Learn how to make Vietnamese spring rolls called goi cuon, which are vermicelli noodles with protein wrapped around a fresh rice paper.
When you bite into a delicious Vietnamese spring roll from your favorite restaurant, don't you ever wish you could have one every day?
Well, I'm here to tell you that you can! If you have ever thought about creating a homemade Vietnamese spring roll from your favorite restaurant, you may have reconsidered because you were intimidated by new ingredients you've never used (like the rice paper).
As it turns out, Vietnamese spring rolls are super easy to make right at home with a few SIMPLE ingredients, AND you'll be able to make it as authentic as the Vietnamese restaurant that you frequent! I'm going to show you where to get the ingredients and how to use them.
In this post, I'm going to break down all the frequently asked questions about various asian rolls as well as share with you my absolute favorite SIMPLE vietnamese spring roll recipe. There really isn't any fancy cooking needed!
Fresh Authentic Vietnamese Spring Roll Recipe - Gỏi Cuốn
The great thing about this dish, is there is not a lot of cooking involved. A large majority of the time is spent cutting, prepping, and laying out the food.
What is a Vietnamese spring roll?
A Vietnamese spring roll is fresh appetizer that typically uses vermicelli noodles, shrimp, pork, and fresh herbs that is rolled in moist rice paper. Once prepared, spring rolls are served immediately. A peanut sauce or a sweetened chili fish sauce is used as a dipping sauce for the roll.
Related Post: Authentic Vietnamese Peanut Sauce Recipe
Other Names for Vietnamese Spring Rolls (and how things got lost in translation)
Vietnamese spring rolls actually have numerous names, especially as you compare Vietnamese restaurants. Other names for Vietnamese spring rolls include:
- Vietnamese spring rolls
- Vietnamese summer rolls
- Salad roll
- Crystal Rolls
- Side Rolls
- Gỏi Cuốn (the traditional name)
- Gỏi Cuốn Tom Thit
- Nem Cuốn
If you break down the Vietnamese terms for this appetizer here is what each of those words mean:
- Goi - Means to wrap or a wrapper
- Cuon - Means way to wrap
- Tom - Means shrimp
- Thit - Means meat
So basically, what that means is that it's a “snack that is rolled.”
Is a spring roll and a summer roll the same thing?
If you are referring specifically to Vietnamese cuisine, there is not a difference between a spring roll and a summer roll. The translation of a Vietnamese spring roll does not actually imply spring or summer in any of the Vietnamese name Goi Cuon. It could be assumed that the word spring and summer were used in the original translation (and unfortunately stuck) since fresh herbs are the main star of this dish, and herbs are more prevalent and in abundance during spring and summer months.
The Important Tip You Need to Know About Serving Spring Rolls
They should be served immediately after they are prepared. Spring rolls are served at room temperature with two types of common dipping sauces, a sweet peanut sauce or sweet chilli fish sauce, with the peanut sauce being the most popular.
Does a spring roll have meat?
Yes, a spring roll does contain meat. Honestly, I think this question gets asked a lot because the term “spring” leads it to be assumed that it is a vegetarian dish, when it’s not. Sure, you could remove the pork and shrimp that’s typically inside as a filler, but it would no longer be an authentic Vietnamese spring roll.
History and Origin of Spring Rolls (Hint: It’s not from Vietnam)
Vietnamese spring rolls actually were to be originated from China. They were introduced to Vietnam regionally through original Chinese immigrants. The Chinese spring rolls and egg rolls that were initially introduced were then modified and adapted to suit the taste buds of the region.
The popularity of spring rolls has been tied to more Vietnamese cuisine in western culture, rather than Chinese. Western culture has more closely assigned egg roll popularity to Chinese culture.
However, both spring rolls and egg rolls exist in Vietnamese cuisine.
Nutritional Values of Vietnamese Summer Rolls and Spring Rolls
How many calories are there in a Vietnamese spring roll and summer roll?
Authentic Vietnamese spring rolls made with pork and shrimp has approximately 188 calories.
