recipes that are simple and delicious.
There a a few food combinations that really get me going. No, it’s not the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or is it a bacon cheeseburger, but boy do I love both of those. Believe it or not it is a large bowl of Vietnamese pho alongside cha gio. Cha gio, or Vietnamese egg rolls are unlike traditional egg rolls where their wrapper is not your standard egg roll wrapper, rather a wrapper that is thin, much like your classic spring roll wrapper.
Cha gio is super crispy and the interior is just loaded with awesome flavors. It’s pork, combined with garlic, shrimp, mushrooms, noodles, carrots, and onions to name a few that when dipped in your classic Asian dipping sauce, well, let’s just say they are hard to stop eating. As I typically lean towards making Filipino lumpia, I thought I would go ahead and give these cha gio a shot. I’ve done enough investigation in the past while eating these to know what was inside, but it was the wrapper that had me confused as they require spring roll wrappers which are always delicate.
Let’s get started.
Ingredients for Serving:
Begin by soaking your mushrooms in hot water. Keep them soaking until they are nice and tender. Once tender, about 15 minutes or so, drain them, then chop them.
To another large bowl, add hot water. Toss in the bean thread, immerse in the water, and soak until they are tender. You do not want them to be a mushy noodle, so just soak them until they have softened. Once softened, drain, and chop them.
To a large mixing bowl, add the pork, shrimp, mushrooms, and bean thread.
To a food processor, add the carrot. Pulse until it is nicely grated. Remove the carrot, and place on some thick paper towel. Bundle up the paper towel and press out any liquid. Trust me, there is plenty of liquid from once carrot! Once drained, add the grated carrot to the mixing bowl.
Add the onion and garlic to the food processor, and pulse that down until they are finely grated. Add to the mixing bowl.
Add the oyster sauce and black pepper to the mixing bowl, and with both hands, preferably with cooking cloves on, mix, and thoroughly mix to combine all of the ingredients.
Take a bit of the mixture and add it to a preheated skillet. Cook the mixture until the pork is fully cooked. Once cooked, taste it. Does it need any salt? More pepper? If so, season the mixture, and repeat until you have the balance you are looking for. There is nothing worse than wrapping 25-50 egg rolls and have a unseasoned meat mixture, trust me.
Once the mixture is ready, get another large bowl of warm water ready. We are going to soak the wrappers until they are softened, then begin wrapping. We will repeat this process.
Get your frying pot ready, and add the oil. Bring the oil up to about 325 degrees. This will take a while, so we will begin wrapping the cha gio.
Add a wrapper to the bowl of water, and move around with your hand until it gets soft, or workable for wrapping, about a minute or so.
Lay the softened wrapper on a plate, and add about two tablespoons, or more, of the filling. Lay this filling closest to you, with about an inch or so of the wrapper, closest to you, open.
Fold the wrapper over the meat mixture, and gently roll half way up. Fold over both sides, and continue to roll, sealing the wrapper. Make sure there are no tears or areas where oil can enter the roll. Place on a baking sheet, lined with lightly moistened paper towel.
Repeat. This takes a bit of time, so have some good music playing.
The oil should be ready now.
Carefully place a few of them into the oil, and let them sit there, cooking for about a minute or so without interacting with them. After a minute or so, carefully move them around, being careful not to tear the wrapper.
Cook for about 5 minutes, then remove with a kitchen spyder, and place them on a baking sheet, lined with paper towel to let any excess oil drain.
When you are ready to eat, and trust me, you will be ready after removing the first few of them, plate them up.
This is the best part. Eating.
Take one of the lettuce leaves, and add one of the cha gio. Place some fresh mint, cilantro, and cucumber onto the side of the cha gio. Fold the lettuce leaf over the mixture, dip into some nuoc cham, and eat.
If you want to talk about freakin’ deliciousness, this is the one to be talking about. Sure there is some work up front, but the end result is phenomenal in flavor. The texture from the Vietnamese egg roll, when balanced with the fresh herbs? This one will have you eating egg rolls this way for some time to come! Hope you enjoy.