Hailing from Vietnamese cuisine, salad rolls can include a variety of fillings and make for a delicious and healthy appetizer or light meal. This recipe is more a of a guide–the exact amounts aren’t important, and you can try different filling combinations of your own. I’ve included the core ingredients and a suggested set of additional flavors to get you started, along with a recipe for peanut dipping sauce. If I’m being honest, I love peanut sauce so much that the rolls themselves are sometimes more of a vehicle…
Makes 6 salad rolls
- 1/4 cup natural peanut butter (unsweetened)
- 2 tbsp honey (preferably) or other sweetener such as sugar or agave
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil (optional)
- Red chili flakes to taste
- 6-12 bánh tráng (rice paper wrappers, in the Asian foods section of many grocery stores, or online)
- A couple handfuls of lettuce (I usually use romaine, but you can use another type.
- A handful of vermicelli rice noodles
Suggested Ingredients (I like to pick a few veg/fruit, 1 protein, and 1 herb)
- Half a cucumber, cut into spears
- A small carrot, shredded or julienned
- Half a ripe mango, sliced
- A handful of mung bean sprouts
- Half an avocado, sliced
- 6 oz firm tofu (about half a package, in the US), drained and sliced
- 6 oz smoked or baked tofu, sliced
- 6 oz tempeh, sliced
- 12 precooked shrimp, peeled
- 4 oz barbeque pork, thinly sliced
- A small bunch of Thai basil, de-stemmed
- A small bunch of cilantro, de-stemmed
To make the peanut sauce:
Measure peanut butter into a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium power for a few seconds at a time until softened–do not cook it beyond just being softened as it will change the flavor and texture. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Set aside. The peanut sauce can be made ahead and will keep for a week in the fridge.
Salad roll prep:
Follow the instructions on the package to cook the vermicelli and set aside.
Wash your chosen fillings vegetables and prepare the vegetables (see suggestions in recipe list). Chop or tear the lettuce into medium pieces and then wash. Set each component aside in a little pile or bowl.
Find a flat dish or pan that is slightly larger than the wrappers you’re using. Put about an inch of boiling hot water into the dish and let sit until cool enough to touch. Have a large plate or cutting board ready next to it.
Salad roll assembly:
One at a time, submerge a wrapper in the dish of water, wetting every part of it. Remove immediately and shake off excess water. Lay it out flat on the cutting board. If desired, for a thicker and sturdier layer of rice wrapper, you can use a double layer.
If using square wrappers (I find these easier to work with), place fillings in a long line a couple inches from one side. If using round ones, place the line more in the middle. Either way, leave a little on either end. Use a large proportion of lettuce and vermicelli and a smaller proportion of the other fillings. Exact amounts don’t matter–it just has to fit when you roll it up. You’ll get a feel for it as you go.
Fold the short edges of the wrapper in over the filling and then, starting at one long edge, pull the edge up over the filling and roll tightly to the other edge, using your fingers to press into the seam and make sure the ends don’t unfold. Take your time and roll as tightly as you can without tearing the rice paper. Your first few might look really messy but you’ll get better (and anyway, they’ll taste the same). The wrapper will stick to itself, helping to keep them sealed once rolled.
Vietnamese salad rolls are best eaten fresh, but leftovers can be kept for a day in the fridge. If making the peanut sauce ahead, allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Note: Unless you’re very good at filling and rolling them tightly, I recommend leaving them whole rather than cutting in half to serve.