Vietnamese spring rolls (cha gio)
This is perhaps one of the tastiest versions of spring rolls in all of Asia and makes an ideal first course
Makes: about 25 spring rolls
Preparation time: 40-50 minutes
Cooking time: 5-10 minutes
25g glass noodles
10g dried Chinese wood ears or dried Chinese mushrooms
1 tbsp groundnut oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp spring onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
225g minced pork
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
100g fresh crab meat, cookedŢ
5 tbsp plain flour mixed with 6 tbsps cold water
1 pack small round rice paper wrappers
400ml oil, preferably groundnut
225g iceberg lettuce
Assorted sprigs of basil, mint, or coriander, or a combination of all three
1. Soak the noodles in a large bowl of warm water for 15 minutes. When they are soft, drain them and discard the water. Cut them into 7.5cm/3in lengths using scissors or a knife.
2. Soak the wood ears or Chinese mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes until soft. Rinse well in cold water and then squeeze out the excess liquid. Remove any hard stems and finely shred.
3. Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until hot. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the onion, garlic, spring onions and shallots and stir-fry for 3 minutes.
4. Add the pork, salt and pepper and continue to stir-fry for 5 minutes. Drain the pork in a colander and allow to cool.
5. In a large bowl, combine the pork (once cooled) with the noodles, tree ears or mushrooms and cooked crab meat.
6. In a small bowl, mix the flour and water together into a paste.
7. When you are ready to make the spring rolls, fill a large bowl with warm water. Dip one of the rice paper rounds in the water and let it soften. Remove and drain it on a linen towel.
8. Put about 2 tbsp of filling on each softened rice paper wrapper. Fold in each side and then roll up tightly. Seal the ends with a little of the flour paste. You should have a roll about 7.5cm/3in long, a little like a small sausage. Repeat the procedure until you have used all of the filling.
9. Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or large wok until it is hot. Deep-fry the spring rolls, a few at a time, until they are golden brown. Do not attempt to break them apart should they stick together. You can do this after they are removed from the oil.
10. Drain them on kitchen paper and serve at once with lettuce leaves, herb sprigs and dipping sauce.
To make the dipping sauce (nuoc cham)
2 tbsp fish sauce
1-2 fresh red chillies, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp lime or lemon juice
4 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar
1. Combine all the ingredients together in a blender and blitz to mix them thoroughly. Let the mixture sit for at least 10 minutes before serving with the spring rolls.
Recipe and Images courtesy of Ken Hom. To find out more, visit kenhom.co.uk