This recipe for Cha Gio (Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls) features a delicious, savoury ground pork, veggie and taro root mixture wrapped up in thin wheat flour wrappers and deep fried to golden brown perfection.
One of my absolute favourite things to bring home from our trips to Edmonton, other than Green Onion Pancakes (Edmonton/Donut-Style), is Chả giò.
What is cha gio?
Cha gio is a Vietnamese fried, crispy spring roll typically wrapped with rice paper, filled with ground pork and vegetables.
They are different than Gỏi Cuốn (Vietnamese Spring Rolls) which are fresh spring/(salad) rolls that are not deep fried.
Chả giò rế is a variation of cha gio with a thin, lacy, net-like rice flour wrapper called banh trang re.
What's the difference between Chinese and Vietnamese spring rolls?
Chinese spring rolls originated with a thin wheat flour wrapper with fresh spring produce, hence the name.
They can be sweet or savoury, shallow-fried or deep-fried, and are small in size.
In Malaysia, Southeast Asia and Taiwan, these Chinese spring rolls are known as popiah, and are served fresh (not fried) filled with vegetables.
What are Chinese egg rolls?
American-style Chinese egg rolls consist of a large, thick wheat flour wrapper with a mixture of vegetables and pork that is also deep fried.
The exterior skin appears rough and bubbly.
Vietnamese cha gio is much smaller in size compared to Chinese egg rolls.
Why you'll love this recipe
Every time I visit Edmonton, I always need to get my fix of cha gio -- there's one that I always get that has a combination of taro root, wood ear mushroom and vermicelli noodles.
This recipe comes very close to it.
The savoury pork and taro filling is jam-packed with various textures -- soft, crunchy and chewy paired with the crunchy exterior.
Using wheat flour wrappers is a much easier and fool-proof way to attain beautifully-fried, crispy spring rolls, compared to using the more traditional rice paper wrappers.
You can make a large batch and easily freeze them for later.
Wheat flour wrappers vs. rice paper
Wheat flour wrappers are easy to find and result in a beautifully golden-brown spring roll.
Rice paper is traditional, however, they shatter easily and do not stay crisp for very long.
The filling may leak through the wrapper and if your filling is wet, this could be dangerous in combination with the hot frying oil.
Rice paper wrappers don't turn golden brown as easily as wheat flour wrappers.
Ingredients you'll need
- spring roll wrappers: thin sheets made of wheat flour, oil and water; they can come in square or circle sizes -- for this recipe, we're using medium sized (15cm x 15cm) square; used commonly in popiah (fresh spring rolls) or samosas; you can used store-bought wrappers for convenience, or I've linked a homemade one
- carrot: shredded
- Napa (Chinese) cabbage: shredded
- coarse sea salt: for salting the carrot and cabbage to remove excess moisture
- lean ground pork: use a mixture of 80/20 meat to fat ratio for the best flavour
- taro (about 2 baby taros, or ½ lb): shredded; a root vegetable with a starchy, sweet and nutty flavour; used in Taro Milk Bubble Tea and Steamed Taro Buns
- jicama (small): shredded, also known as Mexican yam bean; has a sweet, crisp and crunchy texture; used in Malaysian rojak, optional; you can replace with the same amount of taro
- mung bean vermicelli: also known as green mung bean thread (or cellophane noodles); is a clear-coloured thin noodle made from green mung bean. Needs to be soaked, drained and cut into 1" long pieces.
- wood ear mushrooms: also known as black wood ear or jelly ear; has a soft, jelly texture; usually sold in packages dry. Needs to be soaked in warm water, drained and julienned.
- fish sauce: a fermented sauce made with anchovies and salt, commonly used in Vietnamese cuisine, for example: Vietnamese Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham); use a high-quality fish sauce for the best flavour
- soy sauce: use a regular or light soy sauce
- fine sea salt: adds savoury flavour
- black pepper: or white pepper if you prefer
- granulated sugar: balances out the flavour
- potato starch: or cornstarch, to absorb some of the extra moisture from the vegetables
You can find all these ingredients in Asian grocery stores/supermarkets.
