Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls
I bet you thought Vietnamese fried spring rolls and regular spring rolls were the same thing? They are similar … the only difference is the wrapper that is used.
Regular spring roll wrappers are made from wheat flour and Vietnamese fried spring roll wrappers are translucent and is made from a combination of rice flour and tapioca flour. Regular spring rolls are quicker and easier to make, the process of wrapping them is more forgiving. You don’t have to worry too much about air pockets and keeping them dry. They are less prone to exploding when they are fried and they don’t stick to each other either. Vietnamese spring rolls are a little more temperamental. They hate moisture and air pockets and will explode in the hot oil if any one of those are present.
They stick like crazy and take a bit more work, but they are well worth the effort.
So today I decided to make Vietnamese fried spring rolls. I love Vietnamese fried spring rolls and prefer these over the regular kind. They have a crispy, yet chewy texture to them which I love. With any spring rolls, you can fill them with whatever you like. I’m going to show you how I made mine.
First, we have to prepare the filling. Every family has their own filling recipe, the variations are endless. You can even make vegetarian fillings – omit the meat and add more finely sliced vegetables. Root vegetables are best – but it’s good to experiment with your favourite vegetables. My filling recipe is a combination of pork mince, prawns, Chinese mushrooms, vermicelli and other bits and bobs.
In two small bowls, soak the wood ear mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms. The wood ear mushrooms only needs a 10 minute soak and will triple in size. The shiitake mushrooms will take a bit longer … depending on their size they will probably take one or two hours at least. So make sure you soak them in advance. Once they have softened, chop them up into small pieces and put them in a large bowl.
Next, finely dice the shallots and garlic. You can add them raw to the filling mixture, but what I do is fry them a little in a frying pan. This gives the onions and garlic a nice flavour and takes away some of the bitterness. I also grate the garlic using a micro grater. You want it as finely grated as possible.
Use scissors to cut the chives into small pieces. Add this to the large bowl.
The vermicelli also needs to be softened. You can buy vermicelli from most major supermarkets (in the world food aisles). These vermicelli noodles are also known as glass noodles and are clear when softened. Simply soak 50g (they sell them in individual 50g packs so there is not need to buy a big pack) of the vermicelli in hot water for about 15 minutes. However, the problem with vermicelli is that they can be very wet especially after being soaked in the water. They need to be dried out … so what I do is strain them in a sieve and then put the vermicelli in a muslin cloth and squeeze out all the excess moisture. Once you have done this, use scissors to cut them up into little strands. You don’t want them too small. Place thesse into the large bowl too.
Chop the prawns into small pieces and add them to the bowl along with the minced pork and the rest of the ingredients. Flavour the mixture with the fish sauce, salt and pepper, rice wine and sesame oil. To test the seasoning, I usually fry a little of the mixture in a frying pan and taste test. Adjust the seasoning to your palette. Once you have the pefect seasoning, you are ready to roll!
The rice paper is quite fragile so be careful when taking them out of the packet – it can snap quite easily. Rice paper rolls are made from a mixture of rice flour and tapioca flour. There are many different brands of Báng Tráng (that’s the name of the rice paper in Vietnamese). Some brands are better than others – but it is up to you to decide which one you prefer. I personally always try and go for the ‘Bamboo Tree’ brand, the quality is better.
Now it’s time to roll … firstly you need a bowl of warm water with sugar dissolved in it. The sugar helps the rolls to brown quicker in the oil. Don’t worry … the spring rolls won’t be sweet.
Quickly dip the rice paper roll in the water then lay it on a moist clean tea towel. Next, get a spoonful of the mixture and place it on one end of the rice paper roll (the end closest to you). Using your fingers, shape the filling into a sausage shape. Pack it tightly to squeeze out any air pockets. Carefully fold the end closest to you over the mixture then fold the sides into the middles and keep rolling it away from you until you get a nicely packed spring roll. Pack it tightly, remember we don’t want too much air in the spring rolls.
