Gỏi cuốn – that’s how the Vietnamese call this fresh, light snack. In a nutshell: It’s “a salad packed into an edible container”. Unlike the fried version, these so called “summer rolls” are only wrapped in soaked rice paper, usually filled with rice noodles, thai basil, shrimp, soy bean sprouts and lettuce.
I love them as an appetiser when I eat in a Vietnamese restaurant, but they most often contain some form of animal products. So, I experimented a bit and created this vegan option, which is generally a bit of a variation of the original recipe. I went crazy, and so should you – playing with the ingredients is one of the fun parts of making summer rolls. Also when it comes to the dipping sauces – I prefer the classic hoisin sauce which is some form of thick, sweet brown sauce which goes extremely well with the rolls. But anything goes: Sriracha sauce or sweet chili sauce are also not too bad!
The only downside: Rolling those little beauties needs a bit of practice and is quite a time consuming activity. I recommend turning this burden into a pleasure by making the rolling session part of the dinner: arrange all ingredients on the table and then go DIY. I did this quite often with my friends in Vienna and we even made a ton of these for a NYE while drinking champagne and waiting for the New Year to arrive. Just perfect.
So, tackle the roll – you will be rewarded with the perfect light meal!
Stuff you need:
- 1 pkg. rice papers (I prefer the big ones as they are easier to roll)
- 1 pkg. rice noodles (not glass noodles!)
- 1 big handful of herbs (thai basil, thai mint, coriander, wasabi sprouts,.. whatever tickles your fancy)
- 1 small cucumber
- 1 small lettuce
- 200 grammes shiitake mushrooms
- 1 pkg. soy bean sprouts
- Tofu (puff, smoked, fried, – whatever you like. Just nothing too soft like silk/egg tofu)
- 2-3 limes
- Soy sauce
- 1 tbs sugar
- Hoisin sauce for seasoning
- Dipping sauces (hoisin, sweet chili,…)
Ok, there will be quite a bit of preparation going on. First, cook the noodles 3 minutes), strain and rinse with cold water. After this, wash all of the veggies and cut the cucumber and tofu (in finger shaped pieces) and chop the salad. Cut the mushrooms in half. Heat up a pan, pour some oil in and fry the mushrooms on high heat. Add the 2 tbs of soy sauce and 1 tbs sugar so they are slightly caramelised, stir and turn off the heat.
So now you’re done with your mise-en-place.Pour a few tablespoons of hoisin sauce in a small bowl and get started. Grab a big pot filled with cold water in which you can soak your rice paper sheets. Secret trick: I found out that the easiest way to roll is to use two layers of rice paper. Soak them for a few minutes, slightly drip them off and put them on a plate. If you wanna go fancy you can add a few pieces of the herbs in between the layers – looks pretty amazing afterwards. Put some hoisin sauce, some bean sprouts, lettuce, a piece of cucumber and tofu as well as some noodles in the center. Sprinkle a few drops of lime juice on top, then add the herbs if you have not done that already. Now comes the tricky part: turn the edges on the the short sides, then, firmly grab a “long side” and try to roll it until, well, it looks like a roll. Believe me, it’s a bit hard in the beginning and your first rolls will be ugly bastards but you’ll get better, I promise!
Once you’ve finished all of your summer rolls, you can arrange them nicely with the sauce in the center. Enjoy!