Wrap Rolls - Vietnam's Culinary Signature

For a long time spring rolls have been known as the icon of Vietnamese culinary culture. It is the harmony combination of fresh ingredients that makes this hand-rolled dish so loved. Besides, Vietnam also has a wide range of intriguing wrap rolls for you to discover. Provided that Vietnamese are extremely in favor of these kinds of dishes for the freshness of included ingredients and the savory “nuoc cham” used along, you can easily find various wrap rolls across the country, from the North to the South. Following would be 5 wrap-and-roll dishes Vietland Journey want to introduce to you cuisine seekers.

1. Pho cuon

Pho cuon, which can be literally translated into English as noodle roll, is a signature in Hanoi’s culinary culture. This dish consists of rice noodle sheets, fried egg, “cha gio” (Vietnamese sausage), sliced cucumber, carrot strings and many other herbs, typically like cilantro and lettuce. In some stalls or restaurants, pho cuon is served with garlic-stirred beef, cucumber, herbs and greens. Different in ingredients as they seem, the key factor that makes pho cuon so loved is the freshness of ingredients served with it. When eating pho cuon, you will wrap all the things together and dip the roll into a bowl of “nuoc cham” which is made from fish sauce, sugar, vinegar and chilies, then gradually feel the burst of flavors inside your mouth.

This dish would especially enhance your appetite in hot summer days.

pho cuon

Pho cuon would be served with savory "nuoc cham" which is made from fish sauce, sugar, vinegar and chilies.

pho cuon

In some place, ingredients of pho cuon only consist of stirred beef, lettuce and some coriander. 

2. Banh cuon

Banh cuon is another representative of wrap-and-roll dishes of Northern Vietnam, you can find the original taste of this dish when eating banh cuon Thanh Tri. Unlike pho cuon, instead of eating in cool condition, banh cuon would be best enjoyed while it is still hot. The cook will ladle each scoop of the rice flour-based batter onto the steamer, covering it with a lid for a matter of seconds, then carefully transferred the gossamer-thin sheets with a bamboo stick onto a tray. The freshly steamed rice-flour sheets will then be gently rolled with minced pork and wood ear mushroom, and topped with fried shallots. The thinner the rice sheets are, the more delicious the dish of banh cuon would be. When savoring banh cuon, you will dip it into the sweet and sour fish sauce and enjoy the dish with thick slices of Vietnamese sausage to enhance the flavor.

banh cuon

Banh cuon is usually enjoyed with nuoc cham and some thick slices of cha que. 

3. Nem lui

Nem lui, which means lemongrass skewers in English, is originated in Hue, a province in the Central Vietnam. It can be made from grounded pork or beef, be seasoned with garlic, sugar, and fish sauce and then rolled around skewers of lemongrass. Next it will be grilled over charcoal before being brought to the table. To eat nem lui Hue as a local, tourists shall use a rice paper served along with the dish, put in some lettuce, mint, basil, some slices of cucumbers, strings of carrots, green papayas and the most important part, a skewer, then roll it tightly. The key factor that makes nem lui in different places have different flavors lies in the sauce that you will dip your rolls into. In some restaurant, nem lui would be served with sweet and sour fish sauce but to eat nem lui at its original taste, the sauce has to be specially prepared with lots of ingredients, including minced peanuts boiled with some fish sauce.

nem lui

The best place to find the original taste of nem lui is in Hue. 

4. Banh khot

This is a dish of wrap and roll that you should not miss when coming to Vung Tau, a province in the south of Vietnam. The batter of banh khot is a mixture of rice flour, turmeric and coconut milk. This mixture will be poured into heated molds and then topped with shrimps or squid, depending on your preference and finished with some green onion on the top of the cake. A perfect banh khot would be fried to a perfect condition that the batter is crunching while the shrimp still keeps its tenderness. Once again, lettuce and herbs are used in the dish. To eat right, you will wrap a banh khot into a lettuce and some other greens, then dip the roll in the fish sauce served with. 

banh khot

Banh khot is a specialty of Vung Tau. 

5. Banh xeo

Banh xeo or sizzling pancake, an iconic dish of West South of Vietnam’s food, has its name from the sound made during the process of making this pancake. Shrimp and pork would be put into a boiling-oil small pan before coconut turmeric batter is spread over it later. The cake is then topped with bean sprouts and folded in half prior to being brought to the table. Banh xeo should be eaten right away while it is still crispy so that you can savor the dish at its best. Grab a rice sheet, roll it with some lettuce, some herbs and of course, a crunching bite of banh xeo, then dip the roll into a bowl of nuoc cham served along. There you go! The crispiness of banh xeo and the freshness of herbs and greens combine with each other, giving the eater such a feeling of pleasure!

banh xeo

 Banh xeo would be best enjoyed when it has just been brought into the table. 

banh xeo

The name of banh xeo (sizzling pancakes) comes from the sound made in the process of making this pancake. 

Apparently, Vietnamese have a great passion for wrap-and-roll dishes. Going across the country, it is not hard for you to find out a dish of rolls with different flavors, representing for different parts of the country. If you are planning to have a trip to Vietnam, make sure to include enjoying wrap-and-roll dishes in your bucket list!