Recipe: Sai Gon Summer Rolls

By Leluu

These are great. I don’t know a person who doesn’t love them. They are eaten fresh. They do not need to be fried or cooked in anyway. The prawns and the pork inside is poached beforehand. Its the Vietnamese answer to a sandwich but much healthier.

You can add whatever you like to these rolls and make them your own. In Vietnam, each region has a different version. This is the typical Sai Gon roll:

Rice Paper – (Brand with Green Bamboo)
Vermicelli – (Pour boiling water over and soak for about 5 – 10 mins, then drain)
Cooked Prawns
Poached Pork Belly (or other cuts of pork, thinly sliced)
Cockscombe Mint
Vietnamese Chives (not shown in picture)

Cockscombe Mint

This is the traditional Sai Gon version. The mints and herbs in this roll turns the whole thing into some delicious delight of flavour. Fresh notes hitting all over your mouth along with the textures of pork and prawns.

These are very easy to do, you may need to do a couple of wrong ones and then its like riding a bicycle.

Dip the rice paper into some warm water, make sure all areas are moist. Lay the paper on a flat surface and at the bottom centre of the paper, line your prawns, some lettuce leaves, noodles, pork and all the herbs. Make sure you layer them just so when you bite into it you can see the different layers but this doesn’t really matter if its just for yourself and you’re not trying to impress anyone.

Fold the sides in, then turn the bottom flap up to cover the ingredients. As tightly as possible, roll the whole thing up.

TIP: Put a leaf or more at the top of the paper, after you have rolled it, it will be entirely visible on the roll. Makes it look very appealing.

For Dipping Sauce
Garlic & Chilli – Finely chopped
Hoi Sin Sauce
White Wine or Cider Vinegar

Slightly brown off the garlic and chilli in a little oil in a frying pan.
Pour in the desired amount of hoi sin sauce and bring to a gentle boil. Add a splash of vinegar and a few spoons of sugar. Taste the mixture, add more vinegar if you need more sour, if too sour, add more sugar and vice versa.
If its too rich, add a little water. If desired, you can add a little fish sauce.

Pour the sauce onto dipping bowls and sprinkle crushed peanuts on top.

Now hold your summer roll and dip it into the bowl and enjoy them – they are amazing. You can use left overs in them, such as steamed fish, chicken or anything you like. Just make sure you always have a lot of herbs in them as well.

TIP: If you are preparing these in advance, keep them in a air tight container otherwise they will dry out. You can also wrap them in cling film.

TIP: Don’t get the paper too wet, ie leaving them soaking in water, this will make them break easily. Just dip the paper in water. Don’t leave it in there.

  • Lovely. Whenever I make Vietnamese rolls at restaurants on the Kingsland road I always end up with a bit of a mess. I think it’s probably because I’m greedy and put too much in – your explanation is really helpful and methodical, Uyen, so I’ll give these a go and try not to be too greedy! Ed

  • Yours are fantastic! Lots of restaurants fill theirs with too many rice noodles and then it doesn’t taste of much.

  • This is a great post, not least because it actually shows how to roll the rolls. I was trying to explain to someone on Twitter today, and it would have been so much easier just to show them these pics.

    I like all the ingredients you use, I tend to slice the prawns lengthways so they sit a little flatter, but otherwise do pretty much the same thing. Although I tend to use whatever I have to hand so I bet mine aren’t as zingily fresh and tasty as yours 😉

    One thing I discovered is that storing them in the fridge on a damp piece of kitchen towel (in an airtight container) helps keep the skins fresh and moist.

  • A friend of mine told me the wrappers on summer rolls reminded her too much of condoms (!!!)

    I love summer rolls though, especially when you get the hang of rolling them properly. A local vietnamese place in Deptford fill theirs with pork skin – delicious.

  • @Ed Rocket & Squash
    you can actually really stuff this up – as long as you roll it tightly you’ll be fine. Just make more then you can be greedy x

    @Su-Lin I had some with beansprouts in Vietnam as a filler – I was not too pleased.

    @The Grubworm these are the traditional Saigon ingredients, I couldn’t invent such an amazing combination.

    @Lizzie yes, sometimes I put the shredded pork skins in too, thats the Phan Thiet way, its really lovely instead of vermicelli. But I add five spice and char sui pork intoo which changes the flavour of Saigon rolls, so I use other ingredients if I were to use prok skin. x PS your friend and the condom, ha ha, not sure what to say xxx : )

  • I still haven’t tried to make them, they are my favourite dish EVER!

  • They look great. Great tips on keeping them fresh. I’ve always just made them and eaten them straight away. Now I can make more and eat some at work …

  • @Ute Hungry In London
    Next time I am seeing you, I am giving you all the ingredients so you are not hungry in Wales

    yay! I can’t resist them when I make them. make sure you have lots of dipping sauce too so you can eat them – its the sauce that makes ALL the difference. Enjoy lunch times xxx

  • Looks delicious! I’ve printed your recipe and will try to hunt down perilla and Vietnamese chives and Vietnamese mint. Can I find these in London’s China Town?