spring rolls are one of vietnamese people’s most popular foods. you’ll almost always see spring rolls at a vietnamese gathering. every household has their own variations. when ba makes them, he adds carrots because he likes the crunch when biting into them. others use taro roots which blends nicely with the meat. ba’s seasoning is nice but his rolls are often bigger than my liking so when i make them, i usually cut the spring roll paper in half, making them half the size. i prefer them this way because that means i can eat more without feeling overly stuffed or overwhelmed.
when my aussie cousins were here back in october visiting, he taught me a trick which i am now adopting into my repertoire. his ma-in-law would pre-fry them first before the guests arrive to their dinner party and then fry them completely twenty minutes prior to their arrival. this way the rolls don’t sit out for long and they retain the crispiness. i thought it was such a neat trick. another one i learned from my parents’ friend is to drain the oil from the rolls, you would stand them up instead of letting them lay down. i thought my trick was good enough, where i let them to cool off on a drying rack rather than on a paper towel to avoid the skin from softening and becoming soggy. so, like i said, everyone has their way. it’s nice to incorporate all of them and apply them to your own method.
i made two versions: one with pork (typical meat used), one with shrimp.
- about 1lb ground pork or shrimp – if using shrimp put it in the food processor and pulse
- a very generous amount of dry woodear mushroom – soak in warm water
- 1 bundle cellophane noodles – soak in hot water to cook them
- 3 taro roots
- fish sauce to taste
- 1 T white pepper
- a package of spring rolls wrapping paper – you can get the frozen kind or the rice paper made especially for spring rolls (look for the ones that say “chả giò”)
- three eggs – one is for wetting the wrapping paper
in a food processor, combine the taro roots, mushroom, and noodles and pulse about three or four times. trust me, this will save you the chopping time. in a big bowl, combine the meat or shrimp with the roots, mushroom, noodles and two eggs. use your hands (make sure they’re impeccably clean, please) to mix. yes that’s right, get in there, don’t be afraid. then season with fish sauce and white pepper. don’t over salt them because they are to be eaten with dipping fish sauce.
i cut the paper in half. once on a rare occasion that i found the half-sized paper at the grocery store (i should have stocked up) so i didn’t need to cut it in half, but when i went back to the store a second time to look for more, they were nowhere to be found. i opted for the full size and just cut them. for the frozen paper, they have them in a smaller size in square shape. i find that the frozen one doesn’t offer the same crunch or freshness that the rice paper does. try both ways and you can pick your preference. ba likes the frozen paper.
if you’re using rice paper:
have a bowl of warm to hot water available, one at a time dip the paper in the water then lay it on a flat surface, let it soften (if your water is hot it’ll soften almost right away).
if you’re using the paper from the freezer:
let the paper thaw, whisk the extra egg in a small bowl. one at a time, lay it on a flat surface, wet the paper with the egg mixture.
follow the illustration below for rolling instructions, brought to you by fox himself.