Asian/ Recipes/ Side Dish/ Snack

Tam Huu – Three Friends Spring Onion Rolls

10/06/2020 (Last Updated: 12/06/2020)

Like spring rolls without the rice paper, Tam Huu (Three Friends) is the magic combination of pork and prawn tied together with spring onion. They’re a colourful bite-sized taste of Vietnam and a pinch to make. Complete with an irresistible sweet and sour dipping sauce.

Plate of Tam Huu Spring Onion Rolls arranged around dipping sauce.

Why We Love This

While you may have come across spring rolls before, first with our Crispy Thai Spring Rolls and then with these Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls, I bet you haven’t come across paperless spring rolls. Instead of rice paper sheets, you use blanched spring onion leaves to tie each ‘roll’ together, creating a very visually pleasing appetiser.

We love the use of fresh ingredients that pack a flavour punch in just one bite, melding with the spice-infused marinade and sweet and sour dipping sauce.

Dipping a tam huu spring onion roll into the sweet and sour dipping sauce.

What is Tam Huu? 

Tam Huu (Three Friends) is a type of Vietnamese Spring Roll, it uses a combination of meat and herbs with spring onion to form little rolls that don’t use rice paper.

Discovered in a 300 year old herb village in Hoi An, Vietnam, Tam Huu is a spring roll like no other. Made without a wrapper, it’s bound with a spring onion leaf to show off the beautiful ingredients.

The ‘three friends’ are the three main ingredients, and they’re a match made in heaven: garlicky marinated pork strips, juicy prawns with fresh garden herbs.

Next, the trick to keeping them together is all in the spring onion. Be sure to watch our video for a step-by-step guide on tying them. While making them may look fiddly, it’s an easy technique anyone can master!

  • Take up a blanched spring onion leaf
  • Pinch some mint and coriander at the base
  • Add in a piece of pork and prawn
  • Wrap around with the rest of the onion leaf

Too easy! The end result looks so good you’d never think they’d be so easy to make. The final step was to garnish with pretty edible flowers to give them a nice splash of colour. But we think a nice thin slice of fresh chilli or capsicum would do the job perfectly with an added spicy hit. Win win!

What You’ll Need

While the recipe looks like a lot, some ingredients are doubled up as they’re used in both the marinade for the meat and for the sweet and sour dipping sauce. Don’t let this scare you off!

Ingredients laid out for tam huu and the sweet and sour dipping sauce.

Tumeric

Tumeric is a golden yellow spice that originates from the ginger family. It’s a common ingredient used in Asian recipes, especially in Vietnamese cuisine with dishes like Banh Xeo. The spice is usually used powdered and gives a slightly bitter, peppery taste with a mustard aroma. This is widely available in supermarkets or online.

Curry Powder

There are many styles of curry powder available, ranging from mild to hot in spice level. For this dish, you can use any curry powder you have on hand. The flavour results will only vary slightly, and we’d rather you use what you have rather than go out to buy a slightly different version for just one dish. You should find curry powder at your supermarket, or you can purchase online.

Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is a powerful, intensely flavoured ingredient ready to add a savoury flavour boost to your cooking. While the smell is pungent to say the least, it adds a salty note to the dish, so think of it more like an umami style stock and not fish flavouring!

We usually have Squid Brand or Three Crabs fish sauce in the cupboard. You should be able to find fish sauce in the Asian aisle of your local supermarket, or at an Asian supermarket. Otherwise, it’s also available online.

If you need to substitute, we recommend using soy sauce, which is made from soybeans and wheat. It’s also a great alternative for vegans. 

Rice Vinegar

Like the name implies, this vinegar is made from rice through fermentation. Unlike regular white vinegar, it’s sweeter and less acidic. The varieties found at Asian supermarkets are usually Chinese or Japanese in origin and are fine to use for this recipe, or you can purchase online.

If you can’t find rice vinegar, you can substitute with apple cider vinegar. If you’re in a real pinch, you can use lemon juice or regular vinegar but both will alter the taste slightly.

Lemongrass

A hardy stalk from the grass family, lemongrass is super popular in South East Asian cooking. It has a citrus flavour that’s closer to lemon in aroma.

You’ll find bunches of fresh lemongrass stalks at Asian supermarkets, or we’ve found them dried or in jars at our local supermarket. You can also buy it in paste form or dried online.

An easy substitute for this is lemon rind/zest or lemon juice if you’re in a squeeze.

How to make Tam Huu:

Place the fish sauce, sugar, curry powder, turmeric, shallots, lemongrass and garlic in a bowl and stir well.

Pour half the marinade over the pork and the remaining half over the prawns, mixing through to make sure both are well coated. Allow the pork and prawns to marinate for at least 5 minutes.

Marinating prawns ready to cook.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil. Blanch the spring onion in the boiling water for a minute or once the leaves turn bright green and soften. Don’t let them overcook or they’ll be too soft and might break apart when you go to wrap your rolls.

Blanching spring onions in boiling water.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add the marinated pork and stir fry for around 2 minutes. Remove from the pan, then add the marinated shrimp and continue to stir fry for a few more minutes until cooked through.

