My friend, Jana, likes to recreate her favorite restaurant foods at home.  She does this so she will be able to enjoy her favorites when she moves back to the states.  She showed me recently how to make one of her newer discoveries – fresh spring rolls.  She likes making these at home because of the flavors, the smell of fresh herbs and they are healthy.

Jana got her Spring Roll recipe from the book Real Thai – The Best of Thailand’s Regional Cooking by Nancie McDermott.  The Vietnamese name for them is Goi Cuon – a hearty noodle salad wrapped in rice paper.  What I found most fascinating is the the main ingredient in this “wrap” is tapioca.  As Jana mentions below she was able to find this “hearty noodle” or rice paper at the commissary.

Spring Roll rice sheet

The large, cracker textured rice paper must be submerged into hot water for 5 seconds to soften it up.

Spring Roll example

After softening this wrap you just lay it directly on your counter and start filling it with fresh ingredients.  This is the really fun part and Jana’s son even likes to help make them and eat them.  Fun food is the best food to make.

Spring Rolls wrap

Here are all the ingredients for the perfect spring roll.

Spring Roll sauces

The Thai serve their rolls with the same sweet-sour dipping sauce that accompanies Fried Spring Rolls.  The author of the cook book prefers how many Vietnamese restaurants in the U.S. serve them – with hoisin sauce sprinkled with ground peanuts and spiked with fiery Vietnamese chili sauce called tuong ot toi.

Sprig Roll finished Even someone like me, who doesn’t like to cook, can manage to create something yummy under heavy supervision.  I must warn you, you have to tuck your sides in well or end up with a monster of a roll.

Since we were already in Jana’s kitchen I thought I’d ask her a few food relate questions!!!

Do you like to cook and why?  I do like to cook because my husband gets great enjoyment out of eating and so do I.  We like our mealtime to be relaxing, enjoyable and it’s our family time.  We really want to savor our meals – it’s not just a time to eat and rush off to the next thing.  I think I acquired this after living in Europe.  It’s the European way – their pace of life is slower and you were never rushed at any restaurant.

What is your favorite meal to cook?  I like to look through my cookbooks and cooking magazines and try new recipes.  The weirdest thing I have cooked was a pumpkin pasta dish that was served in a pumpkin and my husband actually liked it.

What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?  I like to use fresh herbs and spices because I love the aroma that they give off while I’m cutting them.  If I had to pick one favorite ingredient I would say it’s fresh cilantro.

Where do you buy your unique ingredients?  For this particular recipe I was able to find all the ingredients at the commissary.  Though, A-Price is a great place to buy bulk-size spices that you may not find at the commissary.

Advice for a cook just getting started:  Don’t make a new recipe for a house full of guests. And, open up a cook book and choose a recipe that sounds yummy and try it.

If you’re interested in trying a spring roll without making it yourself you can get them at either Thai in the Sky or Khrua Thai.  Whether you choose to eat out or eat in, enjoy!


  1. I love the unfried version of spring rolls (your guys’ look awesome!), but I grew up eating my mom’s fried ones, so those will always be close to my heart. =) just wanted to say that plum sauce is also really yummo with spring rolls. the fried ones you use rice paper rolls instead of tapioca paper rolls (and the rolls taste sooo much better when you buy them at max value instead of the commi!)

  2. THANK YOU JANA, Boy do I feel foolish, I guess my eyes skipped over the phrase (main ingredient in the spring roll wrapper) and thought one of the things to put inside a wrap is tapioca. now you know why Larissa and kitchen aren’t usually spoken in a single sentence. She did eat some odd meals growing up. I have seen the spring roll wrappers in the produce section but ususally where they can keep them chilled a bit. Cilantro was mistaken as parsley, sorry! Going to work on making these they look so good. Thanks for extra help. Judy M

  3. I went to a party where this was the make your own meal. We all brought an ingredient to share. It was awesome. However, everytime I go to the commissary I look but can’t find the wrappers. Where exactly are they located? We had portabelo mushrooms, avacado, green papapya, mango, shrimp, crab, teriyaki pork, cucumber, sprouts, bamboo shoots. That is what I can remember but we had more. WONDERFUL!!

  4. Tapioca flour, not tapioca pearls to make the wrapper.
    I have never used celery or parsley in mine – usually lots of lettuce/raw cabbage, bean sprouts, extra-fine julienned carrots, thai basil, and a couple large shrimp stretched out straight. A long slice of fresh mango is yummy in there too.

  5. Looks like you had celery, flat leaf parsley, shrimp, water chestnuts???, a few other unidentified items, but for the life of me I did not see any tapioca, do you make it like for pudding then use it as a filler (sweet or unsweet). The rolls look really good and I’d like to try them, looks like you roll as if making a burrito. Thanks for more instruction. Judy Mom