Recipe: What to do with Vegetarian Bahn Cuon | Vietnamese Rice Rolls

One of the typically Asian things that I love is the beautiful and delicate rice rolls. But it can be confusing – how are these lovely rice rolls used?

You might also like What to Do with Deep Fried Tofu, Thai Eggplant with Sesame and Soy, and Vietnamese Summer Rolls. You may like to browse our other SE Asian recipes here and here, or our Summer recipes here and here.


When you buy bahn cuon, look for the plain ones or vegetarian ones if you are vegetarian – look closely as you may encounter ones that include dried prawns. However, locally, a maker makes ones that have the wonderful colours of chives and grated vegetables in the rolls.

In Vietnamese Bánh means pastry and Cuốn means rolled, so as far as indicating its origin or how to use them, the name is quite enigmatic. The rice sheet in bánh cuốn is extremely thin and delicate. It is made by steaming a slightly fermented rice batter on a cloth that is stretched over a pot of boiling water. It is a light dish, and is generally eaten for breakfast everywhere in Vietnam. Generally filled with non-vegetarian ingredients, and using a non-vegetarian dipping sauce, the vegetarian versions are harder to know how to use.

My method is to steam them until heated through, then top the warm rolls with chopped herbs and veggies, and serve them with a dipping sauce. Play with your own favourite sauces and include other Asian style toppings. Think chopped peanuts, crispy fried onions, toasted sesame seeds, crispy fried rice vermicelli.


Rice Rolls

Source: My own recipe
Cuisine: Asian – Chinese and Vietnamese
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 5 mins
Serves: 6 or more people

Wok or large saucepan
Steaming basket

250g packet of Banh Cuon – Rice Rolls

Sesame oil – just a tspn or 2
Hoisin Sauce or a light soy
Hua Tiao Chiew (a Chinese rice cooking wine) or Chinese black vinegar
Sweet chilli sauce
green coriander, chopped
Chinese chives, chopped
bean sprouts
grated carrot
grated diakon (white) radish
spring (green) onions, sliced
Chinese dried Woodear Mushrooms, soaked for 10 minutes and then sliced (optional)

071001-023.jpgBoil a little water in the bottom of a wok or deep pan. Place the rolls on a plate inside the steamer and cover with the steamer lid. Place the steamer with the rolls into the wok or pan, ensuring it sits over the boiling water. Steam for 5 minutes or until they are warmed through and silky shiny.

Meanwhile, combine the soy, sesame oil, Hua Tiao Chiew and sweet chilli sauce, mixing the quantities to suit your taste.

When the noodles are done, divide them between plates, sprinkle the chopped herbs, bean sprouts, carrot, daikon, sliced mushrooms and green onions over the rolls. Spoon the sauce over them, and serve.

If you like you can heat a little sesame oil, just a Tblspn or so, and pour the hot oil over the top of the rolls and toppings before you add the sauce. In this case, there is no need to add extra sesame oil to the sauce.

You can eat them alone, but if you wanted more, a lovely Asian salad would work well. Throw any left over herbs into the salad.


This is cross posted with our sister site, A Life Time of Cooking. It appears here as part of the How To series.