Vietnamese cuisine is renowned for its fresh and flavorful dishes, and one of the most beloved food items among the Vietnamese people is the humble roll. Rolls are a staple food in Vietnam and are enjoyed as snacks, appetizers, or main courses. These rolls come in a wide variety of flavors, textures, and fillings, making them an exciting and versatile culinary experience. In this article, we will explore some of the most popular Vietnamese rolls, including their ingredients, preparation, and cultural significance.
- 1. Goi cuon – Fresh Spring Rolls
- 2. Cha gio – Fried Spring Rolls
- 3. Banh Trang Cuon Thit Heo – Rice Paper Rolls with Pork
- 4. Pho Cuon – Pho Rolls
- 5. Nem Nuong – Vietnamese Grilled Pork Sausage
- 6. Bo Cuon La Lot – Grilled Beef in Wild Betel Leaves
- 7. Bi Cuon – Shredded Pork Skin Rolls
- 8. Banh Uot Cuon – Steamed Cake Rolls
- 9. Bo Bia – Popiah
- 10. Chao Tom – Grilled Shrimp Paste Rolls
1. Goi cuon – Fresh Spring Rolls
Goi cuon, or fresh spring rolls, are perhaps the most well-known Vietnamese rolls, thanks to their popularity around the world. These rolls consist of a transparent rice paper wrapper filled with cooked shrimp or pork, vermicelli noodles, and a selection of fresh greens such as lettuce, mint, beansprouts, and cucumber slices. The beauty of these rolls lies in their simplicity, with each ingredient contributing to the overall flavor and texture.
Fresh spring rolls are a common snack sold by street vendors in Saigon and are a traditional appetizer in many parts of the country. The dipping sauce used for these rolls comes in two basic versions: sour and sweet garlic chili fish sauce, or a mixture of hoisin and peanut sauce. This dipping sauce provides the perfect balance of sweetness and nuttiness, complementing the delicious flavor of the grilled pork and prawns and the freshness of the greens. Vegans can also enjoy a variation of these rolls with tofu and mushroom filling.
2. Cha gio – Fried Spring Rolls
Fried spring rolls are the perfect complement to fresh spring rolls and are known worldwide as an iconic Vietnamese dish. These rolls consist of a filling wrapped in a clear rice paper wrapper and then deep-fried until golden and crispy. The filling can vary depending on the region but typically includes ground pork, vegetables, wood ear mushrooms, and glass noodles. The rolls are often served with lettuce and herbs and a dipping sauce made of fish sauce and sugar.
Fried spring rolls are also known as nem ran in Hanoi, and each family has their own customized recipe. These rolls are crispy and savory and provide a contrasting texture to fresh spring rolls. Fried spring rolls are perfect for those who crave a more substantial and indulgent snack or appetizer.
3. Banh Trang Cuon Thit Heo – Rice Paper Rolls with Pork
Banh trang cuon thit heo is a specialty dish from Da Nang that consists of big slices of boiled or roast pork, vegetables such as lettuce, cucumber slices, Thai basil, banana blossoms, mint, and coriander wrapped in fresh banh pho and rice paper. This dish requires patience and effort, as diners have to make their own rolls by putting the rice paper wrapper on top of the rice noodle sheets, adding a thin slice of pork and other greens, and then rolling it up into a complete roll.
What sets this dish apart from other rolls is the dipping sauce called mam nem or fermented fish sauce. The sauce is made of fermented anchovies, sugar, Thai chili pepper, garlic, lemongrass, sugar, and crushed pineapples, providing an irresistible fishy and sour flavor. Banh trang cuon thit heo is a delicious and healthy dish that is perfect for those looking for a more substantial meal.
4. Pho Cuon – Pho Rolls
Pho cuon is a lesser-known roll in Vietnam but is quickly gaining popularity among foodies worldwide. This roll consists of beef pho noodles and slices of beef, wrapped in a thin rice paper wrapper. The rolls are usually served with lettuce, mint, and a peanut dipping sauce that adds a creamy and nutty flavor to the dish.
Pho cuon is a unique spin on the traditional Vietnamese beef noodle soup, pho, and is believed to have originated from Hanoi. The soft and chewy texture of the beef and noodles, combined with the refreshing crispness of the lettuce and herbs, creates a perfect balance of flavors and textures.
