I guess it’s that time again when you look back at the last year and recommit to accomplish some resolutions into the new year. For me, one of my biggest goals these last few years has been to learn or try to recreate some of the wonderful Vietnamese dishes we had at home. Like they say, you don’t know what you had until you’ve lost it. There is nothing that makes you feel more homesick than being far from your mother’s cooking. I get cravings from fond memories of large Vietnamese feasts filled with family-style gỏi cuốn (spring rolls) to bánh bột lọc (clear, chewy shrimp and pork dumplings) and bánh nậm (flat, rectangular steamed dumplings) to chả giò (egg rolls). In New York City, I’ve found that it’s more difficult to track down the right ingredients for Vietnamese cuisine. One time, I had to search through five different supermarkets just to find a Vietnamese herb called ngò om. In the end, it’s totally worth the time and effort to get a little taste of home.
Without a doubt, my mother’s family recipe for chả giò (egg rolls) is always a hit. It has the perfect filling with the most satisfying amount of crunch from the deep-fried pastry wrapper. They’re always the first dish to go as family members scurry over to get their fair share. I’m happy to share our family recipe and spread our own tradition to you all.
To make ~25 egg rolls, you’ll need:
- a food processor or some major mincing skills
- 1 bundle of bean thread (must be soaked for 5 min before use)
- 1/2 cup soaked dried wood ear mushrooms aka black fungus (must be soaked for 30 min before use, expands significantly when soaked so make sure to account for this in your measurement)
- 1/2 lb ground pork: preferably the leanest pork available, my mother usually requests to have the pork ground on the spot
- 1/4 headless shrimp
- 1/2 cup carrot, shredded
- 1/2 onion
- 1 green onion
- 1/2 cup jicama, shredded
- 2 tbs fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar or MSG
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 egg
- 25 egg roll pastry wraps (8″ x 8″)
- 4-5+ cups corn oil (for deep-frying)
Now, I’m sure some of these ingredients have raised a few eyebrows, so here are some pictures to help! All of these ingredients can be found at Hong Kong Supermarket in Manhattan’s Chinatown.
Bean thread usually comes in a pink net with multiple bundles and can be found in the aisle with other rice noodles at Asian supermarkets:
Dried wood ear mushrooms (black fungus) usually come dried in a plastic bag and can be found in the aisle with beans and other dried foods at Asian supermarkets:
This is jicama, usually found in the produce section of Asian and other ethnic supermarkets. It has a white, radish-like interior.
My family uses the following pastry wraps, which can usually be found in the freezer near the frozen dumplings at Asian supermarkets:
- Soak the mushrooms and bean thread in water for 30 minutes.
- Peel and de-vein shrimp. Put the shrimp into the food processor and pulse until ground.
- Mix the ground shrimp with the ground pork.
- Use a food processor to coarsely mince the mushrooms, shredded carrots, onion, green onion, and jicama.
- Drain the bean thread and chop into 1-inch pieces
- Mix all the vegetables with the ground meat.
- Add the fish sauce, salt, sugar/MSG, and black pepper.
- Add in one egg yolk and save the egg white to seal the egg rolls later.
- Mix everything up to finish the filling.
- Wrap the eggrolls. How do you wrap an eggroll, you ask? We’ve got you! See the video below for more guidance.
- Deep-fry in corn oil until the skin is a golden brown.
- Place on paper towel to blot any excess oil.
- Serve while hot.
These egg rolls can be eaten alone or served in vermicelli bowls like this one!