Vietnamese egg rolls are typically wrapped with a rice paper and contain a variety of chopped vegetables, pork, shrimp, or poultry.
The Ravenous Couple
What recipe would you like to learn if you get one afternoon to learn from a Vietnamese grandmother? For us, and some friends, it was crispy banh xeo and Vietnamese egg rolls, called chả giò in the south and nem rán in the north. Since we blogged about banh xeo already, we’ll concentrate on the venerable egg roll.
How are Vietnamese egg rolls different, than say, Chinese egg rolls? Vietnamese egg rolls are typically wrapped with a rice paper whereas Chinese egg rolls are wrapped a wheat base wrapper. They both contain a variety of chopped vegetables and can be made with pork, shrimp, or leaner meats such as chicken or turkey. The textural differences between rice paper and wheat paper is stunning. The rice paper roll is both crispy, bubbly and pleasantly chewy, a great alternative to the wheat based wrapper. Hong’s parents have been making Vietnamese egg rolls for over 20 years in addition to banh cam at their church, raising money for parish activities.
So for one afternoon we were all eager sponges, soaking up tips learned from over 40 years of cooking from Hong’s mom, a mother of four and grandmother of two and soon to be three, making banh xeo and chả giò. We’ve previously posted the banh xeo recipe so we won’t comment too much on that here, except to use a good nonstick pan and go low and slow on the heat for crispy banh xeo. But in case you’re wondering, the banh xeo made by all the learners came out delicious!
So now that we’ve tantalized you with banh xeo, let’s get serious about making chả giò. Its harder to find Vietnamese egg rolls made from rice paper these days. The convenience of the wheat wrapper along with even golden brown color makes it an easy alternative. The main reason is that rice paper is a little tricky to fry and doesn’t get beautifully golden brown like the wheat based egg roll wrappers. When the rice paper hits the hot oil, it immediately bubbles up and blisters. If two egg rolls touch, they will stick to one another. The blistering does calm down after a few seconds, however allowing you to fry as normal.