Gỏi cuốn translates literally as salad rolls, but they are more commonly known as summer rolls in the West. Possibly to distinguish between the fried ‘spring roll’, or, because the ingredients are well-suited for eating during the warmer summer months? Wrapped in rice paper (bánh tráng) and filled with an assortment of precisely cut vegetables, rice vermicelli, prawns, lettuce and fresh herbs (eaten whole as salad leaves in Vietnam), they were traditionally eaten at home amongst a large gathering. If you can find perilla, a purplish green herb from the mint family, be sure to include it as it adds a spicy sweetness that pairs nicely with the coriander and prawns. If not, thai basil and regular mint will do. A great starter or light lunch, serve Gỏi cuốn with lots of homemade peanut sauce and nuoc cham for dipping.
Gỏi Cuốn (makes 12)
25 raw, peeled and deveined shrimp
12 medium pieces of lettuce leaves
1 carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
1/2 cucumber, seeds removed and cut into thin matchsticks
6 radishes, cut into thin rounds
5 sprigs each of mint, thai basil and perilla, leaves removed
5 sprigs of coriander, ripped
1 portion of rice vermicelli
vegetable stock (or salted boiling water)
12 pieces of rice paper rounds (plus extra for mistakes or for doubling up)
- Cook the prawns in simmering vegetable stock or salted water until they become white (approx. 2 min). Set aside.
- Prepare the dipping sauces. See below.
- Place the rice vermicelli in a bowl and pour boiling water on top to cover. Let cook for 2-3 min. Drain, rinse with cold water and return to the bowl.
- Prepare the mirepoix by placing the lettuce, herbs, prawns, and cut radishes, carrots and cucumbers in separate, small bowls. Prepare a separate bowl with warm water.
- Dip each wrapper in the warm water for 30 seconds. They should be pliable, but If you are worried about ripping, you can double up. Lay on a flat surface.
- Begin to layer the filling 1/3 of the way from the bottom of your rice paper wrapper, starting with the prawns first so that the pretty colour shows through the translucent wrapper. Next add the herbs, vegetables, lettuce, and finally, noodles.
- Wrap the bottom 1/3 of the wrapper over the stack of filling, then tuck each side in and roll up until you have a tight cigar shape. Repeat until all the filling and wrappers have been used. Place rolls on a plate seam side down and wrap in plastic wrap or cover with lettuce leaves to keep fresh. Serve immediately or refrigerate for 1-2 hrs before serving.
4 tbl natural peanut butter
1 1/2 tsp sugar (omit if using processed peanut butter)
4 tbl tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp sriracha
250 ml water
120 ml hoisin sauce
roasted peanuts for garnish
- Heat the peanut oil in a small saucepan, add the sriracha, garlic and tomato paste and fry until the garlic turns golden brown.
- Add the water, peanut butter, sugar and hoisin sauce and whisk to dissolve peanut butter. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer for 3 min. garnish with ground peanuts.
- Combine the fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to just before a boil.
- Remove from heat and let cool. Add in garlic, chili, lime juice and coriander just before serving.