When I was about 7 or 8 years old, my mom taught me how to make this healthy and delicious dish. At the dining table, my family would have a plate with each of the ingredients and we would all make our own spring rolls. Not to age myself, but let’s just say I’ve been making these for a long time. However, because I’m usually only cooking for myself or one or two friends, I’ve found it easier to make them all myself instead of having to teach them.
There are many variations to making spring rolls, like switching up the proteins or adding extra herbs, but this is the way I adapted my mom’s recipe to fit my taste preferences and my busy schedule. And because you have so much free reign on what to put in them, they’re perfect to make for people with exclusive diets, like for those who are gluten-free or vegetarians. These are also great to make in the summer when it’s hot outside and you just want to eat something cool and light, but still filling.
Super Easy Spring Rolls (Gỏi Cuốn)
(makes 8 spring rolls)
12 cooked, deveined jumbo prawns
half of a 10.58 oz bag of fine rice vermicelli noodles (bún sợi nhỏ)
1 head of red lettuce (rinsed and dried)
8 large sheets of tapioca sheets (bánh tráng)
dipping fish sauce or garlic hoisin sauce (recipe below)
- Start by cooking the rice noodles according to the package. Be extra careful because they cook much more quickly than pasta noodles and it is a sad, sad time when they are overcooked (firsthand advice, don’t go for a quick TV break while the noodles are cooking. You won’t be back in time). When they are soft but still have a very slight bite to them, pour them into a colander and rinse them with cold water while tossing them with chopsticks or a fork. This rinses off the extra starches and stops the noodles from continuing to cook. Once they’re completely cooled, let them sit in the colander for about 10 minutes, tossing them every minute or two so that the noodles don’t stick together and become one large uncooperative mass. If you’re opting for the garlic hoisin sauce, you can make it while the noodles drain.
- Take the cooked prawns and cut them in half down their backs. Set them aside until the action starts.
- Now to assemble these little rolls of awesomeness (the action is starting). This gets difficult to describe, so included a video. In a large bowl full of warm water or just under the faucet, wet the 2 tapioca sheets on both sides until it’s completely wet (but don’t overdo it because it will start getting soft on you. That’s what she said.) and put it on a plate.
- I like to have 2 plates going at a time so while I’m rolling one spring roll, the next tapioca sheet will be softening and waiting for me.
- It’ll take a minute or so for them to soften up. You can tell when they’re ready if every edge loses its rigidity and is ready to (rock and) roll. (Please refer to the video to fully appreciate the pun)
- Put 3 prawn halves in a line across the middle of the tapioca sheet.
- Take 2 lettuce leaves and fold them so that the crunchy part fits on top of the shrimp leaving an inch on each side of the tapioca sheet.
- Take about 1/8 of a cup of rice noodles and put it on top of the lettuce, spreading it across.
- Here’s when it gets kind of crazy, and there are many techniques to doing this. Holding the noodles, lettuce, and prawns down with your four non-thumb fingers, take your thumb and fold the end closest to you away from you.
- Take your four fingers out and use them to tighten the fold as best you can without tearing the fragile tapioca sheets.
- Now fold over the two sides tightly (again, without ripping it) and continue rolling it until it comes together.
- Tada! You’ve got yourself a spring roll!
- Repeat those steps to finish the other 7 spring rolls.
- Scoop yourself the sauce of your choice and enjoy your hard work!
Garlic Hoisin Sauce
(makes about 1.5 cups)
1 cup hoisin sauce
1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup water
- Heat the oil in a small saucepan (I like using nonstick) at medium heat. When it feels hot when you hover your hand over the saucepan (but not to the point where the pan is smoking), throw in the garlic and saute for about a minute until golden, but not burnt.
- Pour the hoisin sauce into the pan (you may want to take the pan off the heat so it doesn’t splash onto you) and mix them together. Turn the heat to medium-low while you prepare the flour slurry.
- Whisk the water and flour together in a cup or small bowl (I usually use chopsticks or a fork). Set aside.
- Turn the heat up to medium-high and pour in half of the flour slurry. Combine it thoroughly into the garlic and hoisin sauce. This will cut the saltiness of the hoisin sauce while still keeping it a thick consistency.
- Once the sauce thickens up again, taste to see if it suits your saltiness preference. If it’s still too salty, add more of the slurry and wait for it to thicken and taste it again. Remember that you still want it to be a little salty because the spring rolls themselves are pretty bland and the sauce brings the savory factor to it.
- Let it cool and it’s ready to serve!