These Vietnamese Spring Rolls are an insanely delicious flavor and texture explosion in every addictive bite!
These Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls make a fabulous light lunch, dinner or appetizer. They are packed with marinated veggies, juicy shrimp and rice vermicelli all dunked in out of this world Pineapple Hoisin Peanut Sauce. I’ve included all my tips and tricks and step by step photos (video coming soon) so you can be making these restaurant quality Fresh Spring Rolls like a pro!
Fresh Spring Rolls
Do you looooooove Vietnamese Spring Rolls?! They are also known as summer rolls, goi cuon, rice paper rolls and salad rolls, but by whatever name, they have long been a favorite order-every-time appetizer of mine so I am SO excited to be bringing them home to you!
These fresh spring rolls make a show stopping appetizer or healthy, light, refreshing lunch or dinner and you can prep all the ingredients ahead of time and just assemble when ready.
If you have never tried Vietnamese Spring Rolls, they are basically a fresh, bright textural and aromatic symphony of crunchy veggies, firm noodles, and plenty of fresh herbs all cocooned in a rice paper wrapper (more on the wrapper later). I’ve added shrimp to these spring rolls because – YUM – but feel free to leave it out.
You can also mix up the veggies, add avocado, mangoes, etc., but whatever you do, just make sure you have lots of crunch in your spring rolls – its all about the crunch.
WHERE DO SPRING ROLLS COME FROM?
Spring rolls are believed to have originated in China and are an appetizer staple in Asian cuisine. They are filled and rolled into a shape resembling a mini burrito. Their contents, and even their wrappings, vary their popularity is constant across all Asian restaurant menus!
As a celebration of winter ending and a decreased need for eating stored or preserved food, spring rolls are traditionally filled with fresh vegetables and served at spring festivals in China. Hence, the name!
This popular food item is also served in other Asian countries. Even Europe and Latin America serve versions of spring rolls in their restaurants. In Europe, they like to deep fry or even bake their spring rolls while in Southeast Asia (Indonesia or the Philippines), you’re more likely to find them served fresh. In India, spring rolls are typically served during Ramadan.
Just as the countries serving them vary in the way that they cook them, the fillings and the wrappers themselves are offered in a variety as well.
Spring ROLLS vs Egg Rolls
Spring Rolls and Egg Rolls are not the same thing. Spring rolls typically use spring roll wrappers or rice paper and are served fresh, but they can also be fried. Egg rolls are almost always fried and are made with a thicker flour-based wrapper, resembling more of a pastry skin.
What are Vietnamese spring rolls made of?
Vietnamese Spring rolls feature fresh spring vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, or bean sprouts. Really though, you can use whatever vegetables you’d like- or even add fruit! I like to use shrimp in my spring rolls but you may also use minced pieces of meat like pork or chicken.
One element of Vietnamese Spring Rolls you might not be familiar with is rice vermicelli. Rice vermicelli is a classic element in Vietnamese Spring Rolls and is also known as thin rice noodles or rice sticks.
Most importantly, these rice noodles can be found in the Asian section of almost every grocery store – so don’t be tempted to skip them! They truly MAKE these Fresh Spring Rolls in my opinion and they are super easy to prepare.
The other distinguishing factor of Vietnamese Spring Rolls is the rice paper. You will want to make sure you use rice paper and not wrappers made of wheat flour found in the freezer section that look like egg roll wrappers.
ARE SPRING ROLL WRAPPERS AND RICE PAPER THE SAME THING?
No they are not, so take care you purchase the correct wrapper for your spring rolls. They are both made from much of the same ingredients (rice flower and water), but they are used differently.
Spring roll wrappers are denser than rice paper. You have to add water to the corners of spring roll wrappers to get them to stick together. These wrappers look like large wonton wrappers and need to be baked or fried.
WHAT ARE FRESH SPRING ROLL WRAPPERS MADE OF?
The spring roll wrappers we want for this Vietnamese Spring Roll recipe is made out of rice paper. Rice paper comes in a firm disc that deceptively looks and feels like thin plastic but is actually mainly rice flour.
The wrappers are thin, clear and become translucent, brittle and will even fall apart when submerged in water if it isn’t removed quickly enough.
I purchased my rice paper wrappers from Amazon and they were perfection for these Vietnamese Spring Rolls.
HOW TO MAKE SPRING ROLLS
Step 1: Marinate Shrimp
Many Spring Roll recipes fall flat because although they are fresh, they rely solely on the Peanut Sauce for flavor – so the roll is just a bundle of veggies – might as well eat a veggie platter. But not these Vietnamese Spring Rolls!
