Vietnamese salad rolls, gỏi cuốn, are a delightful food that is extremely satisfying yet wonderfully healthy.
Traditionally, salad rolls consist of softened rice paper wrapped around a filling that is either vegetables or a mixture of vegetables, pork, chicken, tofu or prawns. They are a great meal to take to work or school, as they hold up surprisingly well wrapped in plastic wrap. You can alter the ingredients to suit your palate and your leftovers, and salad rolls are a great food to bring to a party.
Salad rolls are served at room temperature or cold and are not deep fried or cooked on the outside. They are a light and fresh combination of tastes and textures. Served with peanut sauce and chili paste or oil, they are extremely popular in restaurants as an appetizer or lunch.
Mother-and-daughter team Lucy and April Eklund run the Vietnamese restaurant Jade in Portland’s Sellwood neighborhood. They have already had to expand to meet its popularity as a neighborhood spot as well as a destination dining experience. Jade’s varied menu, which includes salad rolls, will easily please those who are gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian.
Lucy and April shared one of their recipes so you can make salad rolls at home. Accept that you may struggle with the first couple you make, but with a bit of practice, you will be able to roll up these tasty and economical treats with ease.
Fresh Salad Rolls
Ingredients (Serves 6)
- 6 rice paper sheets
- 12 raw large shrimp *
- 10 oz. chicken breast (boneless & skinless) *
- 8 large green leaves lettuce (thick stem ends removed)
- 1 large carrot shredded
- 1 red bell pepper (cut julienne)
- ¼ English cucumber (cut julienne)
- ¼ cup mint leaves
- ¼ cup Thai basil leaves
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
* For vegetarian alternative, use 6 oz. of tofu, sautéed and seasoned with salt and pepper, instead of shrimp and chicken.
1. Cook the shrimp in salted boiling water. All shrimp should float to the surface of the water when done. Place cooked shrimp in ice water. Shell, devein and cut lengthwise in half.
2. Cook the chicken breast in boiling, salted water for 20 minutes (test if done by piercing with a fork; juices should run clear). Thinly slice chicken.
3. Fill a large basin or crock-pot with very hot tap water. Take a single sheet of rice paper and completely submerge in hot water. Quickly remove sheet from water and lay on a large cutting board.
4. Lay shrimp across the bottom third of the rice paper. Lay some lettuce leaves on top. On the lettuce, place chicken, carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, mint, basil and cilantro.
5. Grasp the bottom forth of the rice paper with thumbs underneath. Pulling paper slightly taut, roll everything into a cylinder.
Peanut Sauce for Salad Rolls
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon chili paste (optional)
- 1 tablespoon palm sugar
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- ¼ cup hoisin sauce
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- ¼ cup ground roasted peanuts
1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and chili paste.
2. Turn down the heat while stirring often until it turns light brown, about 30 seconds. Add the water, peanut butter, hoisin sauce and palm sugar. Bring to a boil.
3. Lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Add vinegar. Garnish with ground peanuts and chili paste.