Vietnamese Summer Rolls, aka Fresh Rolls, aka Rice Paper Rolls, hit a few killer high points for food:
They’re pretty ✅
They’re easy to make ✅
They’re versatile (put like, literally anything you want in them) ✅
And most important of all, they’re delicious! ✅
Admittedly, the rolling of these delicate, translucent babies takes a little practice to master. I am super kicking myself for not making a stop-mo demo of the rolling process, but if you’re a visual learner, take a look at this awesome video!
A few tips on rolling summer rolls from my own experience: First, Don’t leave your rice paper in the water too long, it only needs about a second. It will be stiff at first, but will continue to soak up moisture and become soft quickly. Second, do your best to work quickly. You don’t need to be crazy fast, but ya know, don’t leave your wet rice paper for 10 minutes and then come back and try to work with it– it will get stickier and more brittle the longer it sits. Third, layer your fillings smartly. Fillings like lettuce will be hard to keep in place while you roll, so layer them on the bottom or in the center so they are weighed down a bit. Last, Read through the process once or twice before you begin. This always helps when trying something new, but I wanted to emphasize it for this recipe to set you up for success!
One more note before you get started: When using rice noodles, remember that they are different from pasta, and the classic no-nos of pasta do not apply here! Always cook rice noodles with unsalted water and always rinse them thoroughly with cold water until completely cool after draining. Rice likes to keep absorbing water, so if the rice noodles stay hot they will get more and more brittle the longer they sit. If your cold, rinsed noodles stick together, just rinse with more cold water!
Okay, I’m done talking! Get started on your new favorite thing: homemade Vietnamese summer rolls!!
Vietnamese Summer Rolls Recipe
Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Pork + Peanuts
For The Pork:
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 large shallot minced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp tamari soy sauce
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp canola oil or other high smoke point oil
- 1/4 cup chopped roasted and unsalted peanuts
For The Rolls:
- 8 oz dried vermicelli rice noodles
- 10-12 sheets rice paper (8 ½” in diameter)
- fresh basil and/ or mint leaves
- 2 medium carrots peeled and julienned
- 1 large english cucumber seeded and julienned
- 1 small heart romaine lettuce shredded
- 1 thinly sliced jalapeño or serrano pepper (optional)
- prepared nuoc cham or peanut sauce for serving see recipes below
Prepare The Pork:
- In a medium bowl, combine the ground pork, shallot, garlic, tamari, salt, and sesame oil. Heat the canola oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat. When hot, add the pork mixture and brown, allowing to crisp undisturbed for a few minutes at a time between stirring and breaking up with a wooden spoon. Cook until pork is cooked throughout and browned all over. Transfer the pork to a bowl and stir in the peanuts. Allow to cool slightly before filling the summer rolls.
Prepare The Rice Noodles:
- Bring a pot of unsalted water to a boil. Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook briefly, about 1-3 minutes, until just tender. Immediately drain the noodles and rinse with cold water until the noodles have cooled completely. Drain well.
Assemble The Summer Rolls:
- Prepare a large bowl of warm water (with a diameter wide enough for the rice paper), a damp kitchen towel spread on a clean work surface, and a baking sheet lined with a second damp kitchen towel. (Be sure your damp towels aren’t too wet-- this could cause your rolls to absorb too much water and tear.) Spread out your fillings (the carrots, cucumbers, romaine, jalapeno, and pork) so they are easily accessible and you can fill your rolls quickly.
- Briefly moisten the entire surface of 1 sheet of rice paper in the bowl of warm water. Do not leave the rice paper in the water for more than about 1 second-- it will still be stiff, but will continue to soften as you work. Place the moistened rice paper on the damp kitchen towel, and layer the fillings in the center. (Tip: when layering fillings, remember that they will be visible when rolled. If you want to make your rolls pretty, you can layer basil or mint leaves first so they show through. Also, avoid layering fiddly things like the lettuce on top, as they’re more likely to move around when rolling. I like adding the rice noodles last because they weigh everything else down.) Fold the outer edges of the paper over the filling. Then, take the edge of the rice paper nearest to you and pull it over the filling. Use the edge to slightly tuck the filling back into itself (this will make the roll tight), then continue rolling all the way closed. You may also need to hold the outer edges as you roll to ensure they stay tucked in. Transfer the finished roll to the damp towel on the baking sheet, and repeat until all of the fillings have been used.
- When all of the summer rolls have been rolled, slice in half or serve whole. Enjoy right away with nuoc cham or peanut sauce for dipping!
Nuoc Cham Sauce Recipe
- 1/2 cup hot water hot water will dissolve and absorb the sugar best
- 4-5 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 3 + 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 clove garlic grated or pressed (optional)
- 1 thinly sliced birds eye chili or 1/4 tsp red pepper flake
- Combine all ingredients and stir well until the sugar has dissolved completely.
Peanut Sauce Recipe
- 1 inch piece ginger, peeled and trimmed of dry spots
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ cup unsalted peanut butter (if using salted peanut butter, reduce soy sauce to 1 ½ tsp)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 3 ½ tsp rice vinegar
- 2 tsp honey
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 6 tbsp full fat coconut milk
- In a food processor, process the ginger and garlic until finely chopped. Add all remaining ingredients and blend, adding more coconut milk if needed. If you’d like a thinner sauce, (perhaps to use as a dressing), add 1-2 tsp of water at a time until the desired consistency is reached. You may also use reduced fat coconut milk for a thinner sauce!
- Use right away, or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.