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«Bûn Ta» restaurant on Nam Ky Khi Nghia in Ho Chi Minh City serves Vietnamese delicacies – «cru» or «cuit». Upon his visit to the eatery Hektor Maille would have definitely been rated as the cooked.

Summer Rolls «DIY»

In Vietnamese cuisine, herbs play an absolutely pivotal role. All manner of herbs are often brought to the table, raw, and added to the food dish at the very last moment. These Summer Rolls «Do It Yourself» are an especially wonderful way to savour the aroma of various herbs. Functioning, as these rolls do, to a certain extent as «building blocks», they are served at the table according to the person's mood and desire – just the right refreshment for secret agent Hektor Maille, who arrived in Saigon on a warm and warm and rainy eveneing after a long and tedious cross-country journey through Indo-China.

One can serve these rolls as a starter or as a main course (depending on the quantity) on a hot summer evening. One, of course, has a variety of ingredients to choose from, for the filling. We suggest a relatively classical set, which is served in a similar form also in Vietnamese restaurants. Here are the alternatives that come into question: meat or chicken or turkey, or even raw fish of Sushi quality, tofu, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, sour or sweet green mango, asparagus, radish, lollo, lettuce, frisee, soy shoots, radish shoots, Perilla leaves, rice noodles, Japanese somen, etc.

In addition to all the aromatic considerations, it is important to ensure that the set does not contain too many hard-textured ingredients (like, for instance, carrot pieces), which can make the roll hard. It is also important to ensure that the various ingredients are nicely dry when they come to the table – otherwise the rolls might just become somewhat slippery or watery.


(Ingredients (for the sauce)

2 small chillies, deseeded, in fine strips

4 pods garlic, peeled and cut in fine pieces or pressed

3 teaspoons sugar

5 tablespoons lime juice (about 3 limes)

4 tablespoons vietnamese fish sauce

Other ingredients (for 4 persons)

1 pinch salt

300 g porc stomach, with fat

1 small gherkin of about 200 g

2 carrots of about 100 g each

1 head lettuce

150 g mung bean sprouts

8 shrimps, cooked and peeled

100 g glass noodles

50 g coriander green

50 g saw tooth coriander

50 g vietnamese coriander

poss. 50 g mint

poss. 50 g sweet Thai-basil (Bai horapa)

100 g spring onions

50 g peanuts, roasted and peeled

16 (or more) sheets rice paper

The sauce we recomend to serve with the Summer Rolls «DIY» has it's name from the Vietnamese Fish sauce Nuoc Mam – one of it's essential ingredients.

Preparation of the sauce

Nuoc Mam Cham - this sauce, made essentially from fish sauce and lime juice, is arguably the national sauce of Vietnam. It is served at almost every meal and can be found in innumerable forms.


  1. Puree chili and garlic with a pinch of sugar in a mortar.
  2. Add lime juice, fish sauce and some more sugar and mix well.
  3. The sauce is served with a small pot of water and can be diluted more or less according to the consumer's taste.

Preparation of Ingredients

  1. Boil at least 5 dl of salted water in a pan. Add pork stomach and cook on low heat for 40 to 50 minutes. Take the pork out of the water and cool. Slice the meat into fine strips before arranging it on a small platter.
  2. Wash gherkin, halve it length-wise, deseed and chop into fine pieces. Scrape the skin off the carrots and slice them into long strips.
  3. Wash the salad, dry it well (best is to run it through salad dryer) and tear into leaves.
  4. Lay out salad leaves, gherkins, carrot sticks and mung bean sprouts on a serving plate and arrange the prawns on it.
  5. Boil 5 dl water and take it off the stove before adding glass noodles. Allow the noodles to cook in the boiling-hot water for 3 to 5 minutes, add salt, drain and put into a small bowl.
  6. Wash herbs (green coriander leaves, coriander stalks, Vietnamese coriander, mint and Thai basil), drain and dry well.
  7. Wash and clean spring onions, slice into slim circles, and put into a small bowl.
  8. Crush peanuts coarsely and put into a small bowl.


  1. Place the bowls of sauce and the rest of the ingredients on the table.
  2. Only just before the meal does one prepare the leaves or sheets of rice paper. One first dips them into cold water, then takes them out and shakes them well, after which one lays them out on rice-paper sieve mats. In a few seconds the leaves of rice paper absorb all the water and become soft, transparent and sticky. The mats allow them to be piled up. One can also hold up the pile vertically, when all the leaves have been laid out, in order to allow the excess water to drain out.
  3. The diners at the table now carefully peel off a leaf of rice paper from the pile, lay it out on a plate and proceed to fill it with the ingredients desired and make it into a roll - which is finally eaten after being dipped into the sauce.

One should take care not to put too much filling on the leaf of rice paper – because that can make it hard to turn it into a roll.

The ingredients for the Summer Rolls can be served in many different ways - it's nice to present them on a banana leave too.

More about the travel adventure of Secret Agent Hektor Maille:

On his way across Indo-China on different types of transportation, Hektor Maille found his menu reaching him in bits and pieces: While he enjoyed the main course in Siem Reap, he only got the starter much later in Ho Chi Minh City:

First Publication: 18-3-2010

Modifications: 25-1-2011, 19-6-2011, 15-11-2011, 14-12-2011