For the tastiest Vietnamese summer rolls or spring rolls, the filling must have the right mix of savoury and fresh flavours AND the right balance in textures. Difficult, but I’ll tell you how we did it in our restaurant. Compose your own filling for the perfect Vietnamese summer roll with these tips!
Authentic recipe of the Vietnamese summer rolls?
On our first menu, more than thirteen years ago, we served an authentic version of the summer roll: with lettuce, rice noodles, herbs and thin slices of pork and shrimp. And guess what? The guests at the time were not very enthusiastic about this ‘tasteless’ spring roll, which they thought we had forgotten to deep fry.
Nowadays they’re very popular and everyone makes them at home!
I haven’t made the authentic version for a long time. Because sometimes authentic isn’t better. I listened to our guests.
Tips for the tastiest Vietnamese summer rolls
- Combine savoury with fresh flavours. A summer roll with only raw vegetables is just lettuce in rice paper.
- About a quarter to at most a third of the filling consists of meat, chicken, shrimps, tofu and/or omelette strips.
- Marinate meat, chicken, shrimp or tofu. This is the only ingredient of the summer roll with complex flavours. Think of marinades with hoisin sauce, oyster sauce or fish sauce with honey.
- Add fresh herbs such as: Thai basil, coriander and/or mint (not too much or only from the latter, unless you are a stingy restaurant owner).
- Pickled carrot gives a sour kick to the savory and fresh summer roll. In Vietnam these are put in the fish sauce vinaigrette. I find that a bit difficult to eat and prefer to roll it in the summer roll.
- Use only rice noodles. Other noodles, such as egg noodles or wheat noodles, are not light in taste and texture.
- Use thin rice noodles, never the wider flat rice noodles. These are also too ‘heavy’ for a light Vietnamese summer roll.
- Approximately three-quarters to two-thirds of the filling consists of equal parts of rice noodles, raw vegetables (lettuce and/or cucumber) and slightly less of the pickled carrot and fresh herbs.
- Adding too much rice noodles and raw vegetables will result in less tasty summer rolls. Add these to the summer roll for the textures. A little bit is enough.
- For a more savoury flavours: add crispy shallots and garlic and onion oil.
“The summer rolls are best if you have the right mix of savoury ingredients, fresh raw vegetables, rice noodles, fresh herbs and a fresh sour. And not less important: the right mix of textures.”
With such a flavourfull filling, you don’t need a dip sauce anymore. But dipped in spicy fish sauce vinaigrette or hoisin peanut sauce is actually very tasty. Or for the daredevils: a spicy mango sauce with shrimp paste!
How to roll a summer roll?
- Fill a deep plate with cold water.
- Prepare all the ingredients for the filling. All ingredients should be at room temperature.
- Put a rice sheet 2 seconds in the water and shake off the excess water. The rice sheet is completely wet and still firm. It will soften within a few seconds.
- Before the rice sheet is soft, put it on a chopping board or a round plastic disc especially for rolling summer rolls (you can buy it at a Asian grocery store). The rice sheet should be laying flat on top of it.
- Filling: start with 2 to 3 cm above the bottom edge and 2 cm from the side edges, placing thin rows of each ingredient on the rice sheet. Make sure to use only a little of all ingredients and that the filling stops about 5 to 6 cm below the top rim. Place the beautiful leaves with herbs and/or meat, fish etc. last on the rice sheet so they can be seen clearly when the filling is rolled up. Rather do a little less filling than too much. You don’t want the rice skin to snap through a large amount of stuffing.
- Rolling: first fold the bottom edge inwards. And then the sides. Then start rolling from the bottom up while holding the filling in place with your index, middle and ring fingers. In this way, roll the spring roll as tightly as possible.
- Wrap the summer roll in cling film if you don’t eat it right away. This way you can keep them fresh for a few hours.
“Yeah, for tastiest Vietnamese summer rolls, you gotta do some work!”