Vietnamese cha gio

Jill Dupleix
Photo: Marina Oliphant

These crisp spring rolls are best rolled small and tight rather than large and loose. Add 100 grams of fresh prawn or crab meat if you're feeling fancy, and serve with lime or lemon wedges.


4 dried shiitake mushrooms

50g cellophane (beanthread) noodles

1 carrot, peeled and grated

250g minced pork

1 medium onion, grated and squeezed dry

1 garlic clove, grated

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp cornflour

1 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

1 pack small spring roll wrappers, thawed

Vegetable oil for deep-frying

1 iceberg or baby cos lettuce, leaves separated and chilled

1/2 bunch mint

1/2 bunch Thai basil

Dipping sauce

3 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp lime juice

2 tsp white sugar

3 tbsp water

1 garlic clove, finely grated

1 mild red chilli, sliced


Cover shiitake with boiling water and soak for 30 minutes. Drain and finely dice, discarding stalks. Cover noodles with boiling water and leave to stand for five minutes. Drain and snip into short lengths. Combine dipping sauce ingredients with half the grated carrot and refrigerate.

Mix minced pork with onion, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar, cornflour, fish sauce, coriander, mushrooms, noodles and remaining grated carrot. Place one tablespoon of filling in a row near the corner of a wrapper (not in the middle) and fold the corner over the filling, pinching the filling tight. Fold in sides, then roll up tightly. Brush the tip with water to help it stick.

Heat oil until a cube of bread turns golden in 15 seconds. Fry rolls a few at a time for three minutes, turning once, until golden. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with lettuce leaves, herbs and the dipping sauce. To eat, wrap each roll in a leaf, tuck in some herbs and dip in the sauce.