Stir frying the pork strips in the marinade.

To assemble the spring onion rolls:

Peel off one spring onion leaf (1) and grasp at the white end.

Place coriander and mint near the base of the leaf (2).

Add a piece of pork, one shrimp and the peony flower or slice of chilli (3), then wrap up using the rest of the spring onion leaf (4).

Tuck the last section of the spring onion leaf under a previous fold, just like a bandage (5). Done! (6)

Step by step on how to assemble the spring onion rolls.

To make the sweet and sour sauce:

Place all ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small bowl. Serve immediately.

Stirring the Vietnamese sweet and sour sauce.

Wandercook’s Tips

  • If you find the spring onions fill up with air when blanched, you can cut off the ends so the air can escape.
  • For a nice presentation, place one mint sprig facing up and the other facing down when you assemble your Spring Onion Rolls.
  • If you can’t get hold of edible flowers, garnish with a strip of fresh chilli or even capsicum. You can also omit this step altogether.

FAQs

What cut of pork works best?

We used and recommend pork loin for Tam Huu. It usually comes in a single long piece, so it’s easy to cut it into strips. If you can’t find pork strips, try pork fillet or leg. Using these cuts of pork will give you a nice tender result.
If you prefer not to use pork at all, you can replace with beef stir fry strips (top loin or sirloin).

How should I present the spring onion rolls for serving?

On a large plate, pop the sweet and sour dipping sauce in the middle with the tam huu placed around the outside in a circle formation. It looks great for presentation, and makes it easy for everyone to grab a piece and dip it in.

When should I marinate the meat?

While the meat only requires a minimum of 5 minutes to marinate, you can prepare them the day before and leave to marinate overnight. This is great for extra flavour and saving time on the day if you have other dishes to prepare.

Variations & Substitutes

  • Some places in Vietnam add extra fillings such as tofu, egg and vermicelli noodles.
  • If spring onion is too tricky, feel free to wrap in a lettuce leaf instead.
Close up of a tam huu spring onion roll.

More Vietnamese inspiration to get you cookin’ in the kitchen:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating below!

Tam Huu – Three Friends Spring Onion Rolls

Like spring rolls without the rice paper, Tam Hữu (Three Friends) is the magic combination of pork and prawn tied together with spring onion. They’re a colourful bite-sized taste of Vietnam and a pinch to make. Complete with an irresistible sweet and sour dipping sauce.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Course: Appetiser, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Servings: 20 rolls
Calories: 63kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $15

Ingredients

  • 250 g pork sliced into thin 5 cm strips
  • 250 g shrimp washed, peeled, tails removed (about 25 prawns)
  • 10-20 spring onion full leaves, roots removed but otherwise kept whole
  • 1 handful mint fresh
  • 1 handful coriander fresh
  • 1 handful edible flowers garnish. Alt garnish: red chilli or capsicum, sliced into julienne strips
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

The Marinade

Sweet & Sour Dipping Sauce

Instructions

  • Place the fish sauce, sugar, curry powder, turmeric, shallots, lemongrass and garlic in a bowl and stir well.
  • Pour half the marinade over the pork and the remaining half over the prawns, mixing through to make sure both are well coated. Allow the pork and prawns to marinate for at least 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil. Blanch the spring onion in the boiling water for a minute or once the leaves turn bright green and soften. Don’t let them overcook or they'll be too soft and might break apart when you go to wrap your rolls.
  • Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add the marinated pork and stir fry for around 2 minutes. Remove from the pan, then add the marinated shrimp and continue to stir fry for a few more minutes until cooked through.

To Assemble the Spring Onion Rolls:

  • Peel off one spring onion leaf and grasp at the white end.
  • Place mint and coriander near the base of the leaf.
  • Add a piece of pork, one shrimp and (optional) edible flower or slice of chilli, then wrap up using the rest of the spring onion leaf.
  • Tuck the last section of the spring onion leaf under a previous fold, just like a bandage. Done!

For the dipping sauce:

  • Place all ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small bowl.
  • Serve immediately.

Video

Notes

Wandercook’s Tips
  • If you find the spring onions fill up with air when blanched, you can cut off the ends so the air can escape.
  • For a nice presentation, place one mint sprig facing up and the other facing down when you assemble your Spring Onion Rolls.
  • If you can’t get hold of edible flowers, garnish with a strip of fresh chilli or even capsicum. You can also omit this step altogether.
FAQs
  • What cut of pork works best? We used and recommend pork loin for Tam Huu. It usually comes in a single long piece, so it’s easy to cut it into strips. If you can’t find pork strips, try pork fillet or leg. Using these cuts of pork will give you a nice tender result.
    If you prefer not to use pork at all, you can replace with beef stir fry strips (top loin or sirloin).
  • How should I present the spring onion rolls for serving? On a large plate, pop the sweet and sour dipping sauce in the middle with the tam huu placed around the outside in a circle formation. It looks great for presentation, and makes it easy for everyone to grab a piece and dip it in.
  • When should I marinate the meat? While the meat only requires a minimum of 5 minutes to marinate, you can prepare them the day before and leave to marinate overnight. This is great for extra flavour and saving time on the day if you have other dishes to prepare.
Variations & Substitutes
  • Some places in Vietnam add extra fillings such as tofu, egg and vermicelli noodles.
  • If spring onion is too tricky, feel free to wrap in a lettuce leaf instead.

