So, since it’s a holiday and I had time, I figured: heck, why not try Vietnamese food?
I thought that chả giò, the Vietnamese fried spring rolls, would make a nice challenge. Boy, did I badly understimate.
The problem is that everything is suppposed to be chopped into very small pieces. And that the rice papers, which look like this:
have to be soaked, filled with meat, and then rolled. Which looks something like this:
Well, slightly less sagging once you get it right (those are my first attempts, when I was still figuring out the rice paper part). Then you deep-fry the rolls for a bit (the deep-frying is the most time-consuming part, since everything goes in batches, and you can’t fry more than a handful of rolls at the same time). But still, those taste wonderful, even if they’re slightly bent out of shape…
And, boy, it tastes good, too. Served wrapped in salad, with a dash of dipping sauce (1 chopped garlic clove, juice of 1/2 squeezed lime, 5 tablespoons Nuoc mam, 3 tablespoons sugar, and about 15-20 cL of water, or whatever it takes to go up to a cup), it actually made for a surprisingly wonderful meal (especially considering all the bits I screwed up on the way there).
Must try that again
- 1 whole onion
- 1 taro root
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 shallot, or 3 scallions (scallions is better, but harder to find)
- 500g filling (either minced pork, crab or shrimp–I used pork, and only 200g because I screwed up)
- 6 nam meo, or wood ear mushrooms
- 70-80 g of bean thread vermicelli
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 pinch of salt and 1 pinch of pepper
- 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
- Rice papers
- Soak the bean thread vermicelli in warm water for 30 min. In a separate bowl, soak the mushrooms for 30 min.
- Peel and cut the taro root into small pieces. Slice the following ingredients into small pieces: shallots, the garlic clove, the crab/shrimp if using any, the nam meo (cut the stems off and discard, slice the rest), and the vermicelli (cut length-wise into knuckle-length pieces).
- Mix everything you’ve just cut up. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, pepper and fish sauce, and mix until you have an sort-of-even filling.
- Set up a rolling station, which consists of a large flat area of the kitchen, and a large dish to receive the rolls. Take a large bowl, fill it with 2L of warm water, and dissolve 3 tablespoons sugar into it.
- Take a rice paper, put it in the water, wait until it starts to yield under your fingers, and put it flat on your rolling surface. Put 1-2 tablespoons of the filling on the middle, fold the side towards the middle, the front of the rice paper towards the middle (into a sort of enveloppe shape), and roll into a small cylinder. Set it aside, and continue until you run out of rolls (or fillings).
- Deep-fry the rolls at 180°C for 15 minutes, or until golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
- Serve with salad and nuoc mam dipping sauce.
- Goi cuon: spring rolls
- Ga xao dam gung sa: chicken with lemongrass and macerated ginger
- Banh uot thit nuong: lemongrass beef with sesame seeds