Spring rolls are the Vietnamese starter that we just can't resist. You'll find them fried and packed with a delightful mixture of crunchy vegetables, prawns or minced beef, or served up raw for a lighter version than their more well-known Chinese cousins.
But if we're honest, whether crispy or fresh, these little wonders get our vote up every time. We take a closer look at the UK's favourite variations of the Vietnamese spring roll – at Seasons Vietnamese, Banh Mi Town and Viet Grill.
Rainbow of colourful fillings
Vietnamese spring rolls have a relatively simple formula. The hot version is filled with seafood, pork and vegetables and then deep-fried to golden perfection. But you can get cold ones too – where you'll find shreds of vegetables, rice noodles, pork, tofu or seafood wrapped delicately inside see-through rice paper, and known as summer rolls.
It's not just the endless types of fillings either that make the Vietnamese roll so great – herbs play a big role in Vietnamese cooking. Coriander is a favourite, with mint perilla leaves adding a fiery hit. Dip them in Vietnamese nuoc cham sauce – the garlic, fish sauce and lime brings all the ingredients together.
Fun finger food
Vietnamese summer rolls are called goi cuon, which translates to rice paper rolls – and they can also get called banh trang. Although no one is certain when or where they came from, they're the signature dish of Southern Vietnam and almost every country in Asia has their own variation.
Those crispy deep-fried delights are called cha gio when filled with paper, but nem is something of a catch-all term for all the meat-filled rice-paper rolls. Even in Vietnam there can be disagreements over what these terms mean, as confusingly the names can vary region to region.
Traditionally the rolls are vegetable-heavy to cater to the large Buddhist population. And they're the preferred food for special occasions and family festivities – these little delights take finger food to the next level.
The best of the bunch
For die-hards, you can't go wrong with prawn and pork spring rolls. And Viet Grill is the place to go. They've got a range of spring and summer rolls on the menu, but classic deep-fried vegetable spring rolls have a special place in our heart.
Meanwhile, Banh Mi Town serve up more than just sandwiches – their spring rolls are deep-fried and ideal for dipping, while their lighter summer rolls have fresh, zingy fillings. And our favourite type from Seasons Vietnamese is the crispy seafood spring rolls, with traditional homemade chili and garlic fish sauce – though we don't advise ordering it in for date night.
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