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I remember the very first time I tasted an Chinese take out egg roll. I spit out the thick greasy, cabbage filled bite. I was horrified. This was not even close to the egg rolls I grew up eating. Since there were some similarities between Chinese and Vietnamese food, I expected something closer to my mother’s crispy, light egg rolls.
If you’ve never tasted a Vietnamese egg roll (Chả Giò), you’re in for a treat. The wrapper is thin, light, and crispy. Kind of like samosas. The filling is usually comprised of pork and shrimp (if you’re lucky) with noodles and mushrooms.
Of course, each family’s recipe will have its own flair. My aunt added shredded carrots to her egg rolls. The savory rolls are then served with sweet, salty, tangy dipping sauce, nước chấm.
During holiday gatherings with my large extended family, someone always made a huge tray of crispy egg rolls. They tastes of pure steaming heaven fresh out of the fryer, but were just as good cold. As I spent the afternoon playing with my cousins, I’d grab an egg roll every time I ran past the table.
Before my husband met me, he’d only eaten American Chinese egg rolls. Now, he always orders a plate of egg rolls whenever we go out for Vietnamese. My mother-in-law always hopes that I’ll make a batch when she comes to visit.
Since you’re already rolling them, why not make extra and freeze them? You have two options: freeze them uncooked or fry them first, then freeze. If you freeze them uncooked, you can fry them straight from the freezer. It’ll take a bit longer too cook, so make sure to check the filling is cooked all the way through.
If you opt to freeze them after you fry them, you can reheat them in the oven for a crispy wrapper.
You’ll have to visit an Asian grocer in order to pick up the dried wood ear mushrooms, bean thread noodles, and the egg roll wrappers. I’ve seen the bean thread noodles at some traditional grocery stores, so it’s worth a look.
Wood ear mushrooms are usually labeled as fungus. Don’t let that freak you out since mushrooms are essentially fungus. I purchase the shredded ones to save a step of cutting them. If you can’t find wood ear mushrooms, you can omit them. I like their chewy-crunchy texture in my eggrolls.
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Make sure you purchase the correct wrappers. You’ll find them in the freezer section. Don’t buy the ones that say “dumpling” or “gyoza” wrappers. They are too thick.
Visit an Asian grocer and look for packages that say “spring roll pastry” or “spring roll wrappers.” The wrappers are thin and come in a block. When I was younger, the only job my mom trusted me with was separating the wrappers from the block. Once they’re separated, cover them with a damp paper towel so they don’t dry out.
This recipe does take a bit of hands on time, so clear an afternoon. It’s easy to make a double batch to freeze. Once you start rolling them, you’ll get into a groove and the rolling will go quickly.
How do you roll an egg roll, you ask? I’ve got this handy dandy photo for you:
If you’ve rolled a burrito (or seen others do it), rolling eggrolls is very similar. Make sure not to overstuff the wrappers or they might explode during the frying process.
My mom didn’t give me any measurements for her recipe. Luckily, she did give me proportions. I played around to recreate my childhood flavors.
I hope you’ll enjoy the Chả Giò as much as our family did! You might not ever go back to those Chinese take out egg rolls.
They’re great on their own or with nước chấm dipping sauce. You can even serve them on top bun (rice noodles)!
Tip: Roll and fry a double batch, then freeze the extras for a quick snack later. Just reheat in the oven until hot and crispy.
Vietnamese Chả Giò Egg Rolls Recipe
- 1.5 pounds ground pork
- 1 medium yellow onion, finley diced
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 1/4 c. shredded wood ear mushroom, dried
- 1 100g package dried bean thread noodles (approx 3.5 oz)
- 1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
- 1 50-count package of spring roll wrappers approx 6x6" (from frozen section)
- Vegetable oil for frying
Soak dried wood ear mushrooms and bean thread noodles in hot tap water. Let soak for 10 minutes and drain in colander. Using kitchen scissors, cut noodles and mushrooms into 1-2" long pieces. Set aside.
Filling: In a large mixing bowl, combine ground pork, onions, mushrooms, bean thread noodles, salt and pepper. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Gently pull the wrappers apart. Set on plate and keep covered with a damp paper towel.
Place approximately 2 Tablespoons of filling on one wrapper and roll as show in the photo above. Before completing the roll, use small amount of egg yolk to seal it. Continue until all wrappers are rolled.
Fill a heavy pot with 1.5" vegetable oil and heat to 350 degrees. You can test oil by placing wooden chopstick into oil--if bubbles rise to top, then it's hot enough. Fry egg rolls in small batches until golden brown, turning as needed. Place on cooling rack.