Cha Gio is a classic Vietnamese dish where pork and vegetables are wrapped inside rice paper and deep fried. In North America Cha Gio goes under many names and you may have seen it on menus as Rolls Dip, Imperial Rolls or Vietnamese Spring Rolls.
This recipe for Vietnamese Spring Rolls was an attempt to replicate one of my all time favorite dishes — and it was quite successful. I tried two different kinds of rice papers one with pure rice flour and one with a partial amount of tapioca. Personally, all my tasters preferrred the pure rice one as it was crispier after it had been fried.
This recipe makes a big helping of rolls, but it usually takes a few tries to get the temperature of the oil correct, and really, who are you kidding you can eat them all. It can be served as an appetizer or more authentically over rice noodles and fresh vegetables with nuco cham for a full meal.
Chao Gio – Imperial Rolls, Rolls Dip(8 spring rolls)
Cover the vermicelli noodles in warm water for 10 minutes, drain and pat dry. Prepare the carrots either by grating or by julienning (very thin long strips) no longer than 2″, add to a large bowl. Finely slice the mushrooms, and the run a knife across them again to make them thin and fine lengthwise strips. MInce both the garlic and shallot and add along with the pepper, fish sauce and the half egg to the vegetables.
Mince the shrimp and add to the vegetables along with the pork. When the vermicelli are nice and dry chop them into no more than 2″ strips, then add to the other ingredients. Combine all ingredients until uniformly distributed. Refrigerate until you are ready to roll.
To make the dipping sauce finely slice the chillies and then combine all ingredients in a small bowl stirring to well incorporate the sugar. Taste it and either add more water if very salty or more sugar if not sweet enough. Set aside.
To shape the rolls first prepare the rice papers. I find it is easiest to work on 2-3 rolls at a time and collect them on a parchment lined sheet before frying any. The package may tell you differently but I have the best luck when I fill a large plate with quite warm water and immerse the entire sheet in it until soft, usually about 45-60 seconds. When it is soft transfer it to a clean counter top and pat off any excess water, let it relax for another minute.
Put approximately 3 tablespoons of filling parallel to the bottom of the circle about one third of the way in. Roll the rice paper up and over the filling just until you can hold the filling tightly and secure it. Now fold over the left hand side and the right hand side. Then continue rolling it as tight as you can until sealed. There are a ton of videos on this on youtube if you are interested on technique.
Prepare a pot or wok with enough oil to come up about 2″ up the sides. Heat up oil until it is 350-360F. Fry rolls in batches until crispy and lightly golden, about 8 minutes, maintain the temperature of the oil while frying. Place on a cooling rack to drain. To keep them warm while you are frying put the rack over a cookie sheet and place in a warm (300F) oven. Serve hot with dipping sauce.