Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls (+Video)
Learn how to make Vietnamese fresh spring rolls quickly and easily! Follow along on the video as I show you how to roll them up and serve them with my dynamite peanut dipping sauce! These spring rolls are light, healthy, and flavorful — everything lunch should be!
Spring is in the air! And so is the pollen.??? But at least it’s socially acceptable to make Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls; you know since it’s officially spring and all.
Ironically enough, we had the chilliest day we’ve had in over a month in Houston on the first day of spring. Go figure! I’ve been in Houston for (officially) most of my life now, and I still cannot get over this weird weather situation. For my friends that are up north and still stuck in this cold weather limbo, I feel for you. We’re experiencing your entire fall/winter/spring/summer in a matter of one week here in Houston.
But! It’s Monday, and though I’m not excited about that, I am excited about these super fresh spring rolls stuffed with cooked shrimp, crunchy carrots, rice noodles, herby cilantro, creamy avocados, fresh basil leaves, and crisp lettuce. This will wholly get you out of your Monday blues and leaping into the new week. The veggies// shrimp// avocados all get together and are rolled up in rice paper and then — you dip them in the most amazing, dynamite peanut dipping sauce. Seriously guys, I’ve used this peanut sauce on salads, spring rolls, egg rolls, and just rice noodles too. I’m OBSESSED with a capital ‘O,’ and I’m pretty sure you will be as well.
So this past week had been a roller coaster of fun// re-exploring Houston// kind of hectic with a car situation// bad eating thingamajigger style situation. But in all the chaos and commotion, I had the most amazing veggie-packed fresh spring rolls for dinner.
To be 100% honest with you, fresh spring rolls were kind of something I hadn’t made before and were always one of those “I’ll make those one day” kind of meals for me. They were a lunch staple for me in college, a quick veggieful lunch that was both filling and nutritious, but never something I had bothered to make at home; it was always a to-go from the sushi place on campus. And then remember how I went and told you I was going to start this 30 before 30 culinary bucket list? Well, these fresh spring rolls made the cut, and I’m so happy that they turned out pretty enough to be able to share them with you.
Because *gulp* for a minute there I was petrified when my first rice paper roll was a loose blobby mess in my hands. But once the initial jitter wore off and with some practice and soft muttered pep talks I was able to get it down by the third spring roll. And now I’ll be experimenting with difference fresh spring roll flavors, like maybe a fusion version? Thoughts? Tandoori chicken spring rolls anyone? Is the world ready for this?
Have you had these before? Fresh spring rolls, sometimes call Vietnamese spring rolls, hand rolls, rice paper rolls — to me, it’s all a fried egg roll/spring roll situation that’s been wrapped in a thin rice paper and is more ‘fresco style.’
It all starts with the veggies. I’ll be honest with you; this requires a little bit of prep work on your part. Slicing up the veggies and having them ready to go makes assembling these fresh spring rolls a simpler. I used lettuce, cucumbers, purple cabbage, carrots, avocados, cilantro, and basil but you can use any veggies you like. To make these traditional, I stuck with the thin rice noodles and shrimp. And though basil might not be traditional, I replaced the mint with it because mint is not my thing. You want to make sure you thinly sliced/julienne the veggies, so it makes it easy to pack the rolls. Traditional fresh spring rolls usually contain shrimp that are sliced lengthwise, but mine were thin enough to use whole.
Now the rice paper. You can find it in most mainstream grocery stores nowadays. If your grocery store has an international aisle, it’s most likely located there, or if you’ve got a sushi bar at your grocery store, sometimes they stock it there as well.
Okay, so remember when mama taught you that practice makes perfect? Yes, that’s it. The hardest part about making Vietnamese spring rolls is the actual rolling process. The wrappers come in a variety of different sizes, for best results, I don’t suggest working with anything smaller than 6 inches. I have a habit of eating with my eyes and stuff these rolls generously, so anything smaller would not work for me. I suggest using the 6-8 inch rice paper size. They tend to be the ideal size. When you see them in the store, they are crisp and definitely won’t bend without breaking. With a quick dip in some warm water, they soften and are easily manageable. Here’s a tip: lay the rice paper out on a wet surface, this helps keep it workable while you pile on the fillings. But remember to work quickly.
