Fried Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauce
Dich Ho was a powerhouse at J&L, the catering company my husband and I owned. Her nickname was General Dich since she ran the crew of prep chefs at our company with discipline and precision as well as with a great sense of humor. At work, her team cranked out thousands of these spring rolls, miniature size, to be used for passed appetizers at innumerable J&L events. What I enjoyed the most though was to have a place at the kitchen table in her apartment, with her girlfriends and daughter-in–laws and four year old grandchild, listening to the ladies chatting away in Vietnamese and rolling cha gio for one of their parties.
This is her recipe. She always uses the TYJ Spring Home brand of wrappers, which come 50 pieces to a package for appetizer size, 25 to a package for entrée size.
Ingredients for filling
1 lb ground pork
12 oz cleaned shrimp, coarsely chopped
1 dry onion, minced
½ small jicama, minced
3 scallion, minced
9 large fresh shitake mushroom caps, thinly sliced
2 oz mung bean, “cellophane noodles” soaked in hot water and coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, grated
salt and pepper
Beaten egg to seal the spring rolls
Bibb or other soft lettuce leaves
Fresh herbs like cilantro, mint and Asian basil
Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce
The filling is enough for 1 package full size TYJ Spring Home wrappers (25 pieces, approximately 6” X 6”) or 1 package appetizer size wrappers (50 pieces).
Lay a wrapper on your workbench with the corner point facing up, in a diamond shape. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling at the bottom corner of the wrapper and fold in the sides to cover it. Keep folding in the sides as you roll to the end. The tighter you form the spring rolls, the less grease they will absorb when you fry them. Freeze and store in airtight containers or Ziplock bags. Do not defrost before you cook them. Heat oil to around 300° and deep fry until the spring rolls are golden brown and crispy and the filling is cooked through.
To serve, wrap the hot spring roll in a cool leaf of lettuce, tuck in some fresh herbs and dip in nuoc cham, the ubiquitous Vietnamese table sauce.
Nuoc Cham Sauce
½ to 1 tbl minced fresh garlic
2 tbl sugar
1-3 tsp chili paste or sliced fresh hot Thai chilies
3 tbl fish sauce (3 Crab brand recommended)
2 tbl fresh lime juice
3 tbl water
Mix all ingredients together until the sugar dissolves. The sauce will last in the refrigerator at least a week but the garlic will get more and more pronounced. If you plan to store the sauce, just smash the garlic cloves rather than chop them and fish them out and discard after the first day or two.