These Vietnamese Summer Rolls, or fresh spring rolls, are filled with all the healthy stuff such as mango, avocado, carrot and of course a little rice noodles to get a little more authentic Vietnamese flavor and texture. They are naturally vegan and absolutely great with a super easy peanut dipping sauce!
When I was in Vietnam and Thailand, I was swimming in all the things I love the most: Food with flavor. Summer rolls were some of these, along with mango sticky rice of course. We watched as a man rolled the summer rolls fresh at our table and served them to us. Absolutely delish!
I wanted to create my own, with my favorite flavors when I got home. So here I am, only 3 years later. 🙂 Other Thai and Vietnamese inspired dishes I recommend are Thai lemongrass noodle soup (I always pick the dish with lemongrass from a menu!), curry coconut chicken satay, Thai chicken noodle soup and curry coconut carrot soup.
What's the difference between egg rolls, spring rolls and summer rolls?
Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably, but there are some variations between spring rolls, egg rolls and summer rolls:
- Spring rolls: originally from China, these are rolled in a paper thin wrapper made from flour and water, and then fried until crispy. The most common fillings are some sort of pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and cabbage. Served with various dipping sauces, like vinegar based, plum sauce, or a sweet and sour sauce (my favorite!).
- Egg rolls: Eggs rolls are a kind of spring rolls invented in the US. The difference is that the wrapper batter (fun to say) also contains eggs. The eggs result in the wrapper becoming thicker and almost doughy. The egg rolls are often bumpy in appearance, while spring rolls are smooth. Usually filled with a lot of cabbage and some pork.
- Summer rolls: originally from Vietnam. The summer rolls are uncooked, they are fresh and more like a salad than an indulgent treat. Delicious fresh vegetables, and sometimes cooked shrimp, chicken or beef, a lot of herbs and vermicelli (rice) noodles. The most common sauces for summer rolls are peanut dipping sauce, a hoisin sauce or just plain Sriracha!
Honestly, I love all these for very different reasons. Today, we are rocking the healthier summer rolls!
Can you make them ahead? How long can you keep them?
I wouldn't classify summer rolls as a make ahead dish. You can make them 2 hours prior to eating, but that hardly constitutes as make ahead in my book. Place them in one layer, preferably not touching each other, and place a wet dish towel on top. You may need to re-soak the towel. Keep out of the sun!
If you really want to make them a day or two in advance, wrap each summer roll tightly in plastic wrap. They will dry out in the refrigerator, but you can spray them with water before serving to moisten them up! Fair warning that fresh summer rolls are always better, but these will be delicious too.
Let them stand in room temperature for 30 minutes prior to eating to bring out all the delicious fresh flavors. Click here to read more about keeping summer rolls fresh.
The peanut dipping sauce, however, is great for make ahead.
How do you eat summer rolls?
As I mentioned above, summer rolls are eaten uncooked. You can have cooked meat inside, like shrimp, pork, fish or chicken, but they are also great as a naturally vegan dish. Fill them with all the fresh produce you like, and don't forget the herbs.
Rice vermicelli noodles also add a great and a little more authentic Vietnamese flavor and texture to the rolls. Vermicelli noodles are rice noodles made from ground rice, making them gluten-free, and is usually used in Asian cooking (I love them in this Thai lemongrass soup!).
But let's be honest, we are here because of the dipping sauce. Summer rolls are perfect to dip in all sorts of sauces. My very favorite is this peanut dipping sauce. It is super easy to make, and tastes of Vietnam with delicious peanut, hoisin and lots of other delicious flavors. The dipping sauce can be made 4 days in advance. Just keep it covered in the fridge.
How do I make my summer rolls not sticky?
Yes, they are notoriously sticky due to the rice paper wrapper. A lot of recipes call for soaking the wrappers in warm water, but instead, let them soak in cold water. It doesn't take much longer at all. Keeping your work surface wet, also helps to avoid the rolls to stick to your cutting board, but they will still be a sticky piece of action nonetheless.
I sometimes also brush them in a little oil before placing them together on a plate. They will of course be more oily (duh), so if you don't like that, I recommend just keeping your summer rolls sticky, but apart from each other.
Other Summer Roll Tips
Another summer roll tip is to use lettuce to wrap the fillings in before wrapping the lettuce in rice paper. They will now be easier to roll and to eat. However, this makes the rolls less pretty (who wants to look at a blob of lettuce?). So I don't do this. Also, I use spinach, which isn't particularly wrapping friendly.
To make a tighter wrap, you can make two stations on your wrapper. More to the left you can place half of your filling, and more to the right (with space in between the left and right fillings), add the other half. Then roll. You will now get a smooth, tight wrap.
You should also always have everything ready prepped; vegetables cut into thin strips, noodles should have been soaked and (if using) meat should be already cooked, before starting to soak the rice wrappers.
Recipe for these Mango Summer Rolls
You can read the full instructions in the recipe card below. Here I will provide just a summary with step-by-step pictures for an easier visualization of the process!
- Prepare all the vegetables. Cut into thin strips. Soak rice noodles according to package.
- Soak the rice wrapper in cold water until soft, about 3 seconds.
- Carefully take the wrapper out of the water and place on a wet working surface.
- Fill with prepared vegetables in one corner, with clear edges around. Squeeze lime juice over.
- Take the tip from where you put the vegetables, over the vegetables (to roll like a burrito).
- (6.-8.) Take the sides in towards the middle and roll to make it tight.
Did you like this recipe? Here's more fresh summer food for you:
- Watermelon salad with feta and mint
- Chicken Satay with Mango Cucumber Salad and Peanut Sauce(practically the same sauce so great for leftovers!)
- Creamy Cold Pasta Salad with Chorizo(awesome for picnics)
- Grilled Harissa Chicken Salad
- Homemade Roasted Tomato Soup
- Korean Beef Bulgogi
- Strawberry Arugula Summer Salad
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