A lot of people are familiar with vietnamese fresh spring rolls—soft rice paper wrapper, some shrimp or meat, lettuce, vermicelli noodles, and carrots. But when you use the same rice paper to make spring rolls—the results are bomb! It’s like having a crispy cracker wrapped around some juicy meat filling. So good!
Also known as nem rán, Vietnamese spring rolls are usually wrapped in rice paper wrapper, then deep fried. The rice paper becomes super dooper crispy after frying, and is great contrast against the moist meat inside, and the fresh, crunchy lettuce outside of the spring roll.
If you’re using any piece of meat, a good ratio of fat vs lean meat is good to keep the spring rolls nice and juicy inside. For the meat, I used ground chicken thighs—unusual because ground chicken is mostly made out of the breast part of the chicken, but I like how juicy the thigh meat is. If your butcher isn’t able to grind this for you, you can use your own food processor (Kitchenaid is able to do this, even with their mini food processor), or mince the chicken with a knife. A combination of chicken and minced shrimp or pork and minced shrimp is also a very good combination.
If you plan to use chicken breast (I have also tried to do this), make sure to have a healthy ratio of meat vs noodles in the filling. I also suggest adding some chopped shitake mushrooms to keep the filling juicy.
You can also do a vegan version of this and replace the meat with more kinds of mushroom, or some chopped firm tofu.
Rice paper wrapper is sticky once softened or wet—so a couple of things that you need to know if you’re just starting to learn how to make these: don’t leave the wet rice paper on the work surface for too long or else it would stick. This also means that when you’re frying the spring rolls, make sure that the pieces aren’t too close together so that they wouldn’t stick together.
This dish is best served with Nuoc Cham—a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce.
Chả Giò- Fried Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 7 minutes
For the spring roll:
- 20-25 pieces of rice paper wrapper
- 1/2 kilo of meat – I used chicken thighs, ground or minced (you can ask your butcher to do it for you, or use a food processor). Vegetarian/Vegan substitute: If you’re using firm tofu, use about 250-300 grams, chopped into small cubes.
- ½ cup of minced carrots
- ½ cup of washed bean sprouts
- 4 cloves of minced garlic
- 2 cups of rehydrated vermicelli noodles (I put them in water overnight, but 1 hour will do)
- 1 cup of wood ear or shitake mushrooms minced
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp sugar or 2 packets stevia
- 1/4 cup grated carrots
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp chili flakes or fresh bird’s eye chili (siling labuyo), chopped
- Mix all the ingredients of the filling together in one bowl, making sure that the ratio between the meat, vegetables, and noodles is proportionate. Set aside.
- Dip the rice paper in warm water for 15 seconds, then place it on a damp piece of cloth that has been laid out on your prep table or plate.
- Add the filling near the center (but closer to the edge near you) of the rice paper. Fold the bottom edge of the rice paper, allowing it to cover the filling. Then fold the sides of the rice paper and roll quite tightly.
- Do this for the rest of the rice paper wrapper and filling.
- Heat your oil for deep frying to about medium high heat. Use a chopstick to check: bubbles will form around chopsticks if ready.
- Deep fry the spring rolls for 5 minutes and place on a cooling rack. If you want to make these ahead and store them for later, after cooling for about 15 minutes on the rack, place the spring rolls in a container and freeze. Then once you’re ready, you can go to the next step.
- Crank up your stove’s heat to high and flash fry the spring rolls a second time for about 1-2 minutes. If your spring rolls have been in the freezer for a couple of days, add another minute.
- Serve with lettuce, shiso, basil leaves, and lemon for wrapping, and some nuoc cham for dipping. Usually, one takes a piece of lettuce, along with piece of shiso or basil, then wrap these around the spring roll, before dipping. Squeezing the lemon on the spring roll before eating also brightens the dish.