How to make them
Make the filling:
In a colander, combine the shredded carrot and cabbage.
Sprinkle coarse sea salt over the carrot and cabbage and massage it into the vegetables. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
Squeeze the excess water from the carrot and cabbage and place into a large bowl.
To the bowl, add in the ground pork, shredded taro and jicama, mung bean thread noodles that have been cut into 1" pieces, and julienned wood ear mushrooms. Give everything a mix (Step 1 below).
Add in the fish sauce, soy sauce, fine sea salt, black pepper, granulated sugar and potato starch. Mix well to incorporate the seasonings (Step 2 below).
Cover and store the filling in the fridge until ready to assemble.
Peel the spring roll wrappers and place onto a plate covered with a damp paper towel. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water and give it a stir. This will be the cornstarch slurry to seal the spring rolls. Set aside.
Taking one wrapper, place it on a plate with a pointed side facing down facing you (like a diamond shape).
Add about 1 heaped tablespoon of filling and add it about ⅓rd from the bottom (Step 3 below).
From the bottom, fold up the wrapper covering the filling and push back slightly to ensure there are no air pockets (Step 4 below).
Tightly roll it up almost halfway and tuck and fold in both ends of the wrapper into the centre. It should now look like an envelope (Step 5-7 below).
Dab a finger into the cornstarch slurry and dampen the seams ("triangle" at the top) and continue to roll to seal (Step 8 and 9 below).
Place the spring roll seam-side down on a large baking tray.
Repeat with the remainder.
At this point in time, you can freeze the spring rolls to fry for a later time.
Tip: I like to pop the spring rolls into the freezer for about 15-20 minutes prior to frying.
Add high smoke point frying oil to a wok, sauce pan or pot and heat to 350F.
Tip: Test the oil to see if it's hot enough by dipping a chopstick into the oil and if bubbles appear, it's ready.
Note: You may need to fry in small batches.
Add in the spring rolls (don't overcrowd the pot) and fry for 3-5 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
Drain the fried spring rolls on paper towel to rid of any excess oil.
How to serve
As with any deep fried food, serve these spring rolls freshly fried.
If you're making them ahead of time, you can fry them and then place onto a baking tray in an oven (about 200F/93C) to keep warm.
Enjoy these spring rolls as an appetizer, snack, or pair them with vermicelli noodles in a bun bowl.
You can serve cha gio with:
- Nuoc Cham: Vietnamese dipping sauce with fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and chilies
- Do Chua: pickled daikon and carrot
- fresh herbs: mint, basil
- fresh veggies: cucumbers or lettuce
How to store
It is best to freeze these cha gio uncooked.
To freeze unfried cha gio spring rolls, place them onto parchment-lined baking tray and freeze in a single layer for about a few hours until frozen.
Take the frozen spring rolls and transfer to a freezer-safe bag/container, seal well and store frozen for up to 3 months.
How to reheat
Deep fry the spring rolls until golden brown and the interior is hot -- add an additional 1-2 minutes to the frying time if frying from frozen.
Do not defrost prior to frying.
You can also air fry these spring rolls until hot and crisp, according to your air fryer manufacturer's settings.
Alternatively, you can bake the spring rolls -- place the spring rolls onto a baking tray and spray lightly with vegetable oil.
Bake the spring rolls in an 350F oven for 25-30 minutes until the interior is hot and the exterior is crisp.
Can I freeze cha gio?
Yes! Uncooked cha gio can be frozen for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe bag.
Do I need to thaw the spring rolls before frying?
No, do not thaw or defrost the spring rolls prior to frying.
How can I make them crispy again?
After frying, you can place the spring rolls on a baking tray and keep them warm them in a 300F oven. They should remain hot, crisp and crunchy.
