Very versatile and flavorful, Vietnamese spring rolls are a healthy and simple meal for any time of the day. With the nice crunch from the vegetables and the savoriness of the meat, paired with the delectable sauce, spring rolls are a unique way to add a little freshness to your day. There are so many varieties you can make that are suitable for various palettes and many ingredients you can experiment with.

People often purchase spring rolls at grocery stores or restaurants, but they are easy to make at home, and you can customize them however you want. To get started, follow these four steps to achieve a scrumptious spring roll.

Step 1: Rice Paper

Rice paper wrappers are the essence of a Vietnamese spring roll—it’s what makes a spring roll a spring roll. To prepare one, simply submerge the rice paper into a bowl of room-temperature water and, once the whole sheet is saturated, immediately remove it. Make sure to add your filling promptly to avoid the rice paper from tearing apart when you roll it.

Step 2: Herbs and Vegetables

This is what makes a spring roll healthy, and depending on how much you add, your spring roll can basically become a salad. Most spring rolls have lettuce, but any leafy vegetable or spring mix will do. Herbs are optional, but growing up in a household that grew fresh herbs in our backyard, I suggest adding them for a beautifully rich aromatic flavor. I recommend mint, Vietnamese coriander, perilla leaves, fish mint (heart leaves), or Chinese chives, if you can find them. Include some cucumbers to add a satisfying crunch and slices of pickled carrot and radish for a nice tanginess.

Step 3: Protein

There are an endless number of options to customize your spring roll, but here are just a few of my favorite protein choices.

An easy ingredient to add, eggs are great if you don’t have much time to spare. The creaminess of the egg pairs perfectly with strips of sausage or Vietnamese ham. Another meat I highly recommend is pork belly—this is a family favorite and we often eat it on special occasions.

If you love seafood, grilled or baked salmon, tilapia, or other fish fillet are great additions. Boiled or grilled shrimp, a classic ingredient for spring rolls, works just as well.

For vegans, I recommend crispy fried tofu. If you have time, a vegetable stir-fry with jicama, mushrooms, carrots, or other ingredients of your choice will add great texture and flavor to your spring roll.

#SpoonTip: You can put anything you want in your spring roll: there are no limitations. Experiment with outside-of-the-box flavor combinations and you might just stumble upon something unexpectedly delicious.

Step 4: Dip Into Your Sauces

In my personal opinion, the sauce determines the quality of a dish—or in this case, Vietnamese spring roll. Thus, here are two recipes that will go well with almost any spring roll.

First is the classic Vietnamese fish sauce. It’s imperative that you prepare the sauce properly. Here is my mother’s fish sauce recipe, which she typically makes in bulk: first, add one cup of sugar, two cups of water, and one cup of fish sauce. Heat this up, and let the mixture boil for one minute, then turn off the heat. Once cooled down, add minced garlic, chopped Thai chili pepper (for an optional spice kick), and a generous amount of lemon or lime juice, depending on your preferences. If vegan, substitute the fish sauce mixture with soy sauce and add a bit of sugar. Besides spring rolls, you could use this sauce for a Vermicelli noodle dish or as a dip for your veggies.

My personal favorite is the Thai peanut sauce. It’s very simple to make. Add two parts peanut butter (or any nut butter) and one part hoisin sauce. Next, add water until it’s the consistency you like, and then a couple spoons of soy sauce to taste. This recipe depends on your preferences, and you should taste as you go.

Each sauce complements different spring rolls, depending on the protein. For vegan, shrimp, egg, and sausage spring rolls, I recommend the creamy sweetness of the peanut sauce. The savory fish sauce pairs better with pork belly or fish spring rolls.

There are other Vietnamese sauces out there too, but these two are the most common and the easiest to make. As you grow accustomed to the spring roll world, don’t be afraid to branch out and explore other sauces.

Step 5: Optional Carbs

If you’re an avid spring roll consumer, then you would know that many spring rolls have vermicelli rice noodles in them. Adding this creates that great chewy rice flavor, but it is completely optional.

#SpoonTip: If you love Vietnamese food, then this is for you. Rolling some ban xeo (a savory, stuffed Vietnamese crepe) or a fried egg or spring roll into a fresh spring roll is a phenomenal and creative way to enjoy these dishes.

In my experience, Vietnamese spring rolls are not only easy to make but are a fun activity to do with friends and family. With a variety of ingredients across the table, each person can customize their spring roll however they want and are free to eat it however they wish. It’s easy, relatively inexpensive, and a great way to grow closer with your loved ones.