Vegetable/Herb Spring Rolls for Summer Fest 2009- Share your recipes, garden tips & stories

vietnamese herbs

A new blogging event has just launched and this time, it’s a fun, free for all celebration of Summer’s bounty! Started last Summer by Margaret Roach of Away to Garden and Deb Puchalla, which was called Food Fest, lovers of everything fresh, delicious, and/or from the garden shared ideas and recipes from across the globe. Last summer’s event was a cross-blog event where they would announce a food or “crop” in advance and they would then swap recipes, growing tips, lore and whatever else came up. Their readers did the same, and everyone linked to each other liberally, so everyone benefited.

summerfest-badgeNow forSummer Fest 2009, Margaret has continued this cross-blog event every Tuesday for the next four weeks, which will be acelebration of fresh-from-the-garden food: recipes, growing tips, even tricks for storing and preserving summer’s best. For this years Summer party, Margaret has collaborated with co-creators  Matt of Matt Bites (who also created the gorgeous plump tomato logo), Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen,  us of White on Rice Couple, and will have guest appearances from Shauna and Daniel Ahern of Gluten-Free Girl, Simmer Till Done’s Marilyn Pollack Naron, and Paige Smith Orloff of The Sister Project.

Read more about how Summer Fest 2009 works on Margaret’s site at Away to Garden.

Herb Week! This week is about Herbs and we’re talking about our huge garden full of Vietnamese herbs! There’s Vietnamese herbs bursting at every corner of the garden. All of last years herb seedlings have sprouted like weeds, but quite delicious weeds that we don’t yank out too fast.


Vietnamese cuisine is usually most noted for it’s abundant and frequent use of unique & exotic herbs. The flavors, textures, scents and overall freshness that these herbs contribute to everyday Vietnamese dishes is what makes the cuisine so fresh, aromatic and healthy. Eaten generously along side almost every meal, the fresh leaves & stems create a unique & delicious layer of flavor to the already dynamic tastes of Vietnamese cuisine.  Raw herbs are torn,  tossed, rolled and/or wrapped into dishes ranging from, but hardly limited to,  soups, rice & noodle dishes, sandwiches and spring rolls.  A few other herbs are also used more in the cooking of soups, braises, and grilled dishes.

The bright, aromatic, citrusy, spicy, sweet, musky and often floral notes of Vietnamese herbs are the dynamic sensations that make each bite unique.

Growing Vietnamese herbs are quite easy as well, from both seed and clippings. Often times, a healthy stem of a Vietnamese herb can quickly produce roots if placed in a glass of water for about one week. From there, the starter stem can be planted into soil and a healthy plant will explode, warm weather permitting. The most important requirement for successfully growing herbs is abundance of warm weather. In colder regions where temperatures can dip below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, Vietnamese herbs often struggle to produce a strong enough root structure for the leafy, edible foliage. Although colder regions have shorter growing seasons, you must take advantage of every warm weather week to enjoy your Vietnamese herbs that love any kind of heat.

VIetnamese Herbs

Here is a basic guide to common Vietnamese herbs: (More in-depth guide is available at

  • Vietnamese Balm (Kinh Giới)- Lemon-citrus scented flavor with a suggestion of mint.  Reminiscent of lemongrass flavor, but with the texture of mint.
  • Spearmint (Húng Lũi) – Tastes like mint! Not to be confused with peppermint which has the stronger and brighter flavor associated with mint ice cream.
  • Basil (Húng Quế) – typically Thai/Asian Basil – Typical basil tastes with a sweet/spicy, anise/licorice scented leaves.
  • Vietnamese Perilla (Tiá Tô)- Purple colored leaves, particularly underneath the leaves. Earthy, bold, and musky flavored. Also in the mint family.
  • Vietnamese Coriander (Rau Răm) – Spicy, peppery, musky, and slightly lemony & bitter.

