Here in Texas, our cuisine often has a reputation for being quite stodgy and meat-heavy. And while we have nothing against your grandma’s chunky chili or a Texas-style casserole, it’s nice to mix things up with a light and fresh option. These lemongrass-infused Vietnamese-inspired vegan spring rolls make the perfect healthy snack or appetizer. But you could also pair them with a soup or salad to make them the main event! And with our secret twist, they are 100% vegan and 100% delicious.
So, what’s our secret ingredient? Find out below!
The history of Vietnamese spring rolls
When you think of spring rolls, you might think of the deep-fried variety that you can find at many Asian restaurants. In Vietnamese cooking, spring rolls refer to fresh, rice paper rolls that are the perfect balance between sweet, sour, spicy, and salty. As with most Vietnamese dishes, they are light, fresh and incorporate lemongrass, mint, and basil for a total flavor explosion.
It’s not known precisely where the original recipe came from in Vietnam since each region does its spring rolls a bit differently. In central Vietnam, the recipes are typically more on the spicy side, while in the north, they focus on sour flavors. Regardless of where you go, these rolls are a staple in Vietnamese cuisine.
Most of the traditional recipes contain shrimp, pork, or beef. But you can still achieve the same flavor profile without using any meat.
What ingredients are in our vegan spring rolls?
While these lemongrass spring rolls often contain beef, we’ve made a game-changing swap: vegan jerky. And not just any vegan jerky. We’ve included our Prickly Pear Teriyaki Jerky, which adds a whole new flavor element to the traditional recipe.
Buy Prickly Pear Teriyaki Jerky
The base of this recipe uses fragrant lemongrass sauteed with onions and simmered with vegetable broth to create a marinade for the vegan jerky. The marinade soaks beautifully into the jerky, infusing it with moisture and the fresh flavor of lemongrass, which compliments the teriyaki. You definitely won’t be missing the beef in this recipe when you substitute it for our protein-packed jerky.
The great thing about these rolls is that you can use just about any fresh veggies you have on hand for the rest of the filling. We recommend cucumbers (cut into matchsticks), shredded purple cabbage, lettuce, fresh mint, and basil leaves. But you can also add in other vegetables such as carrots or red bell pepper if you want; the more color, the better!
If you’re someone who eats with your eyes, then vegan spring rolls will soon become your go-to snack or appetizer. All the vibrant colors of the fresh vegetables will make your rolls look like little rainbows.
Last but not least, you’ll need rice paper wrappers, which are quite easy to find these days. They are available at almost any Asian market or the Asian section of your local grocery store.
Dipping sauces for your vegan spring rolls
Now for what is arguably the most important part of any dish: the dipping sauce. These lemongrass “beef” spring rolls will be tasty on their own, but you can’t beat a good dipping sauce.
For the dipping sauce, you can play around based on what kind of flavors you like, but our favorite is this five-spice peanut sauce. Vietnamese cuisine often contains peanuts, whether as part dishes or as a garnish. This version also uses Chinese five-spice, which gives it an extra kick. It’s easy to make and uses only a few ingredients, including peanut butter, tamari, maple syrup, lime juice, and garlic.
You can also try these vegan spring rolls with vegan fish sauce or sweet chili sauce.
Assembling your lemongrass “beef” spring rolls
Assembling these vegan spring rolls might seem daunting, but it’s actually very straightforward. First, you’ll want to set up your work surface. We like to use a cutting board to assemble our rolls, but you’ll want to make sure it’s slightly damp to prevent the wraps from sticking to it. You could also roll them on a damp towel.
Once you have all your ingredients prepared, then you’ll need to soften the rice paper before you can roll them. For the perfect consistency, soak the rice paper in a bowl of slightly warm water for a couple of seconds. If the paper is becoming too soft, your water may be too warm. It is okay if the paper is slightly stiff when you take it out of the water because it will continue to get softer once you have it on your cutting board.
Then, you’re all ready to add your fillings, roll up the paper, and enjoy! One last tip is to prep extra ingredients ahead of time and keep them in your fridge so you can enjoy some more rolls later (we guarantee you’ll want more!)
Lemongrass "Beef" Spring Rolls Recipe
Lemongrass "Beef" Spring Rolls
- 1 small onion diced
- 1/2 cup minced lemongrass
- 2 tsps neutral oil such as grapeseed or avocado
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 2 bags All Y'alls Prickly Pear Teriyaki Jerky
- 1 pack rice paper wrappers found at the Asian market
- 1 bowl warm water
- 2 Persian cucumbers cut into long sticks
- 5 oz box of any kind of mixed baby greens or romaine lettuce
- 1/2 head of purple cabbage shredded
- Mint and basil leaves washed and drained
- Five spice peanut sauce for serving (can also use vegan fish dipping sauce, AKA nước mắm chấm chay)
- In a medium saucepan on high heat, saute the onion and lemongrass in the oil until fragrant.
- Add the vegan jerky and vegetable broth to the pan, tossing to coat.
- Turn the heat to low-medium, cover the pan, and let the jerky simmer in the broth until it has soaked up the liquid completely. Turn the stove off and set the jerky aside to use in the assembly of the spring rolls.
- To assemble the rolls, gather all the ingredients, have the warm water bowl nearby, and a flat rolling surface (a big plate or a wooden cutting board works). Check out the video (above) for a visual guide if needed. Dip a rice paper wrapper into the bowl of water, rotating the whole wrapper once, to ensure the wrapper is moist all around. Lay the wrapper flat on a plate or cutting board. Arrange the fillings on the wrapper: greens, veggies, cucumbers, herbs to your taste, and a few pieces of lemongrass jerky. Tuck and roll, and repeat!