Gỏi Cuốn or summer roll is considered a national dish of Vietnam and is one of the most popular Vietnamese dishes, aside from pho and banh mi. It’s a very fresh dish that bursts with flavor from an assortment of julienned herbs and vegetables, vermicelli noodles, and shrimp wrapped in a rehydrated rice paper wrapper. This recipe makes a refreshingly delicious snack during sticky summer months.
Origin and history
Gỏi Cuốn goes by many names: Vietnamese spring rolls, summer rolls, fresh spring rolls, Vietnamese cold spring rolls, or salad rolls.
Broadly speaking, we use the term spring rolls or summer rolls interchangeably. Although, the difference between spring rolls and summer rolls is more than just semantics. Spring rolls are wrapped in a dough made of flour and water and then deep-fried, while summer rolls are wrapped in a rice-paper and served cold.
The spring roll began as a traditional food eaten in the spring season. Its origin is believed to be from eastern China during the Jin Dynasty between 266 to 420 A.D. The families had to preserve the vegetables in the summer to last all year long and especially during cold winters. When the fresh vegetables were harvested in the spring, families would celebrate by making a pancake and wrapping it full of the season’s freshest vegetables, earning it the nickname ‘spring roll’.
Tips and notes
Making homemade Goi Cuon is very easy and can be done in three quick steps. First, you had to prepare the filling of rice noodles, shrimp, fresh vegetables, and herbs. Next, soak the rice paper in lukewarm water to soften them. The last step is to roll the fresh spring rolls using the rice paper.
Summer rolls come in many variations and the ingredients inside vary depending on the region and local culture. Originally, it’s made with rice noodles, lettuce, cucumbers, herbs, shrimp and/or pork.
Here are some tips to try this recipe:
- Before you begin assembling and rolling, set up a work station. It’s very important to have everything sliced and cooked to facilitate the wrapping.
- The ingredients of the summer rolls can be played around with based on what you like. You can try out various fillings knowing that a summer rolls filling’s usually has four parts:
- the cold protein: shrimp, pork, beef, tofu, crab, salmon, bacon … For our recipe, we’ve used shrimp and chicken.
- the vegetables: mainly you want to have a lot of crunches by adding carrots, cucumber, green/red/yellow pepper, purple cabbage, green onion, …
- the rice noodles or rice vermicelli. You can even substitute it with avocado or raw sprouts.
- the greens: herbs (cilantro, parsley, mint, basil, lemongrass, …) and lettuce(like butterhead, romaine, Batavia, arugula, or even spinach).
- You can totally make a vegetarian recipe by substituting shrimp and chicken with tofu or omit it altogether.
- The vegetables should be thinly sliced/julienned to make facilitate rolling the delicate rice-paper.
- Before rolling, the wrappers must be hydrated in lukewarm water to slightly soften (3-5 seconds). Usually, the instructions on the package will specify how to use them. Beware that the rice-paper must be soft but still a little firm and manageable.
The summer rolls are perfect for the summer month since they’re served uncooked and cold. They can be served as an amazing appetizer or a healthy lunch/dinner.
These rolls are usually served with a delicious peanut sauce, a soy/fish sauce, or a hoisin sauce for dipping.
- Filipino lumpiang sariwa (fresh lumpia) ;
- Fujianese popiah ;
- Vietnamese chả giò (nems) ;
- Filipino lumpia ;
- Cambodians nime chow.
Gỏi Cuốn: Vietnamese Summer Rolls
- 12 rice papers
- 24 shrimp, medium
- 200 g chicken breast
- 50 g rice vermicelli
- 1 carrot, large
- 1 cucumber, large
- 1 red pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 4-6 leaves butterhead lettuce
- Mint, fresh sprigs
- Peanut sauce, for serving
- Peel and devein the shrimp. Add the shrimp to a pan and cook for 1-2 minutes. Immediately remove the heat, let sit for 5 minutes, then slice the shrimp in half horizontally and set aside.
- Season and slice the chicken breast into cubes. Grill over medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Bring water in saucepan to a boil and soak the rice vermicelli 5 mins, then drain well. Cut the vermicelli into random lengths.
Preparing and Cutting the Vegetables
- Peel, slice the carrot in julienne and salt.
- Slice the cucumber and red pepper in julienne, then salt them.
- Chop and tear the lettuce in small pieces.
- Chop the mint leaves.
Assembling and Rolling
- Assemble all the prepared filling ingredients.
- Dip one of the rice papers in a bowl of hot water, moving it around until the whole wrapper is soft – about 3-5 secs.
- Place a rice paper wrapper on a board and at the left edge of the wrapper, add a few mint leaves, then four shrimp halves.
- Place some lettuce on the right edge.
- Place on top of the lettuce, a few strips of carrot, cucumber, and pepper, followed by some vermicelli finally some chicken cubes (Be cautious to not overfill the wrapper or they will be hard to roll).
- Lift slightly the top and bottom edge of the rice paper wrapper on top of the filling. Lift the left edge over the filling and, holding the filling in position with your fingers, start rolling up tightly. When you’re about halfway, fold the right edge slightly and fold the roll over so that it is completely enclosed.
- Repeat with remaining rice-papers.
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Sources: 1. Wikipedia - Gỏi cuốn: www.wikipedia.org