There are so many variations of Vietnamese spring rolls and summer rolls that it would be hard to provide a specific calorie count. I’m just going to break down the calorie count for each ingredient because each of them are cooked, then prepared, then wrapped around the rice paper.
- One sheet of rice paper: 35 calories
- Vermicelli noodles, 0.5 ounce: 50 calories
- Cooked shrimp, 4: 47 calories
- Cooked pork loin, 0.5 ounces: 31 calories
- Mint, Thai Basil, Cilantro, Green Onion: 25 calories
Spring rolls are wouldn’t be complete without their counterpart, the peanut sauce or sweet chili fish sauce.
Are Vietnamese spring rolls and summer rolls gluten-free?
Yes, authentic Vietnamese spring rolls are gluten-free.
For those who are looking for a gluten free appetizer, Vietnamese spring rolls and summer rolls are perfect. The two ingredients inside of a Vietnamese spring roll that you would initially be concerned about containing gluten are the rice paper wrapper and vermicelli noodles, both of which do not include gluten.
However, paired with Vietnamese spring rolls and summer rolls are typically a peanut sauce and spicy chili fish sauce. Some ingredients in the sauces may contain gluten if you use non-traditional methods of making the sauce.
For example, soy sauce (some brands contain gluten) is used by westerners for dipping, but are not the norm when served in a traditional Vietnamese restaurant serving authentic cuisines.
By ensuring that you aren’t adding any ingredients with wheat, barley, and rye, you can feel confident that this recipe is indeed gluten free!
Are Vietnamese spring rolls a low carb option?
If you are looking for a low carb option, the traditional Vietnamese spring roll may not be for you. However, an alternative version of this could be done by substituting the rice paper for lettuce.
With this recipe, you can easily vary the fillings as needed to meet your carb or ingredient needs for your diet. The dish is pretty forgiving!
Note: I would say that doing so defeats the purpose of these delicious spring rolls which are characterized by the rice paper wrapped around the ingredients.
Are Vietnamese spring rolls healthy or are they fattening?
As with most foods, Vietnamese spring rolls are a great healthy option if eaten in moderation.
What increases the calorie count on these delicious wraps is the use of the peanut sauce. If you are trying to limit calorie count intake, I would dip the spring all sparingly in the peanut sauce.
All You Ever Wanted to Know About Vietnamese Rice Paper
What is Vietnamese rice paper?
Vietnamese rice paper is known as Bánh tráng. It is made up of rice and paper. Rice wrappers are found in Southeast Asian cooking (which is what my blog is focused on).
They are best known in Vietnamese cuisine for making spring rolls (also known as summer rolls). My recommendation is to use the brand that has the rose in front of it!
In other types of cuisines, you’ll find the dyed, wheat, and flavored versions of rice paper. In traditional Vietnamese cuisines, the transparent and opaque rice paper is normally used when preparing these rolls.
Rice paper IS NOT used for making egg rolls, which are traditionally fried.
Where can you find Vietnamese rice paper?
These days, with the popularity of Vietnamese food, you can find Vietnamese rice paper at your local grocer. However, if you dare enter an Asian market (which I highly recommend with first timer's tips to going to an Asian market), you can find a huge variety of rice paper with easily over three or more brands.
They can typically be found near the fried noodle areas of an Asian grocer. You can also order them right from Amazon! You’ll want to make sure you narrow your search for those that are just rice based on not get confused with those that have wheat flour wrappers or tapioca starch ingredient.
The ones I recommend again is the brand with the rose on it. I would tell you the name, but it’s in a different language. Just remember the rose.
What are Vietnamese spring roll wrappers made of?
Vietnamese rice paper is made of rice and water.
That’s it! No hidden fillers.
How long can you store Vietnamese wrappers?
When you look at the wrapper, you will be hard pressed to find an expiration date. That’s because as long as you don’t open the package, Vietnamese rice paper wrappers can be stored pretty much forever.
However, for my own head space, I throw them away if they are over two years old.
Are Vietnamese rice paper wrappers healthy?