I’ve concocted a Sweet Chili Marinade by whisking Asian sweet chili sauce, pineapple juice, honey, fish sauce, garlic powder and ginger together. We add a couple tablespoons of this dynamic marinade to everything – the veggies, the noodles, the shrimp, even the Pineapple Hoisin Peanut Sauce so every single element is infused with flavor and stand alone delicious. I had to pull myself away from eating all the shrimp or I wouldn’t have any left to make rolls with – everything is independently that good.
Step 2: Cook Shrimp
While on the subject of shrimp, you can totally leave it out, like I mentioned earlier, if you are not a shrimp fan/don’t have any on hand, but if you are a shrimp lover, you will loooove this juicy shrimp sauteed in butter, seasoned with salt and pepper then enveloped in some Sweet Chili Marinade – and it takes under 5 minutes to make!
After we saute our shrimp, we remove them to a cutting board and slice in half lengthwise. We want the shrimp nice and thin to stay proportional with the rest of the filling and so they will lay flat in the delicate wrapper.
Step 3: Rice Vermicelli
After we cook our shrimp, we use the same pan to boil some water then add our rice vermicelli and let it sit until al dente, 5-10 minutes (follow package directions). That’s it!
The only thing to be aware of is to not overcook the noodles because mushy noodles completely defeats their entire purpose. So just test a noodle every few minutes or so and you’ll be in perfect form.
Step 4: How to Dampen Rice Paper
The main mistake people make when using rice paper wrappers is soaking them too long – this will make them mushy, sticky, hard to work with and destined to tear.
Instead, we want to just dip the wrappers into the room temperature water for a few seconds, just long enough to soften slightly but still firm enough that they keep their shape when you remove them from the water – their edges shouldn’t be falling all over the place. It might take you 1-2 tries to perfect your timing and to get the feel of working with rice paper, but after that, it will be a breeze.
- Fill 9-inch pie plate with 1 inch warm temperature water.
- Dip one wrapper into the water for approximately 5 seconds to soften but still remain slightly firm but pliable.
- Lay rice paper flat on either a damp clean kitchen towel, ceramic, plastic, marble or nonstick mat. I don’t recommend wood as the wrappers tend to stick to it.
How to Assemble Spring Rolls
There is no right or wrong way to assemble/layer your Vietnamese Spring Rolls but I find it easiest (and prettiest) to first place the Boston lettuce leaf half in the center of the wrapper then top with the rice vermicelli, veggies, cilantro, mint and basil.
Be careful not to overstuff the roll as it will make it harder to roll and more likely to tear. After you make a roll or two, you’ll get the hang of how much filling to add.
Next we line 3 pieces shrimp halves in a row next to the filling to ensure they show up on the outside of the spring roll. I like to then add 2 basil or mint leaves in between the shrimp as pictured, but this is purely decorative.
How to Roll Spring Rolls
Roll up spring roll wrappers carefully and tightly like you would a burrito. Starting with the side away from the shrimp, gently pull the bottom of the roll over the first row of filling then fold in the sides and continue to roll. Repeat process until all spring rolls are assembled.
Peanut Sauce For Spring Rolls
Vietnamese Spring Rolls wouldn’t be complete without the delectable peanut sauce! I’ve amped up traditional peanut sauce to create Pineapple Hoisin Peanut Sauce is eat-it-with-a-spoon deeeeeeeeelish. It truly is phenomenal and super easy to make.
To make the peanut sauce, simply whisk together a couple tablespoons of your Sweet Chili Marinade, hoisin sauce (like Asian BBQ Sauce, found in the Asian section of your grocery store), pineapple juice and peanut butter then simmer until peanut butter is melted and the sauce is sightly thickened.
Most Vietnamese Peanut Sauces use water to thin and vinegar for a bit of tang but by adding pineapple juice we achieve both and superior flavor.
HOW DO YOU KEEP SPRING ROLLS FRESH?
The best way to keep spring rolls fresh is by serving them right after making them or consuming within a few hours. If you need to make them in advance, then I suggest prepping all the elements like the shrimp and veggies then assembling as close to serving as possible.
HOW DO I STORE Vietnamese SPRING ROLLS?
Tightly wrap each one spring roll in plastic wrap immediately after assembling then place all of the spring rolls in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I don’t recommend lining them on a plate and covering with plastic wrap because they will stick to each other, won’t keep their shape as well and can dry out easier.
How long do Vietnamese spring rolls last?
When properly wrapped and refrigerated, Vietnamese Spring rolls will last up to two days but are best if consumed within six hours. Be aware that the spring roll wrappers will not taste as fresh and might even get a little rubbery when refrigerated for longer than six hours.
CAN I FREEZE SPRING ROLLS?
No, I don’t recommend freezing spring rolls made with rice paper wrappers. Rice paper is very temperamental and will get soggy and even tear after freezing and defrosting. The rice vermicelli does not freeze well either and will become a funny texture.
