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Monday, March 15, 2010

If Martha Made Vietnamese-- Gỏi Cuốn-Salad Rolls

Stacey-  Turn away now!!!  Do not read or look any further!!!  Fair warning...

Vietnamese salad rolls are also called fresh spring rolls or summer rolls.  Don't get the name confused with spring rolls, that are made with a different type of wheat wrapper and are fried.  Salad rolls (along with phở) typify Vietnamese cuisine and are often what we Caucasians first think of when someone says Vietnamese food.  In my opinion, what makes salad rolls so delicious is the simplicity of the ingredients.  Fresh herbs and flavors, combining together.  Sunny learned how to make these rolls first and has become our resident salad roll maker.  This weekend Sunny had a friend over and the three girls made us lunch!  Lucky us!

Salad rolls traditionally have shrimp and possibly pork, or minimally some type of meat, but they are VERY easy and still yummy to make vegetarian style by just leaving out the meat.

They are usually an appetizer at restaurants, but here at the Crazy 8 house, they are often a light meal in their own right.  Especially for lunch.  Either way, they are yummy!

The wrappers for salad rolls are are in the noodle isle of the Asian market.  (Again, do not get the wheat wrappers in the freezer or refrigerator section that are for fried spring rolls.)  These wrappers are rice paper and are hard, dry, and very thin.

Dip the wrapper in warm water for a few seconds.  It will still be stiff when it comes out of the water.  But by the time you layer all the ingredients in it, they will have softened and will be ready to roll it up.

Lay a small lettuce leaf in the middle of the wrapper.  Then lay in

  • vermicelli noodles
  • 1 medium shrimp or 2-3 smaller shrimp 
  • bean sprouts
  • 2-3 cilantro leaves 
  • 2-3 mint leaves
The above ingredients are kinda the essentials, (and easy enough to leave out the shrimp if you want to go vegetarian) but please add more to cater to your family's tastes.  These are some inclusions that I see regularly in salad rolls.
  • carrots-julienned
  • cucumber-seeded julienned
  • pork, thinly sliced (from a pork chop, pork loin...)
  • Thai basil leaves
Now don't put in to much or it will be very difficult to roll up and the rice paper may split.  Then roll them up by folding the ends over and rolling it up.  Try to roll them up as tightly as you can with out the rice paper splitting.  The rice paper will be sticky and stick to itself.  

Rolling them up takes some practice.  You may end up with a few "blob" salad rolls at first.  That's ok.  They're still tasty and practice makes perfect.  

You can make these rolls a couple hours before serving, but cover till it's time to eat.
We'll pause for a moment and notice Sunny's shirt.  Sunny and I took a mother-daughter hip-hop class, and she whipped up this t-shirt.  Thug? Nasty? Gangsta?  Maternal sigh...  What's a mama to do?  No, seriously, what is a mama to do?  And while we're busy getting distracted, it was obvious that both my hip and my hop were broken at least a couple decades ago.  

As you are eating, everybody gets their own little bowl of peanut dipping sauce.  You can easily make the sauce, or it is sold in jars at the Asian market.

Recipe- Vietnamese Salad Rolls (Gỏi Cuốn)
(makes 12 salad rolls)

Shrimp-peeled, cleaned, and cooked (12 medium or 24-30 small)
1/3 lb boneless pork (shoulder, loin, chop...) optional
12 lettuce leaves (butter, or romaine)
6 oz rice vermicelli (cooked-soak in very hot water for 3-5 minutes)
1 c bean sprouts
fresh cilantro (12-16 sprigs)
fresh mint leaves (12-16 sprigs)
12 sheets rice paper rounds
2 carrots-julienned - optional
1 cucumber - seeded and julienned - optional

Peanut dipping sauce (honestly, I just buy it at the market, but Sunny likes to doctor it up at home with usually extra brown sugar, fish sauce, plum sauce, lime juice, and peanut butter.  But if you really want to make your own, try this recipe.)
1/2 c water
1 c finely chopped onion
1/2 hoisin sauce
1/4 c plum sauce
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c creamy peanut butter
4 T lime juice, freshly squeezed

PS-My girl had some tough decisions to make this weekend!  Some didn't turn out so well.  But when it came to the BIG choices, the ones we teach about since they were little and the ones that leave mamas and papas sitting on a couch late at night consumed with worry, she done good!  I am beaming with pride at her choices.  She may be a thug nasty gangsta, but she's my girl.  Keep it up, Sunny!


  1. Way to go Sunny!
    The food looks delicious and I kinda feel like a loser that I haven't ever tried it before. I am buying the ingredients this week and making it. I promise!

  2. Way to go Hannah! Proud Auntie too... OK, I love this recipe. We get the vietnamese chicken salad rolls at Pei Wei occasionally because they are GLUTEN FREE! They are also good to dip in the sweet chili sauce, if you like that style :o) Yummy, I might do this one.

  3. Those look AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I love the shirt...and that you took a hip hop class together. :)

  4. i couldn't look away, the pictures were too pretty. i didn't get nauseated too badly.

    i want that shirt on Tess, it would be soooo hilarious.

  5. Sherri-Tell me when you want to go to the Asian market one day. we'll get the supplies, make them together at my house, and you can take them home! Make a day of it!

  6. Oh that sounds like a super fun idea! What do the next two weeks look like for you? Are the noodles made out of rice?

  7. Yum! Thanks for sharing how to make these.


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