Yes. In addition to your regular diet, replacing higher-calorie bread with rice paper wrappers can help you lose weight.
Do you refrigerate rice paper?
No, it should be stored at room temperature.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a spring roll, summer, California spring roll, and an egg roll?
Depending on the type of cuisine you were eating, whether it’s Vietnamese, Thai, or Asian food, spring rolls can mean a completely different thing.
Fresh spring rolls and summer rolls are found mainly in Vietnamese cuisine, which is what you are reading all about! It’s made with an opaque and transparent wrapper that is served fresh at room temperature.
Egg rolls are often associated with Chinese cuisine, where it contains pork, chicken, shrimp, and a carrot medley wrapped in an egg based wrapper that is deep fried and served warm.
Both egg rolls and spring rolls are served with dipping sauce, with spring rolls being the ones most often associated with dipping sauce.
I’ve also seen in some non-Vietnamese restaurants where they actually fry spring rolls, so you’ll need to make sure you double check to see whether they are fried or served cold/fresh.
A popular menu item where this definition is mixed up is this Cheescake Factory menu item, which they call a Cheeseburger Spring Roll. This spring roll is fried and is not made with rice paper.
In my humble opinion, they need to call it an egg roll. I’m not a food snob at all, but I think the better term for this would be a Cheeseburger Egg Roll (albeit, it is delicious in it’s own right).
A California spring roll is an adaptation of a spring roll that has been increasingly on trend with the rising popularity of sushi. The filling consists of avocado, crab, cabbage, lettuce, and avocado. It’s a completely different taste and experience all together.
What makes a mediocre spring roll versus amazingly delicious spring rolls?
Fresh herbs are the key to ensuring a delicious spring roll.
You need to use the freshest herbs and vegetables available on the market. This includes specifically Thai basil, mint and cilantro. If you can’t find some of these ingredients, know that the first two herbs can be found at your local Asian grocery store.
Sliced, boiled pork is typically used with this dish. If you love the taste of fat (I know some of you won’t admit that you do), pork belly is typically used and boiled. That takes the flavor of spring rolls up a notch.
Can you make spring rolls beforehand?
You should only make spring rolls if you plan on eating them within a 2 hour period. Anytime longer than that, the rice paper (even when it is covered with a wet towel) will start to harden and not taste as great.
How do you store spring rolls that have been made?
You can store them up to two hours after eating, but not much longer. Similar to the statement above, they will start to harden and not taste great.
Quick and Easy Way to Make Vietnamese Spring Rolls
These step by step instructions will teach you how to prepare and roll deliciously perfect Vietnamese spring rolls. As stated before, there really isn’t a lot of cooking in this recipe.
This recipe is not difficult at all. The way you get better at using rice paper and rolling perfectly sized spring rolls is creating a LOT of spring rolls. The more you make them, the better your rolled rolls will be!
Vietnamese Spring Roll Filling Ingredients
To make them authentic, you need to have these ingredients:
- Rice paper
- vermicelli noodles
- green onion
However, I’ve seen a lot of recipes with a lot of different substitutions which aren’t authentic Vietnamese recipes. This includes adding sliced hard boiled egg, sliced carrots, shredded lettuce, and ground pork.
In order to keep the filling authentic to Vietnamese spring rolls, what’s most important is the herbs for the spring rolls. The herbs that are used keeps the authenticity of a Vietnamese spring roll.
Keep scrolling down for the recipe card for specific details on the ingredients!
Note: The sauce preparation could be done the night before, to allow to cool for the next day. But it’s not necessary.
Directions for Easy and Quick Vietnamese Spring Rolls
STEP 1 - Boil the Pork
Add water into the pot until the point where it will submerge the pork it it’s entirety with an additional 2 inches.
Add the pork once the water is boiling. Turn to medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon to the pork.
You’ll want to simmer it for 30 minutes until the pork is no longer pink. A good sign that the pork is done when it is no longer pink and is floating at the top of the water.
Flash freeze it so you can start slicing the meat quicker.