ARE SPRING ROLLS BAD FOR YOU?
Spring rolls are one of those accidentally healthy appetizers or meals. Their stuffed with veggies, sautéed shrimp or protein and served in fresh rice paper wrappers that are dipped in water and not fried.
So now that I’ve written an essay on How to Make Spring Rolls, I hope you try them! You will NOT be disappointed. They are worth every ingredient and every step for OVER THE TOP YUM!
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Fresh Shrimp Spring Rolls with Pineapple Hoisin Peanut Sauce
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- 10 8.5 inch round rice wrappers
- 1 tablespoon butter
- salt and pepper
Sweet Chili Marinade
- 3 tablespoon Asian sweet chili sauce (like Mae Ploy)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
- 15 medium shrimp peeled, deveined, tail on or off
- 2 ounces rice vermicelli/thin rice noodles/rice sticks don’t skip!*
- 1 cucumber, julienned
- 1 large carrot, peeled, julienned
- 1/2 large red bell pepper, julienned
- 5 Boston lettuce leaves, halved lengthwise
- 1/2 cup loosely packed mint
- 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup loosely packed basil
Pineapple Hoisin Peanut Sauce
- 2 tablespoons reserved Sweet Chili Mix (in directions)
- 1/4 cup QUALITY hoisin (Lee Kum Kee or Kikkoman)
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
- sriracha to taste
Sweet Chili Marinade
- Whisk together the Sweet Chili Marinade ingredients in a small bowl.
Pineapple Peanut Hoisin Sauce
- Add 2 tablespoons Sweet Chili Marinade to a small saucepan followed by all remaining Pineapple Hoisin Peanut Sauce ingredients. Stir to combine as you bring to a simmer. Simmer gently until peanut butter melts and Sauce is slightly thickened then remove from heat. Sauce will thicken more as it stands.
- Melt butter in Dutch oven or saucepan with high sides over medium high heat. Add shrimp and season with ⅛ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Sauté until opaque, about 3 minutes. Remove to a plate. Once cool enough to handle, cut off tails if needed then cut shrimp in half lengthwise. Add 2 tablespoons Sweet Chili Marinade to shrimp and toss to combine.
- Add 4 quarts water to now empty Dutch oven and bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Stir in rice vermicelli and let sit, stirring occasionally until noodle are tender but not mushy, 5-10 minutes (according to package directions). Taste often so you don’t overcook your noodles. Drain noodles and pat dry then toss with 2 tablespoons Sweet Chili Marinade.
- Combine cucumber, carrots and bell pepper in a medium bowl. Add remaining Sweet Chili Marinade and toss to combine.
- Prepare your work surface by lining a flat surface with a clean damp kitchen towel or use a ceramic, plastic or marble cutting board (don’t use wood as wrapper will stick to it)
- Fill 9-inch pie plate with 1 inch warm water. Dip one wrapper into the water for approximately 5 seconds to soften but still remain slightly firm – you want your wrapper to still hold its shape when you remove it from the water. It will become more pliable as you work with it. Lay wrapper flat on work surface. (Don’t be worried if it takes you a couple times to get it right, the biggest mistake people make is soaking their wrappers too long so they easily tear and become hard to work with).
- In the middle of the wrapper, place one Boston lettuce leaf half. Top with a couple tablespoons rice vermicelli followed by some veggies, cilantro, mint and basil. Be careful not to overstuff the roll as it will make it harder to roll and more likely to tear. Line 3 pieces shrimp in a row next to the filling. Place 2 basil or mint leaves in between shrimp as pictured if desired – this is purely decorative.
- Roll up wrappers carefully and tightly like you would a burrito. Starting with the side away from the shrimp, gently pull the bottom of the roll over the first row of filling then fold in the sides and continue to roll. (see pictures in post). Repeat process until all spring rolls are assembled.
- Slice each spring roll in half if desired and garnish with sesame seeds. Serve with Pineapple Hoisin Peanut Sauce. If Sauce has become too thick, simply stir in some water to reached desired consistency.
- You can make all of the components for the spring rolls ahead of time and store in the refrigerator until ready to assemble. Then assemble when ready.
- To store, wrap each spring roll individually in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Spring rolls are best served immediately because the wrapper itself tastes the most fresh. That being said, if these spring rolls are for personal use, then they still taste great for up to 3 days, the wrappers just taste more dry. If you are making ahead of time for company, then I would assemble and store (as described above) for no more than 4 hours ahead of time for maximum freshness.
STORAGE:Tightly wrap each one spring roll in plastic wrap immediately after assembling then place all of the spring rolls in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Store for 6 hours up to 48 hours. Fresh Spring Rolls are best consumed fresh as the rice paper can become soggy and gummy.
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