Vietnamese summerrolls – first timers guide

This weekend we tried a new recepie with a friend couple of ours: Vietnamese summerrolls, also known as nem rolls, spring rolls or like they call them in Vietnam, Goi cuôn.

I have tried this dish earlier in some street food kitchens on #restaurantday or the Arabia streetparty – one of those trendy neighbourhood blocos in Helsinki.


Our friend couple had made summerrolls earlier a couple of times, so they knew some really nice sauce recepies and wanted to civilize us aswell. The pictures in this post aren’t at their best, because I was concentrating on the company, not photographing, but still wanted to take some pics to memorise this dish better.


It’s an easy dish to prepare: just choping, maybe frying some meat and just mixing the incredients for the delicious sauces it deserves!

We prepared two sauces: the traditional chili-garlic sauce and peanutbutter sauce. In addition, I also used some Thai chilisauce from the supermarket in my rolls. The nem rolls might be a little lightly seasoned otherwise, but you can alter the level of hotness and flawours with the sauces. Traditionnally every eater has one’s own dip sauce in a tiny bowl. Now that we only made one bowl of each sauce for common use, it made the dipping a little harder.

The rolls are made inside super thin rice paper that could be found fro good grosery stores and supermarkets atleast in Finland. If not, try the Asian supermarkets or etno food markets.


What to put inside the rolls?

Traditionally nem rolls consist of rice paper, rice noodles (vermicelli), pork or shrimps and fresh vegetables.

In our rolls we put inside:

  • rice noodle
  • chicken (maybe not the best option)
  • chili shrimps
  • thinly sliced sticks of carrot and cucumber
  • sliced avocado
  • ca 3 cm long cuts of chives
  • baby spinache

As a salad it is recommended to use something little more tastier version than regular iceberg salad: spinache, romaine etc… Other incredients that go nicely in the rolls:

  • radish in thin slices
  • bean sprouts
  • spring onion
  • fresh herbs like coriander, mint, thai basil
  • different kids of shrimps
  • pork
  • roasted peanuts
  • minced meat?
  • fried egg

20150606_215629So then you just chop the ingredients in thin slices (so that they nicely fit into the roll) and it’s nearly ready!

Mix up the following ingredients to prepare the sauces (home-made sauces are obviously the best):

Traditional sauce

  • 1 clove of garlic (finely sliced)
  • fresh chili according to taste (finely sliced)
  • 1/2 lime’s juice
  • 1 tblsp sugar
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tblsp vietnamese fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 1 dl water


Peanutbutter sauce

  • 4 tblsp peanutbutter (not sugarred)
  • 2 tblsp hoi sin sauce
  • ca 2 tblsp sugar
  • 1 dl water

So FINALLY it was all prepared and it was time to hit the table! The rice paper tortillas are softened in a plate filled with water. But as we noticed, if you prepare many at a time, one has to be really carefull not to break the rice paper. It’s terribly thin and fragile. Also notice that if the rice papers stay in water they become too soft for rolling. Best result came by watching the rice paper while it softens and take it out of the water immediately. Later, a vietnamese friend also gave tip to use the cutting board for the rolling part since it ’swallows’ less of that sticky water than a plate.

How to succeed:

Fill in the ingredients starting from the other half of the rice paper tortilla, not from the center (like I did first) and not too close the edge. After folding the roll once, you flip the empty sides of the roll into the middle and then roll again. The result should be beautifully packed little roll pouche.

When filling in the rolls, you should traditionnally keep in mind also the looks of the roll… starting from the beautiful shaped shrimps for example, so that they show out the best from inside of the roll… Yup, or then it’s just good to try succeeding in making one whole roll that doesn’t break…20150607_223235

It was all easier said than done. My mental health was on it’s verge time after time while preparing my so-called rolls. When I just thought I had succeeded to roll a beautiful little baby roll, the rice paper scratched and the roll broke down in my fingers… the problem was obviously the too much softened paper roll.

Last but for sure not least (it’s time to eat!!!) just dip’em and enjoy with a glass of riesling, gewürtsraminer or other lightly sweet, not too dry white wine! (Or eat them with knife and fork, if needed, it’s delicious anyways!)

My hub’s roll and mine… guess which one is which! Well at first, mine looked like that too. At times at least…

One of my rolls that suceeded nicely:

The fresh ingredients I had in my summer roll. In the bowl traditional chili-garlic sauce for nem rolls.



My 2 month summer vacation has begun! What a feeling!

In the picture the loveliest things from my second summer vacation day:

syreenitThis morning I woke up to the lovely scent of lilacs that I picked on my night table the day before. I just love lilacs like I love the mangolias, apple flowers and all other scenting spring trees. This time of year is just perfect! Everywhere is green, alive and blooming, and the lovely scent of early summer filling the air!

Then making some breaky and coffee… I was drinking my morning coffee from my new moomin mug (by Arabia), that I just couldn’t stop myself ordering from Sweden from Royal Design, since it’s only sold there for the campaign Håll Sverige Rent… The mugs were sold out so I had to wait the mug to arrive for several months…  I’ve promised myself earlier not to buy anymore moominmugs unless it’s a desperate situation, well I guess this was.

My perfect vacation athmosphere was fullfilled with the pile of books I’m planning to read this summer… All in Finnish for the time. Beside these ones in the picture, I have several books in my bookshelf just waiting to be read. Reading books for my own fun is something I do way too rarely these days. As a kid and as a teenager I used to read all the time, but studying and working has lowened my enthousiasm and ability to concentrate on reading. Sad so, the holidays are perfect time for freetime reading aswell!

In this day’s less lovely programme is doing some cleaning-up and changing the curtains, but somehow it doesn’t feel as avoidable and boring as it usually does…

The scent of lilac is just dazzling