Slice the pork into as thin strips as possible that are an inch and a half in diameter.
STEP 2 - Cook Shrimp
Bring water to a boil in another pot. Once rapidly boiling, throw in unpeeled shrimp or prawns.
Quickly get a cold bath with ice ready.
After about 3 minutes, take the shrimp out of the pot and flash cool them in the cold bath.
Peel and devein the shrimp.
STEP 3 - Prepare the Herbs
Make sure you wash them really well, as you’ll be pretty much cooking them raw.
I would de-stem the mint and basil into individual leaves. For the cilantro, cut the tough bottom stems off, but leave the stems where the cilantro leaves are.
STEP 4 - Prepare the Sauce
You’ll want to prepare the sauce for spring rolls if you haven’t already because after you make them you’ll want to serve it immediately so the wrapper doesn’t go hard.
STEP 5 - Prepare the Assembly Line
You’ll want to gather just one additional person for help. The reason is because it will save you time from waiting on the rice paper to pliable enough to fold.
Set up your assembly line to have in front of you a plate or cutting board, shrimp and pork to the left, noodles, and herbs. To the right, you’ll want to have a casserole dish and dish paper moistened with a LOT of water (almost like a sponge) to place over the spring rolls as you make them.
In front of your assistant, you’ll want a bowl rice paper, lukewarm water and a cutting board. Have your assistant lightly wet the work surface area.
STEP 6 - Start Assembling
Your assistant will dip the rice paper into the water for 2 seconds, and then lay the paper onto the surface. They will then exchange with you their board for your empty one.
Your assistant will not start the moistening (I hate that word) process until you start the actual rolling process.
STEP 7 - Add Spring Roll Filling
You’ll want to add all the ingredients from left to right. Once done, put it in a glass casserole dish and most importantly, cover it with a moistened towel!
To keep rice paper rolls from sticking together, make sure you are making them one at a time. If you want, have a water bottle spray nearby to keep the rolls moist (there it is again with that word).
STEP 8 - Tips to Roll Spring Rolls Right Every Time
In order to roll, you’ll want to place those items in that order on the bottom. You roll up the bottom over the filling one time.
After that, you fold over the sides, and start squeezing and rolling!
STEP 8 - Serve Immediately
Make sure you eat them immediately. I would not recommend leftovers after more than 2 hours. If you need to, extend it to the next meal period, but no longer (like from lunch to dinner).
Scroll down for a shorter version of this spring roll recipe.
The ONE Thing You Don't Want to Do with Spring Rolls
Can spring rolls be made ahead of time?
It should only be made two hours prior to eating, at the absolute earliest.
Can I freeze homemade spring rolls?
The answer is no. Vietnamese spring rolls should not be frozen. They should be made fresh.
How should I store leftover spring rolls?
Store them in the refrigerator with a moistened towel for at maximum two hours.
- Package of Rice Paper
- Package of Vermicelli Noodles
- Bunch of Basil, destemmed
- Bunch of Mint, destemmed
- Cilantro, destemmed
- Bunch of green onion, sliced
- 1 pound of large shrimp, shell on
- 1 pound of pork loin
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- Boil water, and add in pork loin, salt, and sugar. Cook until done. Slice pork into thin strips.
- Boil water, and submerge shrimp for 2-3 minutes until pink. Put it flash cold bath. Peel and devein shrimp.
- Prepare herbs. Destem Thai basil, mint, and cilantro. Slice up green onion.
- Prepare dipping sauce.
- Moisten rice paper until pliable.
- Add in shrimp, pork, noodles, herbs on top of rice paper.
- Roll the rice paper, starting on bottom, and folding insides.
- Serve immediately with dipping sauce!
Serve immediately. Store with moist paper towel in refrigerator for maximum of two hours.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 150
Spring Rolls Made Easy
These delicious low-carb, gluten free appetizers are a delicious way to start your journey into Vietnamese cuisine. Making a delicious Vietnamese spring roll just takes some practice. Once you get the hang of it your first go-round, you’ll find that it will get easier and faster as you make them.
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