5. Nem Nuong – Vietnamese Grilled Pork Sausage
Nem nuong, or grilled pork sausage, is a popular dish in Vietnam that is often enjoyed in roll form. The rolls are made by wrapping the grilled pork sausage in rice paper and adding fresh lettuce, herbs, and a dipping sauce made of fish sauce, sugar, garlic, and chili.
The grilled pork sausage is the star of the dish, providing a smoky and savory flavor that complements the freshness of the herbs and the sweetness of the dipping sauce. Nem nuong is a beloved street food in Vietnam and is often served with rice noodles, pickled vegetables, and crispy spring rolls.
6. Bo Cuon La Lot – Grilled Beef in Wild Betel Leaves
Bo cuon la lot, or grilled beef in wild betel leaves, is a traditional Vietnamese dish that is often enjoyed as a roll. The dish consists of ground beef mixed with garlic, lemongrass, and other spices, wrapped in wild betel leaves, and grilled to perfection.
The rolls are usually served with rice noodles, fresh herbs, and a dipping sauce made of fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, and chili. The betel leaves give the dish a unique and earthy flavor, while the grilled beef provides a smoky and savory taste that is irresistible.
7. Bi Cuon – Shredded Pork Skin Rolls
Bi cuon, or shredded pork skin rolls, is a Vietnamese roll that may not sound appetizing at first, but it’s a delicious and unique dish that is worth trying. The rolls consist of shredded pork skin, lettuce, herbs, and a dipping sauce made of fish sauce, sugar, garlic, and chili.
The pork skin is boiled, then shredded into thin strips, and seasoned with fish sauce, sugar, and spices. The rolls have a chewy and slightly crunchy texture, and the pork skin adds a unique flavor to the dish that is both savory and slightly sweet.
8. Banh Uot Cuon – Steamed Cake Rolls
Banh uot cuon, or steamed cake rolls, are a type of roll that is made by wrapping steamed rice cakes around a variety of fillings. The most common fillings include grilled pork, shrimp, or beef, along with lettuce, herbs, and a dipping sauce made of fish sauce, sugar, and chili.
The steamed rice cakes have a soft and slightly chewy texture that complements the filling perfectly. Banh uot cuon is a popular dish in Vietnam and is often enjoyed as a snack or a light meal.
9. Bo Bia – Popiah
Bo bia, also known as popiah, is a popular street food in Vietnam that originated from the Chinese dish of the same name. This dish consists of a soft and thin rice paper wrapper filled with julienned vegetables such as jicama, carrots, and cucumbers, along with Chinese sausage, scrambled eggs, and fresh herbs such as mint and cilantro. The filling is then wrapped up and cut into bite-sized pieces, and served with a dipping sauce made of hoisin, peanut butter, and chili oil.
Bo bia is a popular snack in Saigon, where it is commonly sold by street vendors in the evenings. This dish is particularly popular during the Lunar New Year celebrations, where it is often served as part of the traditional feast. Bo bia is a refreshing and healthy snack, perfect for those looking for a lighter option that still packs a punch of flavor.
10. Chao Tom – Grilled Shrimp Paste Rolls
Chao tom is a specialty dish from Hue, a city in central Vietnam, and is known for its unique flavor and texture. This dish consists of a mixture of ground shrimp paste, garlic, sugar, and fish sauce, which is then wrapped around a sugarcane stick and grilled until golden brown. The sugarcane stick is removed before serving, leaving behind a delicious and aromatic roll that is perfect for dipping in a sweet and sour fish sauce.
Chao tom is a popular appetizer in Vietnam and is often served at special occasions such as weddings and banquets. This dish requires a bit of skill to make, but the end result is well worth the effort. Chao tom has a distinctive taste and texture, with a slight sweetness from the sugarcane and a satisfying chewiness from the shrimp paste.
In conclusion, Vietnamese rolls are a delicious and versatile dish that showcases the fresh and flavorful ingredients that Vietnamese cuisine is known for. From the iconic fresh spring rolls to the more unique chao tom, there is a Vietnamese roll to suit every taste and preference. Whether enjoyed as a snack, appetizer, or main course, Vietnamese rolls are sure to tantalize the taste buds and leave diners craving for more.