Eggrolls

Crisphy cha gio on top of a bed of vermicelli

Cha gio, or Vietnamese eggrolls: one of my favorite things to eat. I can make 100 of them and nibble on them every day for weeks. I never get tired of this homemade version which is a recipe I modeled after my own mother’s. And you know mama’s home cookin’ is the best kind of cookin’ they is.

My mom used to make these as a treat every once in awhile, and they’re so good that I don’t even eat them with nuoc cham, or the fish dipping sauce that is a staple condiment for many Vietnamese. I prefer the eggrolls virgin, untouched and unmarred by any any additional sauce or lettuce or vermicelli. Of course, eating them this way makes them disappear much quicker, so I like to feed them to others with a bowl of vermicelli (bun cha gio).

This recipe is not exactly my mothers–she passed away when I was 14, an age before I became interested in cooking. But of the dozens of Saturday mornings I spent in the kitchen peeling eggroll skin after eggroll skin for her, I got to “know” the ingredients by sight and smell. It sounds a little sick, but I loved inhaling the aromatic raw meat and vegetable mixture that is to become the eggroll filling. As a matter of fact, I still do that today when I make eggrolls–that’s the only way I know if the mixture needs more fish sauce or garlic or whatever.

So eggrolls being one of the things I missed most from my mama’s kitchen after she died, I came up with my own concoction that, if my memory doesn’t fail me, tastes incredibly similar to hers. Now if only I was talented enough to figure out her homemade pho from scratch.

Eggrolls contain pork, but one time in elementary school for an international culture week, my mom substituted the ground pork with turkey because I had a Muslim classmate. Now that I have a husband who avoids beef and pork, I too make my eggrolls with ground turkey. They’re not as juicy but they’re healthier. (Well, as healthy as they can be after being submerged in the canola oil.).

I must say cha gio are my masterpiece, but they’re only made like once a year because the whole process–from chopping the veggies to wrapping the eggrolls to frying them–used to take six hours or something insane. Thank God for the food processor, which now has cut my prep and cook time down to a mere four hours. (Har, har.) Don’t let that scare you away from attempting them though; keep in mind that I’m a slow worker, not to mention blind. So remember that if I can do it, so can you. Plus in the recipe below, I’ve cut it by half, so it should only take a couple of hours. But I promise, they’re totally worth it.

Recipe: Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls

Notes: The folding technique is as follows: if using the square eggroll wrappers, set the skin so that it is a diamond in front of you. Set the filling in the lower center of the skin. Fold the corner pointing at you up over the mixture. Then fold in the two sides. Then roll eggroll away from you, sealing the far corner with a little bit of beaten egg. If using round rice paper for skin, simply wet the banh trang in a lg. bowl of very hot water. It just needs to be immersed for a few seconds; don’t oversoak–the paper will get more and more pliable as it soaks up the water. Oversoaking the rice paper results in mushy skin that will tear easily. Place the circular skin in front of you, place the filling in the lower center of the skin. Fold in the same pattern as with the square skins, but omitting the beaten egg for sealing. The authentic Vietnamese eggroll uses rice paper for the skin, but many use the Filipino lumpia eggroll skin nowadays. Just be sure not to use the Chinese eggroll skin; I made that mistake the first time I ever made eggrolls (yes, back in college), and the skin puffed up like a wonton crisp, which is NOT what you want.< /p>

Ingredients

    For the filling:

  1. 1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  2. 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  3. 2 ozs wood ear mushrooms, reconstituted as needed
  4. 4 ozs bean thread noodles, reconstituted as needed
  5. 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  6. 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  7. 1/4 lb shrimp, peeled
  8. 1/2 lb ground pork
  9. 2 to 3 tbsp fish sauce
  10. 1 egg, lightly beaten
  11. For the wrapper shell:

  12. 1 (50-ct) pkg spring roll wrappers or rice paper
  13. 1 egg, lightly beaten (if using spring roll wrappers)
  14. oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Make filling: In a food pro, combine onion, carrot, mushroom, and noodles; pulse until finely chopped and transfer to bowl. Add shallot, garlic, and shrimp to food pro; purée until smooth. Mix together chopped veg, shrimp mixture, pork, fish sauce, and egg; season with pepper. Cover and chill at least 1h.
  2. Wrap rolls: If using spring/egg roll wrappers, wrap and use egg to seal. If using rice paper: Reconstitute rice paper and wrap.
  3. Fry rolls: In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil to 350°F. Fry until golden and crisp; drain on wire racks lined with paper towels.

Active time: 2h
Total time: 2h 30m
Yields: 50 spring rolls

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5 Discussion to this post

  1. dark mark says:

    mmmmm….i absolutely love me some eggrolls, from filipino style lumpia to thien an's EXCELLENT cha gio. i think i need to try yours if they are as good as you say they are. not a fan of viet eggrolls in lumpa wrappers though. they HAVE to have all the little bubbly stuff all over it.

  2. Food chick says:

    Thank you for the article. I've been branching out on my food choices lately, variety is the spice of life after all. Vietnamese food looks great, will give this a go!

  3. Jenny says:

    Thanks for the Recipe Christine!
    I would like to wish you and your family a prosperity Lunar New Year!!

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