Place the spring roll onto a tray lined with greaseproof paper. The rolls will be very sticky so don’t let them touch each other. Once you’ve filled a tray, pop the tray into the fridge for at least half an hour or until you are ready to deep fry them. By putting them in the fridge you are drying out the rolls even more. We are aiming for really dry rolls to minimise bubbles and explosions (yes they can explode a little in the hot oil so please be very careful and don’t stand too close to the oil).
Fry the spring rolls on a low heat in some sunflower oil (shallow fry) and depending on the size of your pan you should not overcrowd the pan. They are very sticky and once they are placed into the oil, they can start floating around and bumping into each other – when they start sticking together you will have trouble getting them apart. Once they start to crisp up in the pan they will stop sticking to each other. My wok allowed me to fry 5 rolls nicely without to much sticking together. Fry them for around 5 minutes (depending on the size of your rolls – my rolls are approximately 10cms in length).
Once fried, take them out and drain on the kitchen paper – stand them upright to keep them dry and to allow the oil to drip down onto the kitchen paper.
Serve them warm with rice noodles, lettuce and some nuoc cham (dipping sauce). Enjoy!
See below for the printable recipe.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
This recipe yields approximately 30 small spring rolls.
– A pack of dried rice paper – size can vary
– 400g pork mince
– 6 large prawns (chopped)
– 5 wood ear mushrooms (black fungus)
– 5 shiitake mushrooms
– Large thumb size piece of ginger
– 6 cloves of garlic
– 2 large shallots
– 50g vermicelli glass noodles
– Handful of chives
– 2 tbsp fish sauce
– 1 tbsp rice wine
– 1 tbsp sesame oil
– 1 tsp salt
– ½ tsp white pepper
1. Soak wood ear mushrooms in hot water for about 10 minutes until tripled in size. Chop finely and put it into a large bowl.
2. Soak shiitake mushrooms for about an hour until soft. Chop finely and put it into the large bowl.
3. Finely chop the shallots and onions – fry them in a pan to lightly brown them, transfer them to the large bowl.
4. Finely grate the ginger and cut the fresh chives into small pieces and put these into the large bowl.
5. Soak the vermicelli glass noodles in hot water for about 15 minutes. Drain the water, put the noodles into a muslin cloth and squeeze out excess water. Use scissors to roughly chop them. Add these to the large bowl.
6. Add the pork mince and chopped prawns to the large bowl.
7. Season the mixture with fish sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, salt and white pepper. Mix well.
8 Fry a little of the mixture in a frying pan until browned and cook through then taste it. Adjust seasoning as needed.
9. Place damp towel on a flat surface – in a bowl add some warm water and 1 tbsp of sugar, mix well until sugar dissolves.
10. Quickly dip the rice paper into the water then place it on the damp towel.
11. Place a spoonful of the mixture onto the rice paper, use fingers to shape it into a sausage shape.
12. Fold over one end (the end closest to you) of the rice paper over the meat mixture, then fold over the sides. Keep it tight and continue to roll away from you until you get a nice neat spring roll. It may take a little practice, but don’t give up – and size doesn’t matter … just keep it rolling.
13. Place the rolls on a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Keep space between each spring roll to prevent them from sticking. Pop the tray into the fridge for at least half an hour.
14. Once you are ready to fry … fill a deep pan or wok with some sunflower oil – you don’t want the oil too hot. Keep the heat low and fry the spring rolls in batches – do not overcrowd the pan because the spring rolls will stick together.
15. Depending on the size of your spring rolls, fry them for around 5 minutes or so.
16. Transfer them to a colander lined with kitchen paper, stand them upright to allow the oil to drip down and the skin to remain crispy.
17. Serve warm with rice noodles, lettuce and nuoc mam (dipping sauce).
I hope you get to try these beautiful spring rolls … a little effort does go a long way.
Let me know how it goes and remember to tag me on Instagram @sugar.and.sponge. Don’t forget to leave me a message below to let me know how you got on. Until next time.
~ The Cake Lady xx