Monday, March 30, 2009

Cha Gio - Vietnamese Fried Spring Roll

When I was a little girl my mom use to make Cha Gio for a lot of church events, which require her to make anywhere from 50 to 100 rolls. My dad and I were the designated wrapper peeler. The wrappers come in a pack that stick to one another, so my dad and I would sit there and peel them so it would be ready for my mom to roll. I hated that job! Like other little girls I wanted more responsibilities...I wanted to roll.

My mom would never let me roll though. When I was a teenager I told my mom I would only peel if she let me help her roll. She finally agrees to let me roll and you can't imagine how excited I was. My mom, however, put my rolls in a separate pile, the pile that doesn't get serve! I was not happy and I have to say I was hurt at the time. Why was my roll not good enough? Ok, I have to admit I was new to the rolling process so some were skinny while others were fat. My mom's rolls were always perfect and identical to each other. I didn't care I still work hard to roll them. My mom would tell me that they are made for guests so she wants them to be perfect because it shows that she cares about the food she serves. My thought at the time was it's just going to end up in the same place, our stomach!

Now that I cook a lot more I'm beginning to think like my mom. I don't mind spending extra hours in the kitchen to cut everything up the same length. I take my time plating my meals because I want it to look beautiful at the dinner table. I don't care if it's perceive as a waste of time. I just want to add special touches here and there because I care.

You could say I'm bias but I always prefer Vietnamese egg rolls, Cha Gio, to other egg rolls. Maybe I grew up eating well balance Cha Gio with 50% meat and 50% vegetables and other ingredients. I want to bite into a pork filled roll not a roll filled with 90% cabbage and mystery meat. You could say i'm very picky about my Cha Gio and rarely order them, even at Vietnamese restaurants. I grew up watching my mom make Cha Gio and I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as I have!


1 lb of ground pork
1/2 lb of shrimp
6-8 small to medium carrots
1 sweet onion
1 cup of dried black fungus
2 cup dried cellophane noodle
2  teaspoon of salt
1  tablespoon of sugar
1/2 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning
a few good shake of ground pepper
2 pack egg roll wrappers
1 egg yolk

1. Peel and julienned carrots (I only use the outer layer and not the core because it's sweeter)
2. Finely diced the onions
3. Soak the black fungus and cellophane noodle until soften. then rough chop the black fungus into smaller pieces and rough chop the noodles into shorter strands
4. Pre-peel the wrapper then saran wrap it so it doesn't dry up.
5. Ground the shrimp using a food processor.
6. Mix the ground pork, shrimp, carrots, onions, black fungus, and cellophane noodle together. Add the sugar, salt, mushroom seasoning, ground black pepper, and mix thoroughly. When you spoon a portion of the mixture, you want it have a balance of every ingredients.

7. I always take a small portion of the meat mixture and throw it in the deep fryer. This way you will know what the filling will taste like.  You can add additional salt and sugar to your liking.

How To Roll:

I'm sure everybody's mom have a special procedure to rolling eggs, this is what i'm comfortable with. Give yourself enough space to roll and have all your ingredients withing reach. I don't show it in the picture but you should always have something covering your wrappers because they will dry out.

Firmly roll it, squeeze it a bit if you have to. If you don't roll it firm enough it will not maintain a round shape and it may come a part during the frying process. Brush a little bit of egg yolk at the top corner to help you seal the roll.

Heat up cooking oil on medium-high heat and deep fry the roll until it's golden brown, which is about 10-15 minutes depending on the quantity of roll you are frying at a time. After you remove the rolls from the cooking oil, let roll stand upright in a container wrapped in paper towel to absorb some of the oil. Enjoy!