  • Culantro ( Ngò Gai) -aka Sawtooth Herb – Strong cilantro flavor, verging on bitter-soapy taste

Herbaceous Feast! Fresh Rice Paper Rolls (Fresh Spring rolls, Summer rolls, what ever you want to call them) are a staple in our household. When the garden is exploding with Vietnamese herbs, we eat fresh these fresh rolls almost every day.  Oh yes we do and we are always loving it!

These fresh rice paper rolls can be filled with almost anything you want, including the kitchen sink. From left over meats to vegetables and even raw fresh vegetables, these rolls are easy to please. But what makes these spring rolls distinctly Vietnamese is the inclusion of fresh herbs. So if you don’t have a plethora of Vietnamese herbs to choose from, even common mint and basil will definitely do the delicious trick.


Fresh Rice Paper (Spring/Summer) Rolls w/ Herbs & Vegetables in garlic soy dip

Yield: Serves 2-3.

Total Time: 20 min


  • About 6-8 sheets of Rice paper (4" rounds or larger)
  • 10 leaves fresh lettuce or leafy greens
  • Handful of fresh Vietnamese herbs
  • Plateful of fresh vegetables of any kind, julienne  (bell peppers, carrots, celery, zucchini, cucumbers). You can keep these vegetable raw, like we did for the photographs, or cook them how ever you wish!
  • warm water.


1. In large bowl, fill with warm water. Quickly dip each rice paper in warm water for about 2-3 seconds.

2. Place wet rice paper on work station and follow rolling instructions here, at Springrolling 101. Make sure rice paper is completely hydrated and softened before rolling.

3. Once vegetables are all laid out on rice paper and then rolled, serve immediately or within 2 hours. These rolls can be covered with plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator, but the rice paper will begin to lose moisture and harden.

4. Rolls can be served as whole rolls, cut in half or even cut in bite size pieces, like cut sushi.

5. Serve with Garlic Soy dipping sauce.

Garlic Soy Dipping Sauce Recipe

  • 1-2 crushed garlic cloves (or finely minced), but crushed garlic really brings out the flavor.
  • 1 crushed thai chili
  • 1/2 squeezed lime (or about 2 Tablespoons)
  • 1 Tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/8 cup water

1. Mix all ingredients together well, making sure sugar dissolves. Add slices of chili on top for garnish and extra spice joy!

2. Serve with springrolls.

3. This recipe will make about 1/2 cup dip. But it's also a fantastic marinade as well!

Recipe Source:

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Jen@ blooming tea

    Wow, those spring rolls looks really fresh and yummy, I’m not really familiar with Vietnamese herbs, anyway thanks for sharing this. ‘love your blog 🙂

  2. Katie

    I have heirloom tomatoes and basil coming out of my ears right now. Today I posted with all my “mystery” varieties that are close to harvesting due to our winds blowing away all my markers. I have a few recipes -my husbands favorite –

    Also – make a summer corn and avocado salad (on my site).

    Your herbs look fabulous. We love to cook thai food and I am going to try to plant some thai basil next year! Your pictures are gorgeous!

  3. Mélanie

    I’m a little late with this one, but we had a delicious strawberry and mint tart on Sunday, and I had to post the recipe… Mint does really brighten up the flavors of the strawberries, I could have eaten everything by myself!

  4. Mélanie

    I went to Vietnam last summer, and the food was really incredible… We loved all the fresh salads and rolls filled with differents flavors. I have an asian shop close to home, but I was really lost in front of all the herbs they have, now, thanks to your post, I may be able to recreate some dishes home!
    I really wanted to participate to this blog event (even if it’s at the last minute…). I have a lot of mint on my balcony, it’s everywhere, so I use it in fruit salads (love it), and in this cucumber soup :

  5. Terry B, Blue Kitchen

    I’ve been reading about Vietnamese herbs lately. Looking at your post here, I obviously need to find a Chicago source for them. Thanks to all of you for putting Summer Fest together. Here’s my entry: These Rosemary Sage Chops use not one, but two fresh herbs for a quick, flavorful, tomato-free Italian main course.

