Nothing says “spring” better than gỏi cuốn—that is, Vietnamese Spring Rolls. Made with fresh, raw vegetables, cooked shrimp, or sashimi-grade tuna, or smoked salmon, they are healthy and delicious. This dish originated in China, where it is eaten during the Spring Festival. Fried and called dim sum, it is a regional dish in Hong Kong and Macau. In Taiwan, non-fried rolls are called popiah and are often topped with peanut powder before they are wrapped. In southeast Asia, spring rolls are called lumpia and eaten as a savory snack. Known as Imperial Rolls in southern Vietnam, they are a delicacy—and it is this version that we present here:
Makes 14–16 rolls
1 lb. uncooked shrimp (alternatively, you can use sashimi-grade tuna, smoked salmon, or cooked pulled pork
1 package vermicelli or angel hair rice noodles
1 small cucumber or English cucumber, peeled or unpeeled, cut in julienne strips (Cucumber with its skin adds a crispy texture to your spring rolls.)
1 carrots, in julienne strips
1 head of butter lettuce, Boston (bibb) lettuce, or other soft leafy lettuce
1 large handful of cilantros, stems removed
STEP ONE: Peel and devein one pound of large shrimp. Put shells in saucepan with 1 tbsp garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, and a bay leaf. Add 8 cups of cold water and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook until it turns pink, about 2–3 minutes depending upon the size of the shrimp. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and immediately set them in a bowl of ice water. This stops them from overcooking and keeps them firm. Set aside in the bowl of ice water as the shrimp continues to cool completely.
STEP TWO: Vermicelli or Angel Hair Rice Noodles, 3–4 ounces. Cook according to the instructions on the package until they are tender. There are two ways you can prepare the noodles: cook in rapidly boiling water until they are soft, about two minutes; or, add the noodles to a medium-sized pan with rapidly boiling water, turn off the heat, and let the noodles sit, about 6 minutes or until soft. Either method will do and once the noodles are cooked, put them in a colander and rinse under cold water. Drain well and shake to get rid of excess water and set them aside.
STEP THREE: One at a time, take the shrimp from the cold water and cut in half lengthwise. Cut the fresh vegetables in julienne strips with a julienne slicer (or, carrots precut in julienne strips are available by the bag in some grocery stores.) Cut each lettuce leaf in half, removing the stems completely by cutting a “V” cut, until you have 16 pieces of lettuce.
STEP FOUR: Fill a 9-inch round Pyrex or glass pie plate with warm water. One at a time, hydrate a sheet of Spring Roll Skin for 10 seconds until it is soft and pliable. Remove from the pie plate and place on a lightly moistened cutting board.
- Add a lettuce leaf in the bottom half of the spring roll skin, slightly in from the outside edge.
- On top of that, add about a palm-sized amount of rice noodles.
- Top with julienned cucumbers and carrots, about the size of your thumb, and a few sprigs of cilantro.
- Now, on the top half of the skin, place three shrimp halves, equally spaced, cut side up, side-by-side and touching one another, about an inch from the outside of the spring roll skin.
STEP FIVE: Start wrapping the spring roll, starting from the lettuce side, keeping it tight, until you get to the shrimp. Fold the left and right sides of the skin inward and continue rolling over the shrimp until you have formed a roll. Transfer to your serving platter and cover with a moistened kitchen towel so the spring roll skin does not dry out. Continue making your spring rolls, one at a time, until all your ingredients are used up. Cut in half on a diagonal and arrange on the platter.
Spring Rolls are served with dipping sauces. You can buy duck sauce, sweet and sour sauce, or just soy sauce from the grocery store and serve them in small dipping bowls. Or make your own. Here are two delicious recipes you’ll want to try:
Vietnamese Fish Dipping Sauce
In a mixing bowl, whisk together:
1/3 cup of water
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
2 grated garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon grated carrots
Easy Peanut Dipping Sauce
In a Mason Jar pour:
1 cup Newman’s Own Sesame Ginger Dressing
2 heaping Tablespoons of creamy peanut butter
Shake thoroughly, then serve in a small bowl alongside the spring rolls.