Vietnamese Summer Rolls – Light version – 2 ways

Vietnamese Summer Rolls – Light version – 2 ways

What are you favourite dinners on a hot summer night? 

If you know a bit (or a lot) about the Netherlands, you would know that we are notorious for wet, damp and gray weather for most of the year. ? Situated right under the North Sea and east of North Atlantic Ocean, the country has moderate maritime climate which means  a cool summer and a mild winter. Okay, these are the scientific and elegant words for A LOT of ?⚡⛈☔? wind, rains, clouds, and storms throughout most of the year. This translates into a typical gray summer day at sub-20C, a wet winter day with temperature hoovering around 2-5C, and, consequently, an outbreak of Vitamin D deficiency. For that, we complain A LOT about the weather here.  Keep reading on and I’ll leave a link at the end for a very funny Youtube clip on how Dutchies deal with the weather. Be prepared for some stomach cramps!

However, we have been blessed with one of the best summers so far this year. It’s been a three-week streak of blazing sun, cloudless blue sky, and uber-warm temperature between 25-28C…or even ?above 30C like today. I hate to admit but I’ve been guilty of complaining about this ☺ after getting soaked in sweat just from biking to work and head-scratching moments with the dinner menu’s.  What to eat when it’s simply to warm for almost everything ? Especially when the last thing you want to do is to stick around a burning stove top for more than 15 minutes?

This is where my Vietnamese heritage shines ??- what’s better than Vietnamese Fresh Summer Rolls??? They are light, refreshing, vibriantly colourful, super quick, yummy and nutritious ???☘?. It’s also an interactive dish that you can involve your partner or family in the cooking process – “Roll your own bites”! Traditionally, fresh rolls call for quite a number of ingredients and prep time – pork belly (boiled and sliced), shrimps (peeled and steamed), shredded cucumber & carrots, thinly-cut omelette strips, bean sprouts, lettuce, fresh herbs, and rice vermicelli. However, we are not going to make such a diligent effort this time, but a  light simplified version instead. I’m sharing below 2 flavours of these exotic rolls – chicken and vegetarian (tempeh)

Oh God, this intro is way too long! Sorry about that, let’s get on right to the food.

Ingredient – 12-15 rolls

The base

  • 1 lettuce head
  • 1/2 cucumber, wash and cut into thin strips
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and julienned into thin strips
  • 1 paprika or 2 halves of different colours, cut into thin strips
  • 200gr bean sprouts, washed through a few waters
  • Fresh herbs of choice: chives (bieslook in Dutch), coriander, mint
  • (Optional) 100gr – 150gr of dried vermicelli – To make it light and low-carb, or simply because not many of us have this at home, we can skip it. Rinse and boil in hot water for about 10 mins until al-dente
  • 15-20 sheets of rice papers (better have some spare in case your rolls are too big and break the sheet 😀 – this happens often) . Choose those especially for fresh rolls vs. fried spring rolls.
  • A bowl of warm water for damping the rice paper

The chicken version (10mins)

  • 250gr of chicken breast, cut into thin strips
  • Salt, pepper, smoked paprika OR any seasoning of choice, e.g. a sprinkle of five-spice powder
  • 1 tsp ~ 8ml mild olive oil for cooking

The vegetarian version with pan-fried or oven baked tempeh – This requires more time (~35mins) unless you buy ready-cooked one from supermarket!

  • 250gr tempeh, cut in pinky-sized strips
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper powder
  • 1 tbsp ~ 15ml apple cider vinegar OR lime juice
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp ~ 15ml low-sodium soy sauce
  • (Optional) – 1 fresh chili if you like it spicy

The dipping sauce – golden ratio 1:1:5

  • 1 tbsp fish sauce – This is important as it is the authentic Vietnamese way! We don’t dip our rolls in peanut butter sauce or any hoisin sorts!
  • 1-2 tsp of cane or coconut sugar
  • 5 tbsp water
  • 1 lime – yields about 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1-2 Thai bird-eye chili – the scorching one ;), minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced



  • Season the chicken with spices, salt, and pepper
  • On medium high heat, stir-fry with oil in a pan until cooked


  • Transfer all ingredients except the tempeh into a food processor or Nutribullet, if you have one like me.
  • Pulse a few times until you get a coarse paste. Thin it with 1 tbsp water if needed
  • Marinate the tempeh strips with this paste in a ziploc bag or a bowl for about 15mins
  • Bake in the oven at 175C for 20 mins (flip sides at half-time) OR pan fry until cooked

Dipping sauce

  • Mix all ingredients according to the ratio 1:1:5 for fish sauce|sugar|water
  • If needed, adjust to your taste of liking

Let’s rock and roll

  • If you use vermicelli, rinse and cook it in boiled water for about 9-10 minutes until al dente. Then rinse under cold water until cooled.
  • Dip the rice paper in warm water by rotating the rims. It might not feel softened in the beginning will be when you start rolling, so do not overwet it.
  • Spread it on a large plate or surface
  • Line a leaf of lettuce on one end of the rice paper
  • Layer with a few strips of vegs, protein cuts, (noodles), and herbs
  • Fold from the rim of the lettuce to close everything in ➡ Fold two ends on the sides ➡ Then continue to fold along the width until the end

There you have it – a delightful summer dinner in the scorching evening heat!!!

And as promised, here’s the link to the hilarious Youtube video if you want some good laugh while eating your beautiful rolls.

Nutritional Value per roll (MyFitnessPal)

  • Chicken version: Calories: 40Cal / 170Kj ; Fat: 1.2gr; Cholesterol 10mg; Sodium 50mg; Potassium: 74mg ; Carb: 2.5gr ; Fiber: 0.7gr ; Sugar: 0.9gr ; Protein 4.9gr; Vit A: 26% 
  • Tempeh version: Calories: 50Cal / 209Kj ; Fat: 1.8gr; Sodium 75mg; Potassium: 12.7mg ; Carb: 3.2gr ; Fiber: 1.3gr ; Sugar: 0.9gr ; Protein 3.4gr; Vit A: 26%