  6. rick @ à la mode

    oh, i just saw your reply mentioning kitazawa seeds, they have vietnamese balm, yay!

    those spring rolls look so vibrant and fresh. all this talk of herbs and vietnamese food has me itching to hit lil saigon for some good eats!

    here’s my post for summer fest (herbs): yakitori & shiso

    thanks you two!

  7. Cheryl Arkison

    I still need to do that snickerdoodle taste test. But I digress.

    These rolls look amazing! I haven’t managed to get the kids chomping through rice paper yet, but I’m keeping this one in reserve.

    And Summer Fest got me motivated with my weekly CSA delivery. Red Quinoa and Mallow Tabbouleh.


  8. My Persian Kitchen

    I love love love Vietnamese spring rolls. They are just soooo good.

    Here is my contribution: Mast-o-khiar a delicious summer soup perfect for hot summer days.

  9. sarah

    This looks really delicious! Anytime I make something and my dad responds “Mmm this tastes like Vietnamese food”, you can bet it has mint in it. By the way, do you really get 2 tbsp from a half of one of your limes?

  10. rick @ à la mode

    thanks for a very insightful post. i’ve always loved vietnamese balm at the restaurants, do you know where i can get the plant around la/orange county? do the vietnamese supermarkets sell them? love love your garden!

    1. dena

      I also live in the LA area. I am heading to 99 Ranch tomorrow in Hacienda Heights. I am sure they have it. They have everything there.

  11. Charmian Christie

    Love the sound of these herbs. I hadn’t heard of them before and am curious to taste them. I’m a coriander nut and would love to do a taste test between the type I use and Vietnamese.

    I posted about pesto — coriander pesto for those who love the herb and a red pepper pesto for those who don’t.

  12. Tartelette

    That bouquet of herbs! Wow! I want one in every corner of the house! Outstanding photograph!
    I make spring rolls for lunch at least once a week and I love seeing as many recipes for them as I can. This one is another keeper!

  13. jo

    Having a herb garden is such fun especially if you are making a dish like this. I only wish I had green fingers. My herbs have a shelf life of about a month only. My husband says that it’s better to put them out of their misery rather than have me tendering the plants.

  14. s. stockwell

    Your spring rolls are beautiful and the herbs re something we will try to plant asap. We have a special burrito that is a favorite in our region. We created our own recipe for this and added a rich spicy salsa for dipping. Hope you like it? See it here.

    Thank you for a great blog. Best, s

  15. liz

    Love how Vietnam and Vietnamese food has opened up a whole new world of fresh herbs. Was there in February and March of this year. Still dreaming of Hanoi, Hoi An, the beaches and Vietnamese ice coffee.
    Anxiously awaiting ripening green figs on my Brooklyn backyard fig tree. We thought it was a goner last year and inexpertly loped off many branches but lo and behold! it came back to life. I hope someone will post a recipe or two – I know it’s not a stone fruit but….

  16. grace

    um…how is it that i, an ardent cilantro-lover, have never heard of culantro? this is shameful. i’m now on a mission.

  17. Chef Gwen

    Inspired by Summer Fest, here’s my new post for a cilantro & mint citrus salsa.

  18. Diana

    What a great idea! I have been cooking so much with fresh herbs this summer. One of my favorites is panko and feta zucchini pancakes (my husband prefers pancakes, I usually call them fritters). They use fresh dill, parsley, and scallions and are so amazing, we can’t get enough of them.

    I love spring/summer rolls and have a post on them too. They’re perfect for days like today (103 degrees in WA, what the heck?!) when you can’t even imagine using the stove.

  19. cosmic cowgirl

    i wanna play, too! i love herbs, gorgeous as well as fragrant…so much so that i included them in my wedding bouquet! check this recipe out:

  20. Jennifer Hess

    These are just beautiful, and what a fun way to incorporate more herbs and vegetables into your diet. I’ll be trying these soon.

