Vietnamese fried springs rolls are probably one of my top 10 favorite foods. These little crispy bundles of a delicious meat-seafood combination are flavored with Vietnamese fish sauce and traditionally rolled with rice paper. To make them extra crispy, the rice paper should be moistened in water that has been mixed with corn starch.
I’ve learned how to make them from my mom (hers are far superior to the restaurant versions, if I do say so myself) and over the years we have moved from wrapping them with rice paper to wrapping them with spring roll pastry that can be found in the freezer section of most supermarkets. Spring roll pastry is easier to use and I much prefer the taste over the rice paper version.
Making these spring rolls, or cha gio in Vietnamese, usually meant that my mom was throwing a huge bash and so for me, eating these rolls tend to illicit a feeling of festivity and socializing.
I have shared my mom’s spring roll recipe with Scotch’s parents and we’ve even served it as hors d’oeuvres at his sister’s wedding reception which was held in a lovely little village in the south of France.
That year, Scotch’s aunt battled breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. Up until the days before the wedding, we were not sure if his Aunt would feel up to making the trip from the UK.
But the day before the wedding, we received good news that she was feeling well enough to join us. Scotch’s aunt is such a strong, caring woman and an amazing entrepreneur. We are so happy that the cancer is in remission and that she has recovered remarkably well.
October is breast cancer awareness month (about 1 in 8 women in the United States (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime) and my Dubai food blogger friends Rajani (@RajaniMani) and Lin (@boozychef) are donating 10% of their October food sales to a breast cancer awareness program in the Middle East.
I used Rajani’s homemade Madras curry powder to put a different spin to the traditional Vietnamese spring roll recipe:
I taste-tested these curried spring rolls at a Food Bloggers’ potluck hosted by Devina and I think they were a success!
I normally make 5 spring rolls per person – you can never have enough – they always disappear super quick!
Personally, the amount of Madras curry powder that I used in the spring rolls were a little strong for me but Devina’s mom said, “More curry!” so you can tweak the amount to your liking.
For me, Vietnamese spring rolls must be served with lettuce (we use iceberg lettuce or curly) and Vietnamese dipping sauce (Nuoc Mam Cham).
I wrap a spring roll in lettuce, dip it in the sauce, and enjoy the doubly crispy-crunchy texture. The lettuce adds a nice fresh and earthy dimension to each bite. Then I repeat for much more than my allotted 5 rolls/serving 🙂 .
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Wee Scotch didn’t quite manage the lettuce wrapping part but he was certainly an avid dipper.
Chicken Curry Spring Rolls ("Cary Cha Gio")
- 50 sheets (I use the 5x5-in square ones) frozen spring roll pastry, thawed
- 1 head of lettuce (rinsed)
- vegetable oil - for deep-frying (I use sunflower or canola)
Spring Roll Filling:
- 2 oz cellophane/bean thread/glass noodles - rehydrated, cut in 1” segments
- 2 lb ground chicken
- 3 large Chinese mushrooms - rehydrated and diced
- 1 cup taro* - grated (or 1 large carrot, grated)
- 1 bunch of scallions - chopped (or 1 med onion, diced)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 3 Tablespoons Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Teaspoon Madras curry powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground pepper (or to taste)
- 2 eggs
Nuoc Mam Cham (Vietnamese fish sauce for dipping)
- 1 clove garlic (very finely minced)
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
- 4 Tablespoons Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce
- 6 oz warm water
For the dipping sauce, mix all the ingredients in a bowl until the sugar has dissolved and refrigerate until needed.
Mix the filling ingredients together by hand or food processor and let it sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight. To taste-test the filling, microwave 1 tablespoon on high heat for 40 seconds or until cooked. Adjust seasonings as needed.
Place about 2 tablespoons of filling, diagonally, in the middle of each spring roll pastry and roll (video hopefully coming soon). Using water, wet the top edge of the spring roll so that it binds together.
Set a deep fryer to 325F (165C) and fry the spring rolls for 7-8 minutes.
Drain on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil
Serve with lettuce and dipping sauce.
*Taro is sometimes sold as "gulgas" in Dubai
1. For serving size, I estimate about 5 rolls per person using pastry that is 5x5 inch square. You can use a larger size, just add more filling.
2. Rolls can be frozen after frying. When needed, thaw in the fridge and then reheat in a pre-heated 350F (176C) oven until crispy on the outside and warm on the inside.