Can I add shrimp to it?
Yes, you can add raw diced shrimp to the filling, which will give it a more toothsome, "meatier" texture.
To test the seasoning of the filling, take a small spoonful and cook it in a frying pan (or microwave it) until fully cooked. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your preference.
Don't be tempted to overfill the spring rolls or they may explode during frying.
Use a high-smoke point vegetable oil such as peanut oil or grapeseed oil for best frying results. (Don't use olive oil).
Every once in a while, add new frying oil to replenish and ensure it comes back up to frying temperature before resuming frying.
If you don't have a thermometer, use a wooden or bamboo chopstick and stick it in the hot oil -- if little bubbles appear, the oil is hot enough.
Be sure to fry in batches and do not overcrowd the pot, which can lower the overall frying temperature.
Ensure your filling isn't too wet -- if you wrap the rolls and liquid seeps out, it's too wet. Add additional cornstarch to the filling mixture and proceed.
If you prefer a drier filling, you can use the same method of salting the jicama and taro along with the cabbage and carrot, which will draw out excess moisture -- but personally, I thought the moisture level was just fine leaving the jicama and taro as is.
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Let me know if you try out this recipe -- tag me on Instagram @siftandsimmer or leave me a comment/rating below!
Cha Gio (Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls with Taro)
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- 160 g (1 ½ C) shredded carrot
- 160 g (2 C) shredded Napa cabbage
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt for extracting moisture from veggies
- 1 lb lean ground pork about 80/20 mixture of meat to fat
- 300 g (2 C) shredded taro about 2 baby taros, peeled
- 265 g (2 C) shredded jicama ½ small sized jicama, optional
- 40 g (1 pkg) mung bean vermicelli (bean thread) soaked, drained and cut into 1" long pieces
- 3 wood ear mushrooms soaked, drained and julienned
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper or white pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoon potato starch or cornstarch
- 1 pkg spring roll wrappers square size 15cm x 15 cm, or you can use homemade (link)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1-2 teaspoon water
- 2-3 C high smoke-point vegetable oil for frying such as peanut, canola or grapeseed
For key visual folding step-by-step photos, refer to body of the post.
Make the filling:
- In a colander, combine the shredded carrot and cabbage.
- Sprinkle coarse sea salt over the carrot and cabbage and massage it into the vegetables. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Squeeze the excess water from the carrot and cabbage and place into a large bowl.
- To the bowl, add in the ground pork, shredded taro and jicama, mung bean vermicelli thread that has been cut into 1" pieces, and julienned wood ear mushrooms. Give everything a mix.
- Add in the fish sauce, soy sauce, fine sea salt, black pepper, granulated sugar and potato starch. Mix well to incorporate the seasonings.
- Cover and store the filling in the fridge until ready to assemble.
- Peel the spring roll wrappers and place onto a plate covered with a damp paper towel. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water and give it a stir. This will be the cornstarch slurry to seal the spring rolls. Set aside.
- Taking one wrapper, place it on a plate with a pointed side facing down facing you.
- Add about 1 heaped tablespoon of filling and add it about ⅓rd from the bottom.
- From the bottom, fold up the wrapper covering the filling and push back slightly to ensure there are no air pockets.
- Tightly roll it up almost halfway and tuck and fold in both ends of the wrapper into the centre. It should now look like an envelope.
- Dab a finger into the cornstarch slurry and dampen the seams ("triangle" at the top) and continue to roll to seal.
- Place the spring roll seam-side down on a large baking tray.
- Repeat with the remainder.
- Add vegetable frying oil to a sauce pan or pot and heat to 350°F/177°C.
- Tip: Test the oil to see if it's hot enough by dipping a chopstick into the oil and if bubbles appear, it's ready.
- Add in the spring rolls (don't overcrowd the pot) and fry for 3-5 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
- Drain the fried spring rolls on paper towel.
- Serve immediately.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.