I‘ve always loved Vietnamese Salad rolls (gỏi cuốn), and I’ve been making them off and on for decades, so I don’t know why I haven’t shared them with you guys before. If you haven’t had them, they are cool and refreshing, with a tender but slightly chewy rice paper wrapper surrounding thin rice noodles, lettuce, herbs, and your choice of other ingredients. For today’s version, I used shiso instead of lettuce for a more pronounced and complex herbal flavor.
If this is your first time making salad rolls, allow yourself a fair amount of time to prep all the ingredients and make the rolls. This isn’t a weeknight dinner for a busy family with young kids kind of thing. It will probably take you a few tries to get the hang of rolling them up neatly, but don’t worry, even your failures will still be delicious. This YouTube video is worth watching to see the right moves – you can skip to about 2:00 in to skip the cooking of the meat she’s using. You could also try her more traditional peanut and hoisin dipping sauce instead of the sweet chili version below.
Two of these rolls per person is a good sized appetizer; three and you are up into light lunch territory.
Oh: the kind of rice paper you want is like this. It should say bánh tráng on the package and not be flavored with anything like sesame.
Vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and kosher
- Juice of 3 limes
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 stalk lemongrass, bottom 3" only, crushed and minced
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
- 12 rice paper wrappers
- 24 shiso leaves
- 1 bunch fresh mint, leaves only
- 1 bunch cilantro sprigs (leaves and tender stems)
- 1/4 pound rice vermicelli, cooked according to package directions and cooled
- 1 cucumber peeled, halved, and thinly sliced lengthwise, trimmed to 4" lengths
- 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
- 1 pound tofu, pan fried as in this recipe, cooled, and cut into 24 pieces
- Whisk all ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasoning. Reserve.
- Arrange all of the ingredients near your work surface. Fill a pie plate or other shallow pan large enough to hold one of the rice paper wrappers with very hot water.
- To make one roll, submerge a rice paper wrapper in the hot water for just a few seconds. It will still be fairly firm when you remove it. Don't worry, it will continue to hydrate while you arrange the ingredients.
- Place the wrapper on a flat surface. Near the edge closest to you, arrange 2 shiso leaves so they cover about 2/3rds of the width of the edge. Top with a few mint leaves and cilantro sprigs. Top with a small amount of rice noodles - this is hard to measure, but less than you think you should use. Now, in a line parallel to the first, but close to the center, place a slice of cucumber and a few pieces of carrot. Finally, parallel and close to the far edge, arrange two pieces of tofu.
- Begin by rolling completely around the herbs and noodles, slightly tucking under. Then fold in the edges like for a burrito, and then continue rolling to enclose the cucumber, carrot, and tofu. You want to use reasonably firm pressure but not enough to burst the wrapper. Don't worry, you'll get the hang of it in just a few tries!