These traditional Vietnamese rice paper rolls (goi cuon) are filled with fresh prawns, tender pieces of pork, vermicelli noodles and Vietnamese herbs and vegetables. They are a great way to get more vegetables in your diet, and are a fun, interactive dish that can be served at a dinner party.
The first dinner party Steph and I ever hosted was a Vietnamese rice paper roll night! I remember Steph being very relaxed while I was a nervous wreck. Rather than make the rolls ourselves, we chose to lay out all the prepared ingredients then encouraged everyone to make their own rolls with of course a demo from yours truly. And…. it was a success! Our friends were smashing roll after roll. In between rolls people would look around and laugh at all the failed attempts at a simple roll. By the end of it, many belts had to be loosened and recently acquired food babies had to be nursed away!
When to Serve Rice Paper Rolls
Vietnamese rice paper rolls are great for:
- Finger food at a party
- As an entree/starter
- As the main course
We love serving Vietnamese rice paper rolls at dinner parties because absolutely everything can be prepared beforehand. This creates a stress-free environment where you can enjoy the company of your guests without having to worry about the cooking.
How to Serve Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls
There are two main ways to serve rice paper rolls:
- Pre-rolled – this is best if you want your guests to grab something to eat while still being able to move around and drink/talk – e.g. at a cocktail party, bbq etc. It’s also better for guests who may not be as comfortable with rolling their own rolls.
- Ingredients laid out on the table, everyone rolls their own – this is great for casual dinner parties, where you have everyone seated at a table and ready for good food and a good laugh.
What Goes Into A Traditional Vietnamese Rice Paper Roll
The list below are what I typically see served in a Vietnamese rice paper roll:
- Pork – pork belly rashers are best as they have a bit of fat on them.
- Prawns – save time by buying peeled prawns.
- Vermicelli noodles
- Vegetables– lettuce, cucumber, beansprouts, carrot
- Asian Herbs – Thai basil, coriander, garlic chives
The pork, prawns and vermicelli are the main stars here. Beyond this, get as may of the other ingredients as possible. In our recipe we’ve split out what ingredients we see as more optional.
What Sauce to Serve With Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls
I generally serve this dish with the following sauces:
- Hoisin dipping sauce (favourite and included in this recipe)
- Spicy peanut sauce (great alternative and included in the vegan rice paper roll recipe)
- Nuoc mam cham (traditional)
How To Store Rice Paper Rolls
The ingredients for rice paper rolls can all be prepared in advance, however we do recommend rolling them as close as possible to serving time. If you do need to store the assembled rolls:
- Use either baking paper or damp kitchen towels to separate the rolls. Rice paper sticks easily, so if you store the rolls pressed up against each other, or pressed up against a plate/container they may tear as you lift them out.
- Place in an airtight container.
- Refrigerate – especially important for the pork and prawn.
- Remove 30 minutes before serving – let them come to room temperature a bit before eating.
Eat Your Rice Paper Roll the Way YOU Want!
In all honesty, Vietnamese rice paper rolls are one of those foods where you make it however you like it. I personally love a lot of rice noodles in mine which I get ridiculed for since it is the cheapest ingredient out of the lot! So, why don’t you give it a go and find out what makes your ultimate rice paper roll.
You’ll Also Love…
- Budget Pork Rice Paper Rolls with Hoisin Sauce
- Vegan Rice Paper Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
- Deep Fried Crispy Spring Rolls (Cha Gio)
- Vietnamese Crispy Crepes – Banh Xeo
- Banh Tom – Vietnamese Sweet Potato and Prawn Fritters
Traditional Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls – Goi Cuon
- 1.5 L boiling water
- 400 – 500 gm pork belly rashers (substitute with leaner cuts of pork or chicken breast for healthier alternatives)
- 20 – 25 cooked prawns of your choice, halved
- 250 gm dried dongguan rice vermicelli
- 1 head of butter lettuce (or your choice)
- 1 continental cucumber, cut into strips
- 1 bunch Thai basil
- 1 bunch bunch of coriander
- 1 packet rice paper (20+)
- 1 packet bean sprouts
- 1 bunch garlic chives
- 1 bunch mint
- 2 carrots, cut into strips
- 1 can chopped pineapple
Hoisin Dipping Sauce (Personal Favourite)
- 2 cups reserved pork stock (water used to cook pork or just tap water for vegetarian option)
- 1 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/2 tsp palm vinegar or white vinegar
- 1 tbsp water
- 3 tsp cornstarch
Preparing the Filling
- Wash and prep the vegetables and herbs.
- Add plenty of water to a large pot and bring it to the boil.
- Rinse the pork rashers under a tap and add it to the pot of boiling water. Allow to cook for 18 – 20 mins on medium heat.
- While the pork is cooking, peel and devein the cooked prawns. Then cut each prawn in half length ways with a sharp knife. (Note 1)
- After 18 – 20 mins, take the pork out and leave the stock in the pot. Cut one pork rasher in half to check if its done then set aside to rest and cool.
- In a new pot, boil plenty of water and cook the rice vermicelli noodles as directed by the packaging. Once cooked, drain and leave aside to cool. Do not rinse the noodles.
- Once the pork is cool enough to handle, cut into thin slices. Add the pork slices back into the reserve pork stock on a low setting. This will keep the meat warm and moist before serving.
Your Choice of Dipping Sauce
- Pour 2 cups of the pork stock through a strainer and into pot on medium – low heat.
- Add the hoisin and vinegar. Stir through until completely dissolved.
- In a small bowl combine the water and cornstarch. Add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce pot and continue to stir until the sauce starts boiling.
- Check the sauce for taste and consistency. If it needs more flavour, then add more hoisin. If it needs to be thicker, add more cornstarch mixed with water. If its too thick, then add more water.
- Take off the heat and set aside.
Assembly (See also slideshow above)
- In large bowls add half cold water and half boiling water. Soften the rice paper by submerging it for a few seconds in the water. (Note 2)
- Place the noodles towards the bottom of the rice paper.
- Top with the meat. vegetables and herbs.
- Roll the rice paper from the bottom and upwards.
- Once you’ve rolled over the filling, fold in the sides then continue rolling all the way to the top.
- My tip for cutting prawns in half is to have the tail pointing away from the knife and positioned towards your body. Pinch the the two ends of the prawn together and begin cutting the prawn through the backside. Be careful of your fingers as the knife cuts through the tail. Try to use a freshly sharpened medium sized kitchen knife and avoid using any knife with a serrated edge.
- Do not over saturate the rice paper. It will cause the rice paper to wilt too much and lose its elasticity. The rice paper will continue to soften once you take it out of the water.
- If you decide to roll the rice paper rolls for your guests or for a potluck dinner, then use baking paper as the divider. It is very important that you do not let them touch each other or you may find you have created the world’s largest rice paper roll.
- If you want to keep costs down, then omit the prawns and replace with more pork or chicken. This will significantly reduce the overall cost of this dish.