My favourite way of eating healthy in the summer is with these Vietnamese Salad Rolls (gỏi cuốn). It’s basically a salad within some rice paper. The best part is that it’s totally customizable — add whatever fillings you like or have on hand. I always add vermicelli noodles to mine, just to bulk them up, but you can omit them if you’re watching your carb intake.
These salad rolls are great in the summer because there’s virtually no cooking involved. If you do add noodles, it’s just a matter of boiling them and that’s it. The prep work does take a little bit of time, but if you have helping hands, it goes by pretty quick. I like to do the prep work ahead of time during the day, so that when it comes to dinner time, I just soak the rice paper, roll and eat.
Rice paper is a thin edible sheet made of rice starch. It is sold in dry form, and you prepare it by soaking the paper briefly in some hot water. No cooking! I personally love the texture of rice paper — it’s soft but chewy. Some brands are more chewier than others, and some are softer and tend to rip more easily.
I use the large round rice paper to roll my salad rolls, but I have seen square ones as well as smaller round ones in the supermarket.
I love serving these salad rolls with my peanut chili sauce. A little spice from the chili oil and richness from the peanut butter gives the rolls a little oomph. Or, you can just dip them in soy sauce, like my son does. Dinner can be easy and healthy with these fresh, vibrant salad rolls! Try making them and let me know what you would put in your rolls.
Vietnamese Salad Rolls (Gỏi Cuốn)
Yield: 10 Servings
For the rolls:
1/2 package rice vermicelli noodles
10 sheets large round rice paper
1 package cooked tofu, sliced
8 medium shrimp, cooked, de-veined and sliced in half
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 cucumber, sliced
sprigs of cilantro
1 T soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp peanut butter
1 T sugar
1-2 T hot water
1 tsp chili oil
sesame seeds (optional)
Cook the vermicelli noodles according to the package. Rinse and drain the noodles. Set aside.
Add the eggs to a large bowl and scramble with a fork or chopsticks. Heat a frying pan over medium high heat and add 1 T of oil. Pour enough egg into the pan to make a thin omelette. Cook for 1-2 minutes and flip. Cook for another minute. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the rest of the egg. Let cool. Roll the egg up and cut into thin strips. Set aside.
In a large pot, boil about 6 cups of water. Have a large heat-safe shallow dish ready. Carefully pour the boiling water into the shallow dish.
Take a sheet of rice paper and quickly dip it into the hot water. Be careful not to burn your hands.
Place the softened rice paper onto a clean plate.
Place the fillings of your choice on the bottom 3rd of the paper and fold up. Next, fold in the sides, and then roll it up. Repeat with the remaining.
Make the sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl and stirring well. If it’s too thick, add a little more hot water to loosen. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Serve immediately. Can be stored in the refrigerator, but prior to serving, take it out a little earlier so the rice paper won’t be too hard.