Cha Gio (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)
Cha Gio is a type Vietnamese Spring Rolls that are either consumed fresh or fried, usually filled with meats and vegetables then wrapped in a rehydrated rice paper. Similar to the Chinese spring rolls where you can fill it with whatever you want but instead of the usual wrapper made with flour, this Vietnamese counterpart is made with rice and tapioca flour, giving it a very crunchy texture when fried.
Popular Cha Gio filling are ground pork, prawns, crab, chicken, snails, tofu, mushrooms, wood ear fungus, carrots, kohlrabi, taro, jicama, bean sprouts and/or rice vermicelli, having said that no recipe is official. Cha Gio is often served with a dip prepared with fish sauce mixed with lemon juice or vinegar, water, sugar, garlic and chili pepper, it can be enjoyed as a snack, a side dish or served together with raw vegetable dish called Rau Song.
Wrapping this is quite tricky, as you are using a very most wrapper that sticks easily, it’s like handling a sticker where when it sticks it’s hard to unstick it without tearing it apart. What I do for a trick to handle this is when you stack them together after rolling is that roll it in a plate with a thin film of oil to coat the outside so it does not stick with other Cha Gio, or you can also fry it as you wrap. Cooking it is quite tricky as well as they bubble up if you cook it for long so best to fill it with an almost cooked filling so the deep frying is not to cook the filling but just to crisp the outsides.
- In a wok add a small amount of oil then sauté garlic and shallots.
- Add the pork, wood ear fungus, shiitake and carrots, stir fry for 5 minutes
- Add the shrimp then continue to cook for a minute.
- Season with fish sauce then turn heat off.
- Add the crab meat, mix well then place it in a colander to drain off excess liquid. Let it cool for a couple of hours.
- Once the filling is cool enough to handle, prepare a large deep plate fill it with water. Dip the rice paper wrappers one at a time then fill it the 1 heaping tablespoon of the meat and vegetable mixture, wrap the filling like how you do it with spring rolls then set it aside in a plate coated with a thin film of oil. Wrap the remaining filling.
- Prepare a wok filled with oil for deep frying, heat oil to 180C then deep fry Cha Gio in small batches, make sure they do not stick together as you dip as they stick really well during the first few seconds of deep frying.
- Remove from wok, place in a plate lined with paper towel to remove excess oil. Serve while hot.