Crispy Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Cha Gio) by Ken Hom OBE
"This is perhaps one of the tastiest versions of spring rolls in all of Asia. Crackling rice paper skins are stuffed with a savoury filling, all eaten in a leaf of fresh lettuce with either mint or basil, dipped in a sauce, which makes it an ideal first course. I think you will find them tasty and fun to eat as well. Although they can be made ahead of time, it is best to deep-fry them at the last minute. They are terrific treats to go with drinks or make a lovely first course for a dinner party.
The rice paper wrappers can be found at Chinese or Southeast Asian grocers. They are dry and must be gently soaked before using them. Handle them with care as they are quite fragile. When deep-frying them, do not crowd them in the pan as they tend to stick. If they stick don't separate as you may risk breaking them. You will see, however, that such care is well repaid by the pleasures this delicate treat affords."
Makes about 25 small spring rolls
• 25g (1oz) Bean thread (transparent) noodles
• 10 g (½ oz) Chinese dried wood ears or dried Chinese mushrooms
• 1 tablespoon groundnut (peanut) oil
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• 2 tablespoons garlic, coarsely chopped
• 2 tablespoons spring onions, finely chopped
• 2 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
• 225 g (8 oz) minced pork
• 1½ teaspoons salt
• ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 100 g (4 oz) cooked fresh crab meat
Rice paper, frying and serving:
• 5 tablespoons plain flour mixed with 6 tablespoons cold water
• 1 packet small round rice paper wrappers - 15 cm (6 in)
• 15 floz (400 ml) oil, preferably groundnut
• 8 oz (225 g) iceberg lettuce
• Assorted sprigs of basil, mint, or coriander, or a combination of all three
Dipping sauce (Nuoc Cham):
This sauce may be made well ahead of time.
• 2 tablespoons fish sauce
• 1-2 fresh red chillies, seeded and chopped
• 1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
• 4 tablespoons water
• 1 tablespoon sugar
When they are soft, drain them and discard the water. Cut them into 3 in (7.5 cm) lengths using scissors or a knife. Soak the wood ears or Chinese mushrooms in warm water for about 20 minutes until soft. Rinse well in cold water and squeeze the excess liquid from the wood ears or mushrooms. Remove any hard stems and finely shred.
Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the onion, garlic, spring onions and shallots and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Then add the pork, salt and pepper and continue to stir-fry for 5 minutes. Drain the pork in a colander and allow it to cool.
When the pork is cool, combine it in a large bowl with the bean thread noodles, tree ears and cooked crab meat. In a small bowl, mix the flour and water together into a paste.
Dip one of the rice paper rounds in the water and let it soften. Remove and drain it on a linen towel. Put about two tablespoons of the filling on each softened rice paper wrapper. Fold in each side and then roll it up tightly. Seal the ends with a little of the flour-paste mixture. You should have a roll about 3 in (7.5 cm) long, a little like a small sausage. Repeat the procedure until you have used up all the filling.
Deep-fry the spring rolls, a few at a time, until they are golden brown. They have a tendency to stick to each other at the beginning of the frying, so only fry a few at a time. Do not attempt to break them apart should they stick together. You can do this after they are removed from the oil. Drain them on kitchen paper.
Make the nuoc cham (dipping sauce) by blending together all the ingredients. This can be made in advance and ensure you leave the dip to rest for 10 minutes before using.
A huge thank you to our ambassador Ken Hom for your continued support and incredible recipes! For more, visit KenHom.com
Why not try your hand at these spring rolls for a special occasion like The Big Lunch / The Big Jubilee Lunch? If you haven't already, get your free pack today!