Have you ever eaten something at a restaurant that tasted so good you couldn’t stop thinking about it?
For me, my cravings got the best of me this week. Ever since visiting San Antonio this past April. I’ve been thinking about the Spring Rolls at Viet-Nam Restaurant on Broadway. During the fifteen years I lived in San Antonio, Viet-Nam became one of my favorite restaurants. I would order the Chicken Lemongrass plate time after time because, the dish came with those wonderful spring rolls. The last 13 years since moving away from San Antonio, when I would visit a Vietnamese restaurant. I would look for them on the menu but, I never experience anything that could come close to the version of Viet-Nam’s spring rolls. So, when my partner and I planned a trip to San Antonio this past April. Viet-Nam was on the list of restaurants to visit. Meeting friends for lunch at Viet-Nam to catch up and get my fix of spring rolls (Chả giò).
What makes the spring rolls (Chả giò) at Viet-Nam Restaurant so special? Unlike other spring rolls that are mostly filled with vegetables and wrapped in a wheat based dough. Viet-Nam’s version of spring rolls are stuffed with a generous amount of filling that consist of ground pork, crab, mung bean noodles, wood ear mushrooms, grated carrots, onion, shallot, garlic, fish sauce, salt and pepper. Wrapped in rice paper and measuring about 8-inches long and 1 1/2-inches in diameter when rolled. When taking that first bit of a deep fried Chả giò, the first experience you encounter is the ethereal crisp, crunch, and chewiness of the rice paper wrapper and then the flavorful, rich, and meaty texture of the filling. The spring rolls are traditionally served with Nước Chấm (Vietnamese dipping sauce), lettuce leaves, bean sprouts, shredded carrots, cucumbers, basil, mint, and cilantro. I like the additional kick of heat from a Sweet and Sour Hot Chili Sauce too! The Chả giò made originally for royalty, are nick named “Imperial Rolls.”
The craving set me on a quest to learn how to make the Chả giò. My goals where simple: Create a spring roll that had the same taste and texture I’d experienced at Viet-Nam’s Restaurant and to also recreate the slightly sweet, salty, sour, and fishy Nước Chấm (Vietnamese dipping sauce) with its ultimate umami depth of flavor.
- Food Processor with Blade Attachment
- Cutting Board
- Chefs Knife
- 8 Quart Mixing Bowl
- 2 – 2 Quart Mixing Bowls
- Can Opener
- Scale/Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Large platter with warm water to dip Rice Paper Wrapper into
- Plastic Wrap
- 2 – 1/2 Sheet Pan
- Cooling Rack to fit 1/2 Sheet Pan
- Pot 6 qt. Deep Stock Pot
- 3 Quarts Canola Oil
- Thermometer for Frying
Chả giò (Vietnamese Pork Spring Rolls)
- 3 oz. Dried Mung Bean Noodles (soak in hot water for 30 minutes)
- 1.5 oz. Dried Wood Ear Mushrooms (soak in hot water for 30 minutes)
- 2 lbs. Pork Shoulder (cut into 1/2-inch cubes & finely chop in food processer
- 10.5 oz. Canned Crab (drained, this will be 3 cans)
- 2 cups Shredded Carrots
- 2 Tbsp. Garlic (finely minced)
- 1 cup Onion (finely minced)
- 1/2 cup Shallot (finely minced)
- 2 Tbsp. Fish Sauce
- 1 tsp. Fine Sea Salt
- 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper (freshly ground)
- 2 Eggs (large)
- 1 Pkg. Rice Paper (11 inches diameter, I like the Three Ladies Brand)
- Drain the mung bean noodles and chop into 2 inch pieces and place into 8 qt. mixing bowl
- Drain the wood ear mushrooms and finely chop. Place the chopped mushrooms into the 8 qt. mixing bowl.
- Add to the 8 qt. mixing bowl the ground pork, drained crab, carrots, garlic, onions, shallot, fish sauce, salt, black pepper, and eggs.
- Using one hand combine the ingredients until well blended and filling sticks together.
- Check for seasoning by pan frying a little patty of the filling. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Heat the Canola Oil in the 6 qt. Stock Pot to 350°F.
- Place a clean cutting board on your work surface.
- Dip the Rice Paper wrapper into the platter with warm water and then place the wrapper on the cutting board.
- Using a large spoon, place 3/4 cup of the filling onto the nearest end of the wrapper. Form the filling into an even log about 8 inches long.
- Roll the rice paper over the filling twice and then tuck in the sides of the rice paper and finish rolling to form a cylinder that is about 8 inches long. Place onto a plastic lined sheet tray. Continue to form all the Chả giò and place on the plastic lined sheet tray making sure not to let them touch each other.
- Fry the Cha Gio 3 to 4 at a time. Depending how much room there is in the stock pot, keeping them separated from each other during the first few minutes of frying otherwise they might stick to each other.
- Maintaining a temperature that is between 320°F. to 350°F. Fry for 8 to 10 minutes or until the wrapper is slightly golden and crispy. Remove the Chả giò from the oil and place onto a cooling rack that is sitting on a sheet pan to drain. Continue frying all the Chả giò.
- Place the fried Chả giò on the sheet tray with the cooling rack into a oven set to 300°F. to keep warm for serving. Note: the Cha Gio can be fried a head, cooled, and refrigerated and then reheated in a 375°F. oven for 10 to 12 minutes before serving.
- Serve with Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce), lettuce leaves, bean sprouts, shredded carrots and cucumbers, basil, mint, and cilantro.
Nước Chấm (Vietnamese dipping sauce)
- 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/4 cup Warm Water
- 1/4 cup Lime Juice
- 1/4 cup Fish Sauce
- 2 Tbsp. Garlic (minced)
- 1 tsp. Red Chili minced)
- In a bowl combine the granulated sugar and warm water. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Add the lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, and red chili and stir to combine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours, best over night. Strain the sauce before serving.
- Store in a jar with a lid in refrigerator for up 2 weeks.