Posted by: adventuressetravels | November 9, 2012

Do-it-yourself Summer Rolls

Do-it-yourself summer rolls are one of the most interactive meals in Vietnam, and in my book that makes them fun.  Like Mexican fajitas, the meal comes separately and it is up to the diner to assemble them.

The first time I tried these delights was in a huge dining hall in Da Nang, Vietnam.  With long tables and benches the warmly-lit room could easily have been converted into a school lunch room.  The atmosphere was completely different though.  People laughed and joked while servers brought plate after plate of items to the tables.  Ai and My, my Vietnamese friends ordered for us and soon the food started to arrive.

First came a plate piled high with hard plastic-like translucent rice wraps followed shortly by a plate of fresh bean sprouts and greens.  The waitress whisked away to return momentarily with a plate of cold  bean thread which she set between a bowl of dipping sauce and a bowl of warm water.  Finally she set a plate of golden fried mini shrimp pancakes which had been folded into taco form. I watched carefully as the girls taught me how to make my own summer rolls.

Wetting the rice paper with warm water is the first step, leaving a dry strip for the filling.  Next arrange bean sprouts, greens, the bean thread and shrimp.  Finally one of the fried pancakes was placed on top of the pile of filling, and then fold the wrap over everything.  Finally press the ingredients together and roll the whole mess into a nice neat roll.  My rolls weren’t nearly as expert as the other girls, but the rolls held their form.  This was one thing I would happily practice.

Happily this type of treat is found throughout Southern Vietnam, though I never found it in the North.  It is also diverse; sometimes the wraps are served with whole grilled fish which you break up with chopsticks to make spring roll filling, rather than the shrimp.  However the summer rolls are served they are always delicious and if you’re lucky there are many opportunities to practice your summer roll skill.  Always provided the people at the restaurant will let you make your own, that is.  Though it can be fun having a waitress make your rolls for you at the table too.  Still, making the rolls with your friends is absolutely fantastic and a delightful delicious fun-filled dinner.


  1. Why are they called “summer” rolls? Any way, sounds like my style.

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