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.
The filling can be any variety or combination of meats described above. Personally we love pork and shrimp together, but any will do. We always use wood ear mushrooms and bean thread noodles but vary other vegetables depending on what we have on hand or convenient at the market. For vegetables we prefer any combination of shredded jicama, taro, or carrots. Bean sprouts are another alternative. Vietnamese egg rolls typically do not contain cabbage.
Wrapping an egg roll isn’t terribly complex. However, we didn’t realize some of the reasons why we roll the way we do. Hong’s mom said it’s not just to keep the filling inside, but to also have even layers of wrapper around the filling so it will cook evenly and brown evenly. This is most evident at the ends of the egg rolls, when not wrapped carefully, tends to have only 1 or 2 layers of wrapper so it will cook faster and turns dark or burns while the rest of the egg roll is nice and golden.
To avoid this, place your filling on one end of your wrapper paper. Press down each end to form first layer. Crease the bottom, then fold the double layer of wrapper back up, forming 3 layers of paper covering the ends. Use this method whether you’re using rice paper or wheat paper. Another trick we learned is that Mom doesn’t use an egg wash to seal the egg rolls. The egg causes a discoloration at the seal and it dirties the cooking oil. Instead, she makes a simple tapioca starch slurry, cooked to a viscous paste that works like a charm.
Enjoy Vietnamese egg rolls with noodles such as bun thit nuong or simply on it’s own, wrapped with lettuce and Vietnamese herbs such as perilla, balm, mint or basil dipped with some nuoc mam cham and do chua.