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Summer Rolls Recipe aka Goi Cuon - Vietnam (Channel 4 Food)

MiMi's Vietnamese Summer Rolls

I've never been a fan of spring rolls. I'm fairly sure this is as a result of early exposure at school dinners to a comestible dubbed a pancake roll - a huge, solid, brown rectangle dripping with grease and flabby beansprouts.

But summer rolls are an entirely different matter. Fresh, light, stuffed with herbs and lettuce and other stuff so deliciously good for you that it's practically a salad, without the hair-shirt.

Herbs and rice paper

A traditional Vietnamese snack, summer rolls aka gỏi cuốn need at least one specialist ingredient (the rice paper wrappers), but it's worth schlepping out and stocking up.

Classic fillings are thin rice noodles, lettuce, pork and prawns. You can leave out the pork to make it meat-free or substitute fried tofu. I like to use diced roast pork belly (ok, so the claim to health food becomes wobbly here) or sometimes chunks of roast duck. You could use leftovers from a roast.

Lettuce-wise, you want to use butter, Boston or Bibb - the round, velvety type - as the fat leaves holds everything together nicely.

Butterhead lettuce

As for herbs, you can play with the mix to some extent. The best combo uses chives and coriander but also slightly esoteric herbs like perilla, cockscomb mint, and Thai basil, which give unexpected, citrussy, almost spicy notes.

You can get away with just chives, coriander, and mint however, and that will give the rolls just enough leafy pep.

Summer roll filling

Sometimes I add crispy dried shallots. That's veering into bánh cuốn territory, but as Vietnamese food expert Uyen Luu of Leluu Supperclub says, "You can add whatever you like to these rolls and make them your own".

They're a little tricky to make first time around but no cooking required, and with a bit of practice, you'll be making these as quickly as a sandwich - and as far as I'm concerned, they're much nicer than a sarnie in a packed lunch, or even a picnic ...

Summer rolls ready to rock

My Vietnamese Summer Rolls recipe on Channel 4 Food

(originally written to accompany Gordon's Great Escape to Vietnam)


Alex said…
I love fresh rolls (haven't had them since visiting Vietnam last year) and this is a very timely post as they're perfect for hot weather. Have been wanting new ideas to replace salads and sarnies in m'girlfriend's packed lunches, and summer rolls might be just the ticket.

Roast leftovers are a good idea too, and it might be a nice way to use up barbecue leftovers as well, provided I don't incinerate the meat! Reckon these'll taste very good with rice noodles and a pork cooked bun cha style if I can nail that.
josordoni said…
oh I love these... I like them with shredded carrot and ginger in them too..

and I've made them sort of like California Roll sushi with avocado and crab sticks, really good :)
I learned how to make them at Leluu's cooking class and I was amazed how easy they are. (if you manage to get all the ingredients of course, this might be more the challenge). Fresh summer rolls are one of the best dishes for me and I fully agree with you on spring rolls. Hate them, yuck.
meemalee said…
@Alex - Barbecue leftovers would be brilliant!

@Josordoni - Ha, love a crabstick!

@Ute @HungryinLondon - As soon as I can, I will try to book Leluu's cooking class - your review sounded amazing.
Kavey said…
I should not read this at 10.44 am when I have not yet had coffee or tea let alone breakfast.

BSG said…
I LOVE these, haven't made any in ages and the timing's perfect - thank you - I need something fresh and crisp on this heavy day. Great call with the crispy shallots too, and lovely pics :)
chumbles said…
A great post; those photos are breathtakingly good. Food porn at its best! And agreed too, re spring rolls; every five years ago I buy some and then after a bite question my sanity.
meemalee said…
@Kavey - Ha, sorry!

@BSG - Thank you - yeah, thought they'd be good for this weather :)

@chumbles - Think we're in the minority re spring rolls!
tori said…
Such beautiful photos. My absolute favourites have mint, prawns and a touch of lemongrass. Nb, to me they're perfect hangover food too.
These look lovely- am off to scour Mill Rd for the wrappers!
meemalee said…
@tori - Ha, good idea, though I'm not sure I'd be capable of making them whilst hungover.

@TheFastestIndian - They are sooo nice. Am sure one of the stores will have them.
Helen said…
They look bootiful! I can eat about a million summer rolls in one sitting.