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Vietnamese Salad Rolls with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce

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Everyone seems to love Vietnamese Salad Rolls with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce. I too love these crunchy salad rolls bursting with the flavour of fresh herbs and vegetables that are all naturally gluten free.

At a recent hands-on cooking class featuring rice noodles students made these salad rolls. Everyone finds them a bit of a challenge at first but once they roll up a few and figure out how much filling to use they come together easily. You might want to eat the first few you make in case they don’t look as good as you would like them to.

I suggest you make them for yourself a few times before you serve them to friends. This way you will be reminded how important the prep is and will get the hang of working with rice paper. Then you can even invite your friends to roll them up with you, a great party activity!

Prep for making Vietnamese Salad Rolls

I like to prepare all the ingredients including the nuoc cham sauce the day before I make and serve my salad rolls to company. This way assembling them isn’t too much work. I line up all the containers on the counter; soft rice vermicelli, grated carrot, chopped lettuce, cooked shrimp and fresh herbs. Then I get a large bowl with hot water for soaking the rice paper (I know exactly which bowl to use for this purpose) and my little assembly line is ready.

Filling and Sauce for Vietnamese Salad Rolls

You can vary the fillings to suit your taste. Try chopped red or yellow peppers, finely julienned jicama sticks or cucumber, juicy mango, bean sprouts and any protein like chicken, pork or salmon.

You can also vary the dipping sauces. My favourite is the traditional pungent nuoc cham dipping sauce made with fish sauce. You could also try gluten free hoisin sauce or homemade peanut sauce.

Rice paper wrappers for Vietnamese Salad Rolls

Rice paper wrappers are made from a mixture of rice flour, water and salt then rolled and dried into very brittle, thin shapes. The round papers are used for salad rolls and spring rolls, while the triangular ones are traditionally used at the table to wrap grilled foods. The wrappers are often sold in hard plastic containers and should be stored flat in the container or an air tight plastic bag. If left open they will curl up and loose their shape.

To use them soften sheets one at a time in hot water. Slip the wrapper into the water for a few seconds until it becomes flexible enough to work with. Place the wrapper on the counter or a cutting board and add a small amount of filling on the bottom third of the wrapper. Fold the bottom up to cover the filling. Then fold the two sides into the middle. Now roll the filling up until you have a small sausage shape roll.

I roll up about 12 or 24 salad rolls at a time depending on the occasion. Place them in a single layer on a tray and cover with plastic wrap. They can be stored in the fridge for up to 8 hours before serving.

Serving Vietnamese Salad Rolls

Salad rolls can be served whole or cut in half. You can garnish your plates or platter with the fresh herbs that you used in the filling. When I want an idea for a different presentation I just type the name of my recipe into the Google Images search bar and voila, more ideas than I have time to look at. I hope you’ll give them a try!


rice paper wrappers
cooked shrimp, halved horizontally (3 halves per salad roll)
fine rice noodles
lettuce, finely shredded
carrot, finely shredded
cilantro, Thai basil and/or mint leaves
peanuts, chopped
½ tsp crushed chiles
½ Tbsp vinegar
½ cup fish sauce
¼ cup lime juice
¾ cup warm water
½ small carrot, shredded
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup sugar


Soak rice noodles in a large bowl of warm water for about 15 minutes. Drain completely and lay on a kitchen towel to dry thoroughly.
Combine all ingredients in a large measuring cup. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
Prepare all other ingredients before making the salad rolls.
Use a large, flat bowl that is larger than the size of the rice paper wrappers. Fill the bowl with very hot tap water. Place one rice paper wrapper in the bowl and push it under the water. Let it soak for about 10 seconds to soften. Take it out of the water and place it on the counter. Replace the water in the dish as needed, it must be quite warm to soften the wrappers.
Place 3 shrimp halves at the bottom third of the wrapper. Top with a small sausage shaped pile of noodles. Top with a small amount of carrot, lettuce, herbs and peanuts. Whatever you place on the wrapper first is what will show through the finished salad roll. Vary the look by starting with herbs.
Fold the bottom of the wrapper up over the filling. Next fold over each side of the wrapper. Now hold the filling and roll it up keeping it as tight as possible. Place salad rolls in a single layer on a plate covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Continue making salad rolls and covering them up as you go. If not serving immediately, keep the salad rolls tightly covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for 4-6 hours.
Serve them whole or cut on a diagonal with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce or peanut sauce.


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