7 fun facts about rice paper rolls

No-one truly knows who invented rice paper rolls but we're glad they exist. Here are a few things you didn't know about this popular Vietnamese dish.

Healthy and wholesome rice paper rolls.
  • Rachel Gray
  • January 2019

In Vietnam, rice paper rolls are a popular dish. The ingredients are all laid out on the table at meal times and each family member rolls their own – to their own taste. The locals enjoy pork and prawn in their rolls, but vegetarian options are more common in Australia. Modern restaurants are even serving fish or sour pork varieties. Read on to find out everything you ever wanted to know about these yummy little wraps.

What are they called?

Rice paper rolls in Vietnam are also called fresh spring rolls (gỏi cuốn) but submerge them into a vat of hot oil and – hey presto! – they become instant deep-fried spring rolls.

Rice paper rolls can be fried or served fresh
Rice paper rolls can be fried or served fresh.

What’s inside a rice paper roll?

Shredded lettuce, carrots, vermicelli noodles, pork, prawn or beef flavoured with herbs and pickles. Then it’s all wrapped in rice paper and served with dipping sauce.

Are they all the same?

In Vietnam, each region favours different flavours. In the north, it’s sour with homemade pickles. In central Vietnam fresh spring rolls are generally hot and spicy. And down south? There are too many culinary influences to pick one dominant flavour.

Make rice paper rolls your way
Make rice paper rolls your way.

How are rice paper rolls eaten in Australia?

In Australia, recipes seem to be much more varied and anything that can be rolled in rice paper can become a filling: cream cheese, salmon, avocado, egg, tofu and even beetroot.

Are they healthy?

This street food is gluten-free, often dairy-free and nutrient-rich depending on what you put inside it.

What’s the best sauce to dip them in?

There are sweet, sour, hoisin, peanut, mild and spicy chilli sauces – the list goes on. Always dip. Just pick one according to your taste.

Perfect for dipping
Perfect for dipping.

What’s the history of the dish?

According to Vietnamese chef Tony Ngoc of The Chopsticks Saigon restaurant, no-one knows the true history of the rolls. “Maybe it comes from the north’s famous fresh steamed spring rolls called ‘pho cuon thit nuong’, which has grilled pork, vegetables and herbs inside,” he says. “They are more than 100 years old.”