll crap. What IS a Summer Roll?
I almost always order Spring Rolls at a Vietnamese restaurant. The fresh mint and cool vermicelli noodles play so well with the rich, sweet and salty peanut sauce. I always kick myself when the waiter brings out two small, under-filled spring rolls and then charge me $5. These are so cheap and easy to make, you'll never want to order them at a restaurant again!
The hardest part about making these rolls is the actual rolling part. It might look intimidating, but once you get a hang of it, this will be a go to dish. I pack these for lunch all the time, as they are great served cold, and have plenty of veggies and lean proteins for a healthy, balanced meal.
You'll need romaine lettuce, mint, thai basil, and chives for your greens. You'll also need rice paper and vermicelli. The classic gỏi cuốn filling is shrimp and pork belly. Find shrimp that has already been peeled for quicker assembly!
Before you begin rolling, prepare the vermicelli according to your package instructions. The pork belly should be boiled in a pot with enough water to submerge it, and a little bit of salt to flavor the meat. It will be done when a chopstick (or a fork) can go cleanly in the meat without it releasing pink juices. Reserve the water used to cook your pork! The shrimp should be cooked with just a tiny bit of water and stirred constantly until they are no longer translucent. Thinly slice your pork belly and slice your shrimp in half lengthwise so they lay flat.
Start by dunking your rice paper in warm water. It is ESSENTIAL that you don't over soak your rice paper, or it will disintegrate. You want the paper to still feel too firm to roll up when you set it on your plate. It will continue to soften up as you add your fillings. I repeat: DO NOT OVER SOAK YOUR RICE PAPER.
Add your lettuce and herbs first, but don't add chives yet.
Add the vermicelli on top of the greens, and then a few slices of pork belly. The shrimp should go right on above the lettuce on the rice paper, cut side facing up. This will make your shrimp pop against the rice paper once you roll it up.
Fold the two sides of the rice paper in towards the center, and then add your piece of chive on top. This will make the chive stick out when you roll it up. This is purely for aesthetic reasons, if you want to tuck the chive all the way inside the roll feel free. I don't like chive, and I actually pull them out before I eat!
At this point you can carefully roll the whole roll from the bottom up. You should be left with a delicious parcel of food!
The Dipping Sauce
This dipping sauce could NOT be easier unless you went and bought a pre-made sauce at the store. All you need is a tablespoon of minced garlic, 2 teaspoons of minced shallot, peanut butter, and hoisin sauce. Remember when we reserved the water from the cooked pork belly? We'll use that to thin out the sauce.
Sauté your garlic and shallots in a small amount of oil until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add equal parts peanut butter and hoisin sauce to the pot and whisk until combined. Then thin out your sauce with the water used to boil the pork belly until it's at a consistency you like. Some people prefer a thinner sauce, while others like a thicker, sturdier sauce.
You can also toast up some peanuts and grind them up to sprinkle into the sauce for an extra crunch. Thinly chopped thai chilis would also be a great mix-in.
- 1 package Rice Paper
- 1 package Vermicelli
- 1/2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 lbs pork belly
- 2 romaine hearts
- 1 bunch mint
- 1 bunch thai basil
- 1 Tbsp garlic
- 2 tsp shallot
- 3 Tbsp peanut butter
- 3 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
- Water, reserved from cooking pork
- Crushed peanuts, optional
- Thai Chili, Optional
- 1 bunch Chives