Salad Rolls

When I was a pre-teen visiting my family in Vancouver, I liked to visit the food at Granville Island.  This goes to show that my idea of a good time has not changed all that much in 25 years.  I still go to look at food markets in whatever city I visit.  ANYWAY at twelve years of age I regularly struggled with the following big dilema…should I have ravioli with meat sauce and chinotto (a delicious cola that is flavoured with a hint of bitter orange) from the Italian food stall OR should I get one of those wierdly delicious salad rolls from the sushi stall.  It was the 1980s, and I realize in retrospect that the owners of the sushi stall were almost certainly Vietnamese.  I guess there was a market for Sushi but not not for Vietnamese food at that point.  This was my first introduction to Vietnamese food, which has since become my favourite cuisine.  Delicious marinated meat, fresh herbs in massive quantity, rice noodles, pickled vegetables and spicy, sweet, fishy sauces….YUM!

I make salad rolls  (sometimes called summer rolls) quite often.  This recipe is not authentic, it is just the recipe that I have come up with that suites my taste buds the best.  Salad rolls can bear a lot of experimentation and I encourage you to try different things out until you find the salad roles that you like best!

This recipe will probably require a trip to an Asian supermarket (also my idea of a good time) to buy rice paper wrappers and chili sauce.  You should also get your rice noodles and hoisin sauce there.  Although these items are now available in most western  grocery  stores, they are WAY cheaper in an Asian Grocery.  Sometimes when I am out of rice paper wrappers I just pile all of the ingredients into a lettuce leaf instead.


  • grated jicama
  • grated carrot
  • mint (lots of it! Imagine that it is lettuce!)
  • basil (lots of this too!)
  • 2 or 3 cooked, shelled, medium shrimp per roll (optional)
  • crispy lettuce (optiona, I like butter lettuce)
  • cooked, drained and cooled rice noodles (optional)
  • seeded cucumber cut into long peices (optional)
  • Rice paper wrappers
  • boiling water
1.  Wash and dry all the herbs and lettuces, grate the carrot and jicama and cook, drain and cool the rice noodles before you begin. 2.  Lay all of the ingredients out within easy reach.
summer role makings

3.  Fill a large shallow baking tray or platter with nearly boiling water.

4.  Place a rice wrapper in the water, pushing it down so that it is totally submerged.

5. Allow the rice wrapper to soak for about a minute or until it just becomes soft

6. Carefully lift the rice wrapper onto a large plate or cutting board.

7. put a small amount of each ingredient in a pile on the rice wrapper just left of center.
8. Roll the smaller portion of the rice wrapper around the pile leaving about a third of the wrapper unrolled to the right.  Use a bit of pressure to compress the filling.
9. Fold the flaps at the top and bottom over the roll and then finish rolling it up!
10. Repeat with the remaining rice wrappers and ingredients.
**Please note that the rice paper wrapper sticks to itself to seal the role.  This means that if you store the rolls right next to each other they will also stick to each other.  Either keep them apart or wrap each role in wax paper or a leaf of lettuce before storing.
  • crunchy peanut butter or chopped roasted peanuts
  • hoisin sauce ( try to find a brand with no MSG)
  • Sweet chili sauce or sambal oelek
  • Sweetener (only needed if you used sambal instead of sweet chili sauce)
  • rice vinegar (optional)
  • minced garlic (optional)
  • minced onion (optional)
  • water (enough to achieve desired consistancy)
 If you are using garlic and or onion, I suggest putting all of the ingredients (except the peanuts)  in a sauce pan and allowing them to simmer for a few minutes before folding  the peanuts in.  However,  I usually just stir some hoisin sauce, peanut butter and sweet chili sauce with a bit of boiling water and serve it up!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Ieva Wool says:

    Oh ya – Silvi was partially raised at Granville Island, and those salad rolls were definitely a staple.

    1. I have very strong memories of you and Hank and Silvi at Granville island, playing scrabble and eating more blueberries at one sitting than should be physically possible!

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