  21. joey

    The thing I love most about Vietnamese food is exactly what you portray here — the brilliant fresh herb flavors! I am in love with you herb garden…my dream! 🙂

  22. Hélène

    Love the idea so much, so sad that I don’t have a garden this year. I miss it so much. If I can find rice paper in town I’ll make your rolls. Your recipes are winner in my house with my two teenage sons. I’m not baking your cookies this week because it’s so hot but will soon. Hugs xoxo

  23. Cate

    I absolutely LOVE these. I just bought a package of wrappers and I’m determined to use them up within the week!

    My favorite herb recipes for Summer Fest are:
    Classic Pesto (with and immersion blender):
    Dill and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts

  24. jaden

    I went to Asian market the other day and so sad I couldn’t find the Three Ladies rice paper!! waaaahhh! But I bought several kinds, will test them next week to see which is best. I like them a little thicker like Three Ladies.

  25. Toni

    You guys have the garden of earthly delights. I never wanted to leave it, actually. And those rolls look beyond wonderful. Of course, I’m an absolute fool for Vietnamese food!

  26. Asianmommy

    Yum! Your rice paper rolls look fantastic!

  27. Kristina

    I am in love with Vietnamese Coriander. It doesn’t bolt like cilantro in my garden and as long as you remember to take a few cuttings in the fall and over-winter it inside, it does great in my garden.

    Here’s my Summerfest post:
    Chilled Curried Yellow Squash Soup with Cilantro-Lime Puree:

  28. Holly

    I just found Vietnamese Corriander and Culantro at my garden center. They are doing well in my garden, they smell wonderful. I just made a post for Mango Mojitos with mint from my garden. I guess this recipe could be used for nest week also, the mangoes came from the neighbors tree.

  29. shauna

    You two constantly amaze me. These photographs!

    And now I know even more herbs to plant in the garden next spring.

  30. Gavan Murphy 'The Healthy Irishman'

    BTW thanks for that link for the Vietnamese herbs. I’ve made these spring rolls before and love how fresh and crisp they are. Great photo too.

  31. Sopheavy

    Those look lovely and very healthy. I am Cambodian and we also grew up with the same herbs. My parents grow these all over their backyard including a ton of other stuff. My mom’s food is always fresh and tasty because a lot of the herbs are fresh out of the garden. I usually go to their house at least once a week to steal some herbs from the garden lol. keep up the good work. I love your photos!

  32. Gavan Murphy 'The Healthy Irishman'

    I love this Summer Fest idea. My wife and I grow pretty much all our own herbs and friends in our tiny backyard from Cilantro to Mint to Thai basil and a few in between, including peppers and strawberries. It’s really easy to do and just being able to go out and pick fresh herbs is great.
    Here’s one of my recipes where I did just that.

    Looking forward to the next few weeks.

  33. Julie

    Those look fantastic! A great use of my plethora of mint, which is taking over my lawn so that when it’s mowed the air smells fresh and minty.

    I have the best luck with flat-leaf Italian parsley, and always have tons in my garden for fresh parsley hummus:, brown and wild rice salad with dried fruit and pecans:, and today I loaded up a lemony new potato salad with peas:

  34. Simone (junglefrog)

    I love the vietnamese kitchen and ever since we have visited Vietnam two years ago I try and cook some vietnamese dishes when I get the change, but stupidly enough I have never thought about the vietnamese herbs. But you’re right; very distinct flavours and I wouldn’t have guessed they would be so easy to grow! I’m am so going to try this soon!

    In the meantime, if you have any dill leftover that you want to use, you should try this dill, feta and smoked chicken quiche, which is really tasty!

  35. Kelsey/TheNaptimeChef

    This looks amazing! I can’t wait to make these. In the spirit of Summer Fest, here are my favorite ways to use fresh herbs.
    I like to use fresh herbs to make my Lemon Herb Salt for Roasted Potatoes,

    And to add to my Baked Tomato & Zucchini Gratin:

    Not to mention homemade pesto – so simple and delicious!

