Monday, March 05, 2007

Cha Gio (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)

This is the 11th in a special series of food reports from my recent trip to Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Return every Sunday and Monday for the latest postings.
The following recipe is from the Vietnam Cookery Center in Saigon/HCMC. It was one of three dishes I learned in a cooking class I took. I tweaked the recipe to include ingredients that you can find in the United States, or at least California. (See yesterday's post below.)

3 oz. minced pork
2 oz. crab meat
3 oz. minced shrimp
2 shiitake mushrooms, minced
3 oz. shredded or finely julienned taro or turnip
1/2 t powdered chicken boullion
1 t sugar
1 t white pepper
1/2 T chopped spring onions
1 egg yolk
1/2 T chopped shallots
rice paper sheets

In a bowl, mix pork, crab, shrimp, taro (or turnip) and mushroom. Then add shallots, spring onions, sugar, chicken powder, pepper and egg yolk. Mash everything together until they are well combined and become a paste.

Mix a little bit of sugar in a small bowl of water. Using this sugar water, spread a little on the surface of the rice paper evenly (starting from the outside to the inside). Fold the bottom edge of the paper about 2 inches toward the center. Then place 1 tablespoon of the stuffing on the space folded. Fold in the left and right sides and then roll forward toward center, tightly tucking as you roll. Place a little of the sugar water at the edge of the final fold to seal your roll.
Deep fry the spring rolls in a large saucepan with Canola oil or other vegetable oil over medium heat until golden brown. Keep stirring your spring rolls as you fry them to brown them evenly. (Do not crowd your pan. You may need to cook your spring rolls in more than one batch.)

Makes about six rolls. Serve with lettuce, herbs such as basil leaves, and fresh rice noodles and dipping sauce.

Nuoc Mam Cham (Dipping Fish Sauce)

2 T sugar
2 T lemon juice
2 T fish sauce
1 t chopped garlic
1 t chopped chili, seeded

In a small bowl, add lemon juice, sugar and then fish sauce. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved completely. Then add garlic and chilies. Stir again and taste. Adjust as needed.

Here's a quick demo of how to roll a spring roll by Chef Yun from the Vietnam Cookery Center. He was a very soft-spoken instructor when I took his class, so you might not be able to hear him clearly. But hopefully you can get the idea of how to roll by watching the video:

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