The Papa Bear always tells me that I don't quite have Vietnamese food right and that my favorite dishes aren't really a good representation of what Vietnamese food is all about. But boy, on these hot summer nights, there's nothing as refreshing as the Vietnamese wraps! So what if it's really supposed to be an appetizer?! To me, go?i cuo^'n is the quintessential summer refreshment on those days when it's just too hot to eat anything else! And yes, some of my meals consist solely of these wraps!
My lovely culinary friend Melissa recently had a 'wrap' party for the end of her roommate's stay in the US and her own time living in San Francisco, and for this 'wrap'-themed party, two of us independently showed up with all the goodies for Vietnamese 'fresh' rolls! I'm not quite sure what the English name for these rolls really are - I've heard them called Spring rolls, Summer rolls, Fresh rolls, and who knows what other kind of rolls they are known as! But basically, it is a whole bunch of greens and herbs wrapped around a reconstituted rice paper sheet with bean sprouts, rice/bean noodles, pork, shrimp, and whatever else that might strike your fancy.
A variety of sauces are used for dipping, although three main types come to mind - the citrus-y sweet fish sauce, the peanut sauce, and the most advanced shrimp-paste lemongrass pineapple sauce. I fell in love with the last sauce the first time I had it, and every time I've had Vietnamese wraps, I've made or asked for this sauce. It's quite potent, and if done poorly, can have that primordial fishy smell. But done correctly, the combination of the salty fermented shrimp paste with the refreshing sweetness of the pineapple and the palate-cleansing strength of lemongrass make this sauce one of the most flavorful things I've ever consumed.
And you know the best part of having Vietnamese rolls? No matter what kind of BM trouble I'd been having, the day after a dinner of these guys - I'm CLEANED inside out. I highly recommend overdosing on Vietnamese rolls for anyone suffering from constipation. Works like a charm every time!