  36. Theresa/GardenFreshLiving

    Sounds so yummy. I have not tried growing Vietnamese Coriander yet, but I’m adding it to my garden list now! I can’t wait to try these spring rolls.

    I did a post for Summer Feast on cooking with mint. There are so many different kinds of mint besides spearmint and peppermint and all are wonderful in the kitchen.

  37. Marjorie

    I love cooking from my little kitchen garden here in France and with all of this herb inspiration, it looks like I’ll be expanding my herb garden. Thanks for the tip on where to get the seeds for the Vietnamese herbs. The photo looks amazing and I can’t wait to try them. As my contribution for the first week of Summer Fest 2009, I would like share my recipe for Aïoli with fresh garden herbs that I just recently posted on my blog –

    Thanks to all the contributors for this wonderful idea.

  38. Chef Gwen

    I happen to have a package of rice paper rolls in the pantry so I’m seeing these garden fresh rolls in my future. Will make a trip to our fabulous Asian market, Ranch 99 in Phoenix, to see if I can score some of the Vietnamese varieties (I learned something new!) Thank you!

    All I have to contribute is a quick, short lesson on how to “chiffonade” basil:

  39. White on Rice Couple

    Hi Gavan- herb seedlings can be purchased at Kitazawa Seed Company in the Bay area. They’re reliable and have quality seeds:

    Happy Vietnamese herb growing to you!

  40. Gavan Murphy 'The Healthy Irishman'

    Delighted to have come across your site. Not only is this post informative, it looks downright delicious. I would love to try my hand at growing some Vietnamese herbs. Though my victory garden is small I have a bit of space available and now I have a recipe to boot! I’m in LA–could you suggest the best place to pick up these seedlings?


  41. Andrea

    You know you have me hooked on summer rolls? My kids are even into them. And thanks for doing the Summer Fest again!

    One of my favorite herbs is basil, that summer garden workhorse, and one of my favorite varieties is lemon basil. It works well in salads, with chicken, seafood, or even in lemonade or sorbets. We also like it in pasta dishes, like this one with fresh zucchini:

  42. Tammy

    What a beautiful post! I have never tried the Vietnamese herbs but will be looking for them asap. Here’s my contribution for an herbed dessert from David Lebovitz and for yet another
    pesto recipe

  43. arundati

    that looks so beautiful….. i’ve had a pack of rice paper rolls for sometime now… must check to see if they are still usable… this is so easy to make and looks so pretty!

  44. Deb Mele

    What a great idea! I will have to go check out all the other contributors.
    I love using fresh herbs in any of my recipes although the heat here in Umbria the past month has not done our herb garden any favors.

    One of my recent favorite recipes I do for entertaining I found in Amy Sherman’s cookbook about appetizers.
    Here is my version of Goat Cheese Mini Bites at

    We also have rosemary bushes that are shoulder height growing like weeds on our property so I created this recipe for Apple Cake With Rosemary Syrup to use some of the rosemary.


  45. matt

    Todd and Diane, this is sooooo great! If there are readers who have not tried the bounty of Vietnamese herbs I do hope they do their best to get their hands on them. I don’t mean to exaggerate but when I say these herbs have changed my life I do mean it!

    I never thought herbs would be at the forefront of a meal but they really do carry the essence and spirit of the cooking.


    I knew I could never compete with your garden so I just did herbs and booze. Hello? Have you met me? 🙂

  46. Margaret Roach

    I have just added rice-paper to my shopping list, thank you.

    This whole spring and summer, I’ve been living on a variant: garden-fresh salad greens and herbs (and asparagus spears, earlier on, lightly steamed) stuffed in a warm whole-wheat wrap with a little melted cheese or some hummus or avocado…but heavy on the salad and herbs. I’ve really enjoyed making up new combos (current fave=salad/herbs, feta, hummus, avocado, maybe some bits of kalamata olive).

    Now I have a whole new direction to explore. So glad to have you in Summer Fest, and to have this recipe and how-to. By the time our four-week adventure is done, I expect my diet will be a whole lot wider.

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