Summer Rolls or Rice Paper Rolls are a popular street food snack or light meal in Vietnam. They are fresh, delicious and healthy, and full of lots of crunchy vegetables. This version has prawns and mango, but you can add whatever you like – pork, beef, mushrooms, avocado and whatever vegetables you have in the fridge. Peppers, celery, radish and bean sprouts are all a lovely addition. In Vietnam the most traditional Summer Rolls have sliced pork and prawns as the topping with noodles, herbs, salad leaves, cucumber and spring onions. They are also gluten free.
You can assemble all the rice paper rolls in advance or you can assemble the ingredients and then get your family or guests to make them themselves for a DIY dinner!
A note on rice paper (banh trang): I have found that different brands of rice paper wrappers need to be soaked for different lengths of time. Some just need a quick dip in the water and some need to be soaked for about 20 seconds, you may need to experiment to see what works best for the wrappers you have bought. Remember, you don’t want the wrapper to be totally soft when you take it out of the water as it will continue to get softer as the water soaks in. If it is too soft it may be difficult to work with and/or tear as you roll it up.
As indicated by Jo’s enthusiastic face, these are two of the many brands of rice paper that we like to use.
Makes 10 rolls (which serves 4-5 people as a starter or snack)
10 x 22cm circular sheets of rice paper (also known as banh trang, you can buy these from an Asian supermarket or online at Sous Chef)
15 cooked prawns (sliced in half lengthwise so you keep the lovely semi circular prawn shape)
1 mango (finely sliced)
1 carrot (cut into 5 cm batons)
1/2 cucumber (cut into 5cm batons)
3 spring onions (cut into 5cm lengths)
200g vermicelli noodles
A handful of finely sliced lettuce or cabbage
A handful of mint leaves
A handful of coriander leaves
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of lime juice
1 clove of garlic (finely sliced)
Pinch of chilli flakes or 1 finely chopped red chilli
OR Sweet chilli sauce – for dipping
First, put the vermicelli noodles in a bowl and pour over boiling water. Allow to soak for five to ten minutes (until soft) and then drain.
Meanwhile make the dipping sauce by combining the fish sauce, vinegar and sugar in a saucepan. Heat up the mixture while stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool and then add the lime juice,sliced garlic and fresh chilli or chilli flakes. Alternatively you can use a sweet chilli sauce for dipping.
Next assemble all your other ingredients separately in bowls or on a large platter ready to make up the Summer Rolls.
Dip one sheet of rice paper in a wide bowl of cold water, shake off the excess water and place it on a plate or chopping board. Don’t worry if it isn’t totally soft, the wrapper will continue to soften as the water sinks in. Place a small amount of sliced lettuce or cabbage, mint, coriander and vermicelli noodles at the edge of the rice paper closest to you.
Beside the herbs and noodles a few batons of carrot, cucumber and spring onion. Next, beside the vegetable batons, put three halves of prawn (pink skin side down) and then on top a few thin slices of mango.
Roll up from the edge nearest you, until you reach the prawns & mango, then fold in the sides and continue rolling to make a nice neat package. The three pink prawns should be in a neat line on top of the roll with the mango peeking through behind the prawns. Keep going until you have used up all the rice paper wrappers. See the handy diagram at the bottom of the page!
Serve immediately or as soon as possible with the dipping sauce.