Vietnamese summer rolls are one of my favorite appetizers or main courses (just make an extra one or two if it’s your primary meal). They are relatively simple to make, healthy, and delicious. Although Vietnamese summer rolls require almost no cooking, restaurants can charge you upwards of $8+ for two small rolls. Once you get the hang of making them, you’ll wonder why you ever paid for them.
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Main ingredients in Vietnamese Summer Rolls
No matter what else you put in your summer roll, you need to have two main ingredients: rice paper and vermicelli noodles. Both of these you can find in any specialty Asian grocery store or in most Asian sections of grocery stores. You can also find them online. Amazon has both authentic Banh Trang spring roll rice paper as well as authentic vermicelli.
The other ingredients you need? This is where you can get creative. For vegetables, my favorites are:
- Lettuce – use something crunchy like iceberg and tear into small pieces
- Carrots – julienne into thin strips
- Basil, mint, or cilantro – these herbs brings a freshness to the dish. I highly recommend at least one or two of your favorites.
- Spring onion – optional but if you have available they can add some additional freshness
- Beansprouts – optional but if you have available they give us a nice crunch
- Cucumber – optional if you’d like to add more vegetables
- Red pepper – optional if you’d like to add more vegetables
For protein, nothing is off limits. I usually choose one or two proteins per a roll.
- Shrimp – my favorite, use smaller shrimps or cut in half
- Pork – small strips
- Tofu – great vegetarian option, I would air fry or bake first
- Chicken – small strips
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Basic Tools Needed to make Summer Rolls
The best part of making Vietnamese summer rolls is how little cooking is involved. The only ingredient you actually have to cook is the vermicelli noodles, which are boiled per the directions on the bag. Just drop them in a 3qt pot and you are good to go.
It’s not necessary, but having a large bowl to dip the rice paper in makes compiling summer rolls much easier. A fairly large mixing bowl like this 5qt mixing bowl would be my preference over having to continuously turn on and off your faucet to wet the rice paper.
Lastly, all you need is a cutting board to roll all the ingredients together, and you’re all set.
Interested in another authentic Asian dish? Try this recipe for Thai Green Curry with Chicken.
Tips for Cooking and Eating Summer Rolls
The hardest part of making Vietnamese summer rolls is rolling the rice paper around the filling, so make sure you have all of the ingredients laid out. Another tip is quickly dipping the rice paper in lukewarm water – no need to saturate it, it will get flexible quickly. Also, try to keep the cutting board slightly damp to avoid the rice paper sticking. The more frequently you put together the rolls the easier it’ll get.
One other tip when making Vietnamese summer rolls is not to skimp on the sauce. These rolls were made for dipping. In the notes section of the recipe are too fantastic sauces, one that is salty (fish based sauce) and the other that is sweet (hoisin based sauce).
Vietnamese Summer Rolls
- 3-4 oz rice vermicilli noodles (or 90g)
- 6 rice paper
- 1/2 lb cleaned and deveined shrimp
- 1/2 lb boneless pork chop (about 2 small) optional, if omitting double shrimp or add other protein
- 1 tbsp olive oil for frying pork chop
- 1/2 head iceberg lettuce substitute other crunchy lettuce
- 1 bunch mint, basil, or cilantro leaves
- 1 small cucumber optional
- 3 tbsp salted peanuts optional, chopped
- 1/4 cup bean sprouts optional
Pork Chop Marinade (Optional: double shrimp if not using)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar substitute white vinegar
- pinch garlic powder
- pinch black pepper
Pork Chop Directions (Optional)
- If using pork chops, combine all marinade ingredients in a large bowl and mix. Add pork chop and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Remove pork chop from marinade. Add oil to a frying pan and fry each side for around 4 minutes. To ensure pork chop is fully cooked use a meat thermometer to make sure it is at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer meat to a plate to cool and then slice into half inch or thinner strips.
Summer Roll Prep
- Start cooking the vermicelli noodles in a 3qt pot according to the package directions, usually around 10 minutes. Test their doneness every few minutes. Once ready, strain through a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
- Either in the same pot or a different pot (if you'd like to cook simultaneously) heat up salted water. Add shrimp and cook for approximately 3 minutes until shrimp turn pink and have curled up slightly
- To make assembly easy, compile all vegetables on a plate or in bowls. Shred lettuce, julienne carrots into thin strips, and arrange herbs. If using peanuts (recommended to add crunch) chop into smaller pieces.
Summer Roll Assembly & Sauce
- Dip rice paper in a bowl filled with lukewarm to cool water or run rice paper underneath faucet quickly if you do not have a large enough bowl. Place rice paper in the middle of the cutting board.
- Take a small bunch of rice noodles and place on rice paper about 1/4 from the side closest to you (this flap will be the rice paper you will use to wrap the ingredients first). Add 3 shrimps next to the noodle. Layer on top 2-3 strips of pork, shredded carrots, lettuce, and a few mint/basil/cilantro leaves. If using any other ingredients such as chopped peanuts or bean sprouts add to the top.
- Begin to fold the flap closest to you over the contents of the summer roll. Once the first half is covered, fold both side flaps in. Holding the food firmly, roll to the end of the rice paper. Transfer to a plate with the seam side down to help seal the rolls. Rolls will be sticky so try to avoid them touching.
- Choose either a fish based (salty) or hoisin based (sweet) sauce to dip your summer rolls into. Ingredients are in the notes section below. If using the fish sauce, mix well in a small bowl and serve. If using the hoisin based sauce, add ingredients to a small pot and heat for about two minutes. Mix and then serve in a small bowl.
Fish Based Sauce
- 3tbsp fish sauce
- 6tbsp water
- 1 1/2 tsp sugar (add more to taste)
- 1tsp lime juice
- chili garlic sauce (optional to taste)
Hoisin Based Sauce
- 3tbsp hoisin sauce
- 5tbsp water
- pinch of sugar
- drop of sesame oil
- chili garlic sauce (optional to taste)
Let me know your thoughts on this recipe – are these rolls something you would make? How did they turn out for you?