For the first Vietnamese recipe I want to share with you, I decided on Chia Gio, which is the Vietnamese version of egg rolls. This is a dish that my mom usually makes for familly gatherings or special occasions as it is quite long to make.
The rolls are served with fresh lettuce leaves, Thai basil, cilantro, mint and any other fragrant herbs we can find. The trick is to roll the roll in a lettuce leaf with some herbs and to then dip it in the traditional fish-based sauce (nuoc mam). A vegan version of this sauce is coming up tomorrow.
I really like these rolls because they are so crispy! Also, because the Vietnamese version uses rice paper and not wheat paper, these are gluten-free! They are also quite versatile as you can pretty much add any vegetables or tofu to the filling: just keep in mind that the filling needs to be on the drier side. Any humid ingredient is better if cooked before adding it to the filling.
Here is what you need:
- 2 handfuls of mung bean transparent vermicelli (about 2 cups; you can use any kind of transparent vermicelli here)
- 1 cup black mushroom, soaked 2 hours
- 1 leek, the white part only (about 2 cups)
- 4 carrots
- 4 king oyster mushrooms
- 1 taro root (about 2 cups)
- 1 pack of rice paper (the one you use for spring rolls)
- 1 1/2 tbs white vinegar
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- 2 pinches of salt
- 1 pinch of sugar
- pepper to taste
- Vegetable oil to deep fry
Optional: mung beans (soaked overnight) or shredded firm tofu
Here is what you do:
- Let the vermicelli soak in cold water while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Peel and shred the carrots in a separate bowl. Add a pinch of salt, mix well and let sit.
- Finely chop the leek. I you have a food processor, now is the time to use it.
- Finely chop the king oyster mushrooms.
- In a large sauce pan, saute the leek to add more flavour. Do the same thing with the mushrooms until their water has evaporated.
- Finely chop the black mushroom.
- Press the carrots to remove the excess water.
- In a large bowl, place the leek, mushrooms, and carrots.
- Drain and dry the vermicelli with paper towels. Finely chop and add the to filling.
- Peel the taro root and wash. Use gloves for this because the sap of this root can irritate the skin. Shred and add to the mix.
- Prepare your rolling station: spread a large tea towel on your table. Put some lukewarm water in a large dish and add to vinegar and soy sauce (this will help your rolls to be crispy and brown a little bit more). Have a plate ready to put your rolls in.
- Once you are ready to roll, mix the vegetables and add equal amounts of salt, sugar and pepper. Adjust to your taste.
- Dip the rice paper in the water. Fold the bottom of the circle. Place one tablespoon of filling to the center. Fold the sides to the center, and roll. (I’m sorry if this is not clear, check the video to see what I mean!)
- Once all your rolls are all ready, heat up some vegetable oil to deep fry them. Add one roll at a time and be careful not to let them touch each other because they will stick! Fry until the become slightly golden.
- Let the rolls drain some of their oil by placing them on paper towels.
- Serve with the dipping sauce of your choice (recipe coming up later this week) or sweet chilli sauce, lettuce leaves and fragrant herbs.
If you don’t mind eating gluten, you can also use Chinese rolling paper, but I like the texture of the rice paper rolls. Make sure you have plenty of lettuce and herbs to serve this with as it really adds a lot of flavour and different textures.
Let me know if you give these a try!