Gỏi cuốn. Summer rolls. Every Vietnamese person calls them something different, but in our house, we just call them roll ups. Many a family dinner can be found with us gathered around the table rolling up wrap after wrap of these personalized pouches filled with fresh vegetables, herbs, rice noodles and grilled protein of choice. They’re easily customized to meet every dietary need including food allergies and are FODMAP friendly. From special birthdays to a laid back weekend dinner, Vietnamese Lemongrass Pork Roll Ups are fit for every occasion.
You can’t have a true roll up experience without a dipping sauce. There’s often a heated debate whether nuoc mam refers to the dipping sauce accompanying many Vietnamese dishes and the purists who insist it’s only in reference to fish sauce. In our house, when we need fish sauce, we call it fish sauce. When we want the dipping sauce, we call it nuoc mam. Either way, it’s umami, salty goodness in a bowl. The exact formula for nuoc mam varies from family to family, as many “secret” recipes do. It typically contains a blend of fish sauce, vinegar (and/or other acidic elements like lime or lemon juice) and sugar. We often add in crushed garlic and chilis to our nuoc mam, but I didn’t this time in trying to keep it on the FODMAP friendly side. In recent years, we’ve even found a vegan version made from tomatoes that’s safe for my younger brother who’s allergic to all seafood. Until then, he ate roll ups with soy sauce. Which any Vietnamese kid can tell you, that ain’t a bad way to eat them, either.
- 1 pound pork loin, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup lemongrass juice
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- salt and pepper, to taste
- nuoc mam dipping sauce (see Note below)
- Roll up fillings: chopped cilantro, Thai basil, lime wedges, roasted peanuts, chopped white/green onions, shredded carrots, lettuce, rice noodles, rice paper
To make lemongrass juice
Chop up 3-4 lemongrass stalks and combine with 1 cup of filtered water in a blender. Blend until lemongrass is broken down. Strain and use, storing any unused portions for up to 1 week in the refrigerator. You can avert some of the natural oxidation/browning of the lemongrass juice by adding in an acid (vinegar, lemon juice) to help preserve the color, if the color is a turnoff for you. However, it’s perfectly safe to use even though it’s darkened!
For the pork
- Marinate the pork with lemongrass juice, turmeric, salt and pepper for at least 30 minutes.
- Grill or roast pork until done and serve as the protein filling for the roll ups.
To make a roll up
- Wet rice paper with warm water and lay on a plate or cutting board.
- Place your choice of fillings from the list above at the bottom of the rice paper. Make sure not to put in too many ingredients, otherwise your rice paper will split when you roll it up. See picture below for reference.
- Fold in the left side of the rice paper, then the right side. Then roll up (get it?!) until you create a sealed pouch. Now you’re ready to eat!
Note: If you don’t want to make your own nuoc mam, there are plenty of pre-made nuoc mam options now available in your local Asian market or Asian section of the grocery store.
This recipe was developed and submitted to the Smithfield Fresh Pork Shake it Up Contest. If you like the recipes I’ve posted, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog and check in for my regular posts over on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.