Nutrition

Calories: 63kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 459mg | Potassium: 83mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 71IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg
Hey hey – Did you make this recipe?We’d love it if you could give a star rating below ★★★★★ and show us your creations on Instagram! Snap a pic and tag @wandercooks / #Wandercooks

Adapted from Tra Que Water Wheel, Hoi An, Vietnam. Originally published 2015. Refreshed post and simplified recipe and added more variations and substitutions for you guys.

Tam Huu – Three Friends Spring Onion Rolls

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24 Comments

  • Reply
    Jasmine
    21/04/2016 at 1:42 pm

    5 stars
    Thank you for sharing! I love the idea using chilli instead of peony flower. I’m gonna try it someday :3 I wonder is there anything could replace spring onion leaf because the kids may not like them.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      22/04/2016 at 9:50 am

      Thanks for the feedback Jasmine! As for a spring onion replacement, perhaps the kids could put their’s in small lettuce cups – which would be easier for them to wrap and eat!

  • Reply
    nicole (thespicetrain.com)
    01/01/2016 at 5:15 am

    5 stars
    These are so cute! What a great idea! 🙂

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      01/01/2016 at 2:20 pm

      Thanks Nicole – yes, so unique! A lot easier to wrap than rice paper too haha

  • Reply
    David @ I Ate The Whole Thing
    31/12/2015 at 3:32 pm

    I saw this on Tasteologies and was so enchanted and amused by their appearance. Such a clever idea to do a wrapper-less spring roll and use a blanched green onion to bind it all. I have been craving spring rolls lately and have rice wrappers in the pantry calling my name, but they might have to wait a little while longer; I might be making these very soon. Any time mint, cilantro/coriander, and any meat come together I am so there. Great recipe!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      31/12/2015 at 9:20 pm

      Ohh yes, us too. Can’t get enough of spring rolls no matter what form they take! These ones are such a quirky little snack – will definitely make an excellent New Year’s Day recovery bite haha 😉

      • Reply
        Anh Kim Tran
        05/03/2019 at 3:34 am

        In hai Phong city, you can get these. But it has pork belly, shrimp, egg, fried tofu, lettuce, mint, other herbs, rice noodles all binded with a spring onion strand. It sound like a lot is in it and it sound like it’s a full size spring roll. But somehow they make it into a sushi size …a perfect mouthful of deliciousness.

        • Reply
          Wandercooks
          07/03/2019 at 2:23 pm

          Oh wow that sounds incredible, we have to try that sometime! Hai Phong looks like such a beautiful place too. We miss being in Vietnam so much. Thanks for stopping by! ☺️

  • Reply
    Diana
    23/12/2015 at 5:22 pm

    5 stars
    Paperless spring rolls? interesting! and the pictures are gorgeous!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      23/12/2015 at 7:46 pm

      Thanks Diana, yeah who knew? They’re even less fiddly than normal spring rolls which is a real win in our books. 🙂

  • Reply
    Tash
    23/12/2015 at 6:08 am

    5 stars
    These are SO beautiful! I would alllmost feel bad eating them 😉 Thanks for sharing such a gorgeous recipe!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      23/12/2015 at 7:45 pm

      Our pleasure! 🙂 Unfortunately these pretty little things didn’t last long on our table haha.

  • Reply
    Megan Stevens
    23/12/2015 at 4:09 am

    This is so pretty and scrumptious!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      23/12/2015 at 7:44 pm

      Agreed! 😀

  • Reply
    Andrea Fabry
    23/12/2015 at 3:39 am

    5 stars
    I’ve not tried anything like this before! I’m inspired. Thank you so much for such detail in your instructions!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      23/12/2015 at 7:43 pm

      Thanks Andrea, definitely give them a go and let us know what you think!

  • Reply
    Emily @ Recipes to Nourish
    23/12/2015 at 3:02 am

    Wow those are beautiful! Always love your photos. Love seeing your adventures there.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      23/12/2015 at 7:42 pm

      Thanks Emily. Definitely recommend this side of the world for a holiday. It’s a culinary journey beyond belief! One of our favourites that’s for sure. 🙂

  • Reply
    Karen
    23/12/2015 at 2:01 am

    5 stars
    YUMMMM! Love the combo of pork and shrimp! So pretty too!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      23/12/2015 at 2:05 am

      They go so well together, especially with the spices and herbs!

  • Reply
    linda spiker
    23/12/2015 at 1:46 am

    Oh wow! Amazing. Pinning and sharing. Love!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      23/12/2015 at 2:04 am

      Thanks Linda! Glad you love it. Happy pinning (and cooking) 🙂

  • Reply
    Susie
    23/12/2015 at 12:46 am

    These look delicious and so simple to make! Definitely adding to my “to-try” list.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      23/12/2015 at 12:50 am

      That’s great Susie, hope you enjoy!

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