I used a clean wood cutting board that I’d wet now and then to keep the rice paper wrappers from sticking to the surface. But really, any smooth surface will do. I don’t suggest using a cutting board with texture, this creates air pockets and can make it difficult to fold the rolls.
Let’s roll. There are many different methods to making rice paper rolls, but the one I’ve using is the simple ‘egg roll’ or ‘burrito’ method. I start with a pile of rice noodles, herbs, and julienned veggies. The next layer is avocado slices, and the third is the shrimp. So you gently roll it over the rice noodle layer, then fold the left and right side in, then the avocados layer, and finally the shrimp. You are going to roll it three times. The first one goes over the rice noodles and veggies// the second it over the avocados// and the third is the shrimp. I promise it comes a lot more naturally once you watch the video than me trying to write it in words. And don’t worry if you don’t pick it up on the first roll, I sure didn’t!
And now for the homemade peanut dipping sauce. This is what makes these fresh spring rolls irresistible. I’ve had spring rolls with mediocre dipping sauce, and really, fresh veggies can only get you so far regarding flavor. I’m using simple ingredients like creamy peanut butter, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, lime juice and sriracha to spice up the sauce. Some crushed peanuts on top complete the sauce and boy, oh boy, it’s dynamite.
I’ve enjoyed the sauce on rice noodle bowls too, and I’m also planning on serving my peanut dipping sauce with grilled chicken satay in the summertime.
But for now, I’m going to enjoy this beautifully chilly spring morning and munch on fresh spring rolls for lunch!
peanut dipping sauce:
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter (see note)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 2 tablespoons EACH: soy sauce AND brown sugar (or more to taste)
- 2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sriracha or samba oelek
- optional: crushed peanuts
fresh spring rolls:
- 10 spring rolls rice paper wrappers
- 3 ounces cooked rice noodles
- 1 cup EACH: lettuce leaves, shredded purple cabbage, julienned carrots, AND julienned cucumbers
- fresh cilantro, basil, or mint
- 1 large avocado, sliced
- 30 medium cooked shrimp, (peeled) (see note)
- PEANUT DIPPING SAUCE: Add all the ingredients for the peanut dipping sauce in a medium bowl and use a whisk to combine. If your peanut sauce is thick, you can add 1 tablespoon of warm water at a time to help thin it to desired consistency. I only needed 1 tablespoon for this. Top with crushed peanuts if desired.
- I highly recommend watching the video I've linked in the text above a few times to help get a better understanding of how to make these rolls. Having all of the veggies ready to go before assembling the rolls also helps make this a smoother process.
- FRESH SPRING ROLLS: Pour 1- 1 1/2 cups of warm water into a shallow baking dish. Dip one sheet of rice paper wrapper at a time in the warm water for 10-15 seconds and allow it to become soft but still slightly firm. You don't want it to get slimy or anything. Move it over onto your work surface.
- ASSEMBLE: Place a small amount of rice noodles in a pile in ⅓ of the rice paper topped with lettuce leaves, purple cabbage, carrots, and cucumbers. Top it with a few sprigs of cilantro and a couple of basil or mint leaves. The next layer is a couple of slices of avocados placed next to the rice noodles and finally 3 pieces of shrimp placed in a row next to the avocados. Roll the bottom of the rice paper over the rice noodle and veggie pile, then fold in the left and right side, followed by roll # 2 over the avocados and roll #3 over the shrimp. Just like you would a burrito! Watch the video, it makes it so much easier! Place the rolls on a serving plate.
- If you aren't serving them right away, place a damp piece of paper towel on a serving plate and place the rolls apart from each other on there followed by a second sheet of damp paper towel.
- If you've got a peanut allergy, you can certainly make this same sauce with cashew butter.
- You can cut the shrimp length-wise if you'd like. Mine were thin enough to keep whole.
IS THIS A GOOD CHOICE FOR YOU?
*Please note: the nutritional facts calculated are an estimate based on the ingredients i’ve used. If you’d like a more accurate count, please calculate them using the ingredients/brands you’ve used to prepare the recipe. The nutritional facts for the spring rolls are on the left and are for EACH roll. The nutritional facts on the right are for the peanut dipping sauce, each serving is about 2 tablespoons.
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