Fried Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Most of us are accustomed to the fresh Vietnamese rice paper rolls (dipped in water) filled with salad ingredients.

These ones are bound with an egg and fried and are very tasty. They were part of the cooking class at Hai’s Cafe in Hoi An, on the east coast of Central Vietnam, where I visited last week. Vietnamese markets are full of fresh herbs and vegetables, and the Vietnamese shop twice a day for their ingredients (most people don’t own a refrigerator).

1 cup vermicelli noodles, soaked in cold water 5-7 minutes, drained and cut in 7cm lengths
1 cup taro (or potato), peeled and grated
1 cup peeled and grated choko
1 cup peeled and grated carrot
1/2 cup dried Chinese mushrooms soaked in boiling water 5-7 minutes, finely sliced salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup thinly sliced green beans
1 cup finely sliced spring onions
1 egg yolk
1 packet rice paper sheets (softened briefly in warm water with a squeeze of lemon juice) approx 500ml vegetable oil

Combine all the vegetables, stir through the egg yolk and season to taste. Separate the rice papers. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the vegetable filling along one edge of the rice paper then roll up to look like a cigar, taking care to tuck in the edges as you go. Heat 2cm oil in a nonstick pan. Test the temperature of the oil by placing wooden chopsticks in the oil (it should sizzle).

Drop the rolls in to the hot oil, unsealed side down. Rotate the rolls until golden all over. Do this in batches of about 3-4 rolls. While frying, insert a few holes on each side with a small sharp knife all over the rolls to allow the hot oil to penetrate and to cook the vegetables. Drain on paper towels or on two chopsticks laid out over a bowl.

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