MAKES 50 LARGE OR 100 SMALL EGG ROLLS
Vietnamese egg rolls are one of my absolute favorite things to eat — I could easily eat them every day. Nobody made them better than my own mama, who would set aside a whole day to make them. Because prepping and cooking them was so time consuming, egg rolls were a rare treat in my home. I liked to help my mama mix the filling, breathing in the pungent aromas of garlic and fish sauce. I loved peeling the egg roll skins apart, and eventually, when I proved to be pretty good at it, she let me try my own hand at wrapping. I’ve relied on my olfactory and tactile memories to re-create those rolls here. Serve these with Fish Sauce Vinaigrette (page 178), for dipping, or do as I do and eat them straight.
- 4 ounces dried wood ear mushrooms
- 8 ounces dried bean thread noodles
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup fish sauce
- 2 large eggs
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 100 (5 x 5-inch) Filipino egg roll wrappers*
- 1 egg, beaten
- Peanut or canola oil
*Filipino egg roll wrappers are not easy to find. If you can’t find them, use rice paper wrappers instead. See “Skin Deep.”
Soak the mushrooms and noodles in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes or until tender, then finely chop.
In a large bowl, combine the pork, shrimp, onion, carrot, mushrooms, noodles, garlic, shallots, fish sauce, and eggs and season with pepper to taste. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Place a wrapper in front of you with 1 point facing you. Place 1 tablespoon of the filling on the center bottom third of the wrapper, depending on its size.
Fold the bottom corner up over the filling, pinching the skin tightly around the filling to get rid of air pockets. Fold the left corner over the filling, followed by the right. Dab a little beaten egg on the top and roll the egg roll away from you and seal it.
Pour 2 inches of oil into a heavy-bottom saucepan. Heat the oil to