When I moved to the Bay Area, the one thing I missed most about living in LA was my mom’s cooking. There is no one better in kitchen in my opinion (and I’m including my grandma in this statement). All my favorite dishes are ones that she used to make for me. Part of the reason I learned how to cook was so I could recreate these recipes for myself. One of these dishes is Vietnamese spring rolls or goi cuon in Vietnamese.
What are Vietnamese spring rolls?
Vietnamese spring rolls are a healthy, refreshing dish that is perfect for summer. Traditionally, Vietnamese spring rolls are made with fresh veggies, shrimp and pork belly (optional) all wrapped in rice paper. However, you can put almost anything in your spring rolls. The best part about this dish is you can make it your own by changing the fillings you use. It is also a cold dish, so it’s perfect for hot summer days!
Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments
- Spring Roll
- Pork belly – Pork belly is the preferred cut of meat for these spring rolls. The fattiness and sweetness of the pork pair really well with the fresh ingredients of the spring roll. You can maybe get away with using pork butt as a leaner option, but it is definitely not the ideal ingredient for this recipe.
- Shrimp – Any type of shrimp should work for this recipe. I would recommend buying medium sizes shrimp because large and small shrimp are harder to wrap.
- Vermicelli Noodles – This dish is traditional made with vermicelli noodles. You can use other types of thin rice noodles, but the texture and taste will not be the same.
- Rice paper – Rice paper can be found in many grocery stores nowadays. There are not substitutions for rice paper.
- Other fillings (lettuce, carrot, cucumber, mint) – These are the other fillings I normally use. You can customize these toppings however you like.
- Hoison Dipping Sauce
- Hoison sauce – Hoison sauce is a very common condiment used in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine. It has a salty and sweet flavor. If you can’t find hoison sauce, I would recommend using my Vietnamese dipping sauce as a good second option for a dipping sauce.
- Garlic – Adds extra flavor to the sauce.
- Peanut butter – I love to use creamy peanut butter, but you can also use chunky peanut butter.
- Water – Cold water works for this recipe. It thins out the sauce and lightens it up because the hoison sauce has an intense flavor.
Making my Vietnamese spring rolls
This is probably my favorite dish to make during the summer because it is so easy to make and utilizes easy cooking techniques. The first step is to boil your pork belly, shrimp, and vermicelli noodles. The pork belly will take the longest so do that first. It needs to boil for an hour. While your pork belly is boiling, boil your vermicelli noodles in a separate pot. After you boil your vermicelli noodles, boil the shrimp in the same pot. After boiling your shrimp, let it cool for ~10 minutes until it is cool enough to handle. Slice them in half. Set the vermicelli noodles and shrimp aside. Next thinly slice your cucumbers and carrots and set aside. At this point, your pork belly should be done. Let it cool for ~10 minutes until it is cool enough to handle. Thinly slice your pork belly and set aside.
Now it’s time to wrap your spring rolls! The hardest part of making spring rolls is wrapping it. Below you will find step-by-step instructions on how to make your own. Keep in mind that this takes a lot of practice, so don’t feel bad if you fail a couple times at first. 🙂
Step 1: Lay the rice paper on a flat plate. Place lettuce, mint, carrots, cucumbers, noodles, and pork belly on one end of the rice paper.
Step 2: Roll it halfway. Make sure to roll it as tight as possible, so it’s easier to dip and eat. Place 3-4 shrimp right in front of your roll. This will allow for the shrimp to appear neatly at the end.
Step 3: Roll over the shrimp as tightly as possible. Tuck in the sides of the roll before completing your last roll.
Making the hoison dipping sauce
The classic dipping sauce for traditional spring rolls is made with hoison sauce, peanut butter, and water. This sauce gives the spring roll a yummy umami flavor that just takes your tastebuds on a journey. This hoison sauce is also so easy to make. Add in the hoison sauce and water to a sauce pan and heat for ~1 minute. Add in the peanut butter. Heat the sauce until it starts to bubble on the sides (about 2-3 minutes) and serve! If hoison sauce is not your thing, you can also use nuoc cham or a peanut sauce.
Tips on how to make the perfect Vietnamese spring rolls
- Prepare the other ingredients while you cook your pork belly – Cooking your pork belly takes about an hour, so utilizing that time to prepare all your other ingredients is the key to getting dinner on the table in a shorter amount of time. While the pork belly is cooking, I like to boil my vermicelli and shrimp, and slice all my vegetables.
- Do not overfill your spring rolls – It is so easy to want to overfill your spring rolls because all the fillings are so yummy, but definitely don’t do that. Rice paper is thin and rips easily, so overfilling your spring rolls will cause the skin to break.
- Customize your fillings – The fillings that I included here are what most Vietnamese families traditionally use, but spring rolls are all about putting what YOU like in them. So don’t be afraid to go rogue and add things you normally don’t find in spring rolls.
Did you make this recipe?
If you made this dish, I would love to see!
Traditional Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Goi Cuon)
Hoison Dipping Sauce
- 1 cup hoison sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tbsp roasted peanuts optional
- 1 lb pork belly
- 1 lb shrimp
- 5 oz vermicelli noodles
- 12 pieces rice paper
- 1 head lettuce
- 1 carrot julienned
- 1 cucumber julienned
- mint to taste
Hoison Dipping Sauce
- Heat oil in a sauce pan.
- Add in the hoison sauce and water. Mix thoroughly and let it simmer at low heat for a minute. The sauce should thicken up. (see picture above for reference)
- Add in the peanut butter and stir until well incorporated.
- Pour it into a bowl and set aside. Top with peanuts right before serving.
- Bring 8 cups of water to a boil and add in the pork belly. Cook the pork belly in boiling water for an hour or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F.
- While the pork belly is cooking, bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a separate pot. Add in the vermicelli noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes. Sample the noodles to make sure they are done. Set aside.
- After you cook the vermicelli noodles, bring 6 cups of water to a boil in the same pot and add in the shrimp. Cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes or until the shrimp turns orange and the meat is orange and white. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes. Slice the shrimp in half.
- Slice all your vegetables at this point. Slice your cucumbers and carrots into thin slices.
- At this point, your pork belly should be done. Once it's done cooking, set it aside to rest for 10 minutes until it is cool enough to handle. After it rests, shave off the skin and then slice it into thin pieces. The pork belly should be as thin as possible and about 1 inch wide. This shape will help you wrap the spring rolls more easily.
- Now you're ready to create the spring rolls. Dip the rice paper in warm water to hydrate it. Lay the rice paper on a flat plate. Place lettuce, mint, carrots, cucumbers, noodles, and pork belly on one end of the rice paper.
- Roll it halfway. Make sure to roll it as tight as possible, so it's easier to dip and eat. Place 3 shrimp right in front of your roll. This will allow for the shrimp to appear neatly at the end.
- Roll over the shrimp as tightly as possible. Tuck in the sides of the roll before completing your last roll.