This past summer, my best friend and I traveled to Vietnam to visit her sister who had been teaching English there for the past year. Vietnam is no doubt one of the most inspiring places I’ve ever been (see some of my photos here), and the entire trip was one big adventure. I could go on and on telling stories from my travels, but today I’m here to talk about one of the biggest highlights of the trip: the FOOD. Vietnamese food is the freshest cuisine I have ever tasted—every traditional Vietnamese dish we ate bursted with a medley of flavors including lemongrass, mint, basil, cilantro, chili and lime. The one dish we found ourselves eating at nearly every stop were fresh spring rolls. They’re healthy, satisfying, delicious, and, as it turns out, pretty easy to make at home too. Plus, they only take about 30 minutes to whip up. When I returned from my trip this summer, I craved the flavors of the spring rolls we ate every day in Vietnam. So, I decided to put my culinary skills to the test and experiment with making this dish at home…
You can customize your spring rolls and put almost anything inside of them. I used shrimp as the protein in mine, but you can use tofu or even make an all-veggie spring roll. Once you get the hang of handling the rice paper, making this dish is a cinch. Serve yours as an hors d’oeuvre or as a side dish at a larger meal. Ready to roll? Here’s how to make my favorite Vietnamese fresh rolls…
Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls with Homemade Peanut Dipping Sauce
Makes 8 servings
For the spring rolls:
- 6 sheets of rice paper
- 1 cup carrots, julienned
- ½ cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- ½ cup fresh cilantro
- 2 cups cooked shrimp (you will use about three shrimp per roll)
- 2 limes
For the peanut dipping sauce:
Makes 2 cups
- one 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tablespoons crushed peanuts
1. Slice your carrots julienne style, peel the tails off your shrimp, and prepare your mint, sprouts and cilantro. Set your veggies and shrimp aside while you begin to work on your rice papers.
2. Boil three cups of water in a medium-sized saucepan, then remove from heat and let cool to a warm temperature. Make sure your water is not too hot or your rice paper will break apart! Once your water has cooled to a warm temperature, take one rice paper and soak in the warm water for about 10-20 seconds, or until flexible and sticky. Place rice paper flat on a glass or porcelain plate.
3. Begin placing your toppings in the middle of your rice paper. I like to place the shrimp down first so that you can see them when you eventually roll everything up.
4. Gently fold your rice paper like a mini burrito, folding in the sides as you roll it up. Seal off your roll by folding the rice paper completely, and place on a serving plate. Repeat until you have your desired amount of spring rolls.
5. Now for the peanut sauce… Use a food processor or blender to finely chop up your peeled piece of ginger and garlic clove together. Once completely chopped, add in the creamy peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, 1/3 cup water and brown sugar. Blend until smooth, adding more water as necessary. Taste-test your peanut sauce as you go! Scoop peanut sauce into a small bowl or ramekin and top with crushed peanuts for extra crunch and texture.
I also highly recommend serving a little Sriracha on the side if you like that extra kick with your spring rolls. I think it adds the perfect amount of spice.
Don’t these look absolutely delicious? They’re an easy snack to make during this Indian summer weather we’ve been having in LA lately, and if you’re a mom with kiddos, they’re the perfect healthy after-school snack too. I’ve made them a staple in my weekly menu ever since returning from my trip!
What other ingredients will you add to your fresh spring rolls?
I recommend making variations of the recipe above by adding shredded lettuce, bell peppers, mango, tofu, red cabbage, jalapeno slices—the options are endless. Enjoy!