The dream of summer comes deliciously true: Vietnamese summer rolls

I guess all of us are familiar with Chinese spring rolls – the small, crisp delicacies are for many of us a welcome snack between meals. But Asian cuisine has a whole lot more to offer, (and healthier options too) than these tiny deep-fried rolls. Our colleague Ngoc has selected for us a traditional recipe from Vietnam: summer rolls (sometimes also called fortune rolls), where you can really taste the summery freshness we’re all so impatiently waiting for.


Summer rolls with prawns

For 8 persons

Preparation time: approx. 25 minutes

In the south of Vietnam, they are known as ‘gỏi cuốn’, and in the north of the country they are called ‘Nem cuốn’ – Europeans have dubbed them “summer rolls”! They are a classic constituent of Vietnamese cuisine, and are mostly by tradition eaten at home in a large group, with all the ingredients being placed on the table and each person assembling his/her own summer roll.

You can choose your favourite filling: you can roll up anything from pork, beef or chicken, fish or prawns, all the way through to omelette or tofu (for the vegetarians). You can individualise the ingredients to your own particular taste! This recipe for summer rolls features prawns.

The summer rolls are served together with a typical Vietnamese sauce. This is called ‘Nước mắm pha’ or ‘Nước chấm’, and basically consists of fish sauce, known as ‘Nước mắm’. In Vietnamese cuisine, it is served primarily with summer rolls, spring rolls, fish, and all kinds of barbecued delights.


What do I need?

8 sheets of rice-paper (ø 16 cm or ø 22 cm)

For the filling:

  • 200 g of rice noodles
  • 250 g of prawns
  • 8 lettuce leaves
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • 1 bunch of mint
  • ½ a bunch of chives
  • 100 g of bean sprouts

For the sauce:

  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 chilli pepper or ½ a chilli pepper
  • 4 tbs of fish sauce (nước mắm)
  • 1 ½ tbs of sugar
  • 250 ml of water
  • Half a lime


The filling

Blanch the prawns in boiling water for about 2 minutes until they rise to the surface. After draining off the water, half the prawns along the tail, and remove the intestine if necessary.

Boil the rice noodles, too, as instructed on the packet, until they are al dente, drain off the water and then rinse briefly in cold water. Drain off the water again.

Wash the lettuce and put 8 leaves to one side. Peel the cucumber and the carrot, then cut them into small sticks. Halve the chives, so that their length corresponds to half of the rice-paper. Rinse the coriander and mint with cold water. Pick the mint leaves off the stalks.


The sauce

Peel and chop the garlic. Peel and dice the carrot. Chop the chilli into small pieces. Mix it all with the fish sauce and stir in the water and the sugar. Squeeze the lime, and add the juice. You can also use vinegar instead of lime juice. Garnish with coriander to your taste.


‘Ready to roll’

Briefly wet the rice-paper with lukewarm water, and place it on a large plate. Careful! Don’t wet the rice-paper too much, since otherwise it may tear when you roll it.

First of all, place the lettuce leaf a bit above the bottom edge of the rice-paper, then distribute a small portion of rice noodles on top. Leave the side edge free. Then place the cucumber, carrot and bean sprouts on top. Later on, insert the chives so that they protrude from the roll at the sides. Lay the prawn halves on the heap of rice noodles, and then strew with coriander and mint leaves.

To roll them up, first place the bottom edge of the rice-paper over the filling, then fold over the side edges of the rice-paper towards the filling, and finish rolling it up. Press it all firmly together.

Now dip them in the sauce and enjoy!