Spring roll is one of those foods that really gets people excited, despite its humble appearance. The Vietnamese version of spring roll is one of the most famous in the culinary world. These scrumptious rolls come in so many variations and can be eaten as snacks, but also appetizers, main meals as well as side dishes.
Two kinds of rolls
There are primarily two kinds of spring rolls in Vietnamese cuisine. One is fresh spring rolls and the other is fried spring rolls.
Fried spring rolls are known as cha gio in southern Vietnam, or nem ran in northern Vietnam. These are delectable snacks but also great accompaniments that can be eaten alongside a bowl of soupy pho or bun cha.
Fresh spring rolls are eaten cold and are known as goi cuon. Interestingly this cold dish is also known as “summer rolls” because it makes for a light and delicious meal on a hot summer day.
Fresh cold rolls
Rice comes into play in this dish, just like so many other Vietnamese dishes. From rice, vermicelli noodles and rice papers are made, both of which are used in the making of fresh spring rolls.
To make fresh spring rolls, the rice papers are quickly soaked in water. A dry flat sheet of paper-thin wafer soon softens into springy, translucent white skin on which fresh ingredients are laid out and then rolled up.
The ingredients that are found in fresh spring rolls include pork slices, sausages, shrimp, beef, fresh vegetables, and herbs as well as cooked rice vermicelli noodles.
Fresh spring rolls are chewy, crunchy and full of flavour. They are light, nutritious and healthy, so flavoursome that you will find yourself reaching for one roll after another. There are many ways to enjoy these spring rolls. You can dip them in sweet hoisin sauce, fragrant peanut sauce, as well as a tangy, salty fish sauce.
Fresh spring rolls are versatile party food where guests can get creative and make their own rolls, using an assortment of ingredients that are readily available. These rolls are also suitable for people with different dietary requirements. Vegetarians can opt for tofu and greens spring rolls, while seafood lovers can pile on the shrimps. Fresh spring rolls can be as authentic as possible, where only common herbs and vegetables from Vietnamese cuisine are used. Or you can go as global as you like, incorporating bell peppers, asparagus, spinach, sprouts, and red cabbage.
Crispy fried spring rolls
Going from a refreshingly healthy end of the spring roll spectrum to the sinful, decadent side, you will find fried spring rolls, also a beloved dish in Vietnamese cooking.
Inside the fried spring rolls are ingredients such as minced pork, chicken, mushrooms, and vegetables like carrots, kohlrabi, bean sprouts, and jicama. These vegetables add a hint of sweetness and crunch to the crispy fried rolls. Seafood like shrimps and crabs can also be used in making cha gio. In northern Vietnam, the locals even use snails in their spring rolls!
Be it cold or hot, chewy or crispy, the allure of spring rolls cannot be denied. Not only can you find this popular street food all over Vietnam, but these are not-to-be-missed dishes in Vietnamese restaurants all around the world too. Paired with ice-cold drinks or beer, served as a picnic food or party snacks, spring rolls are the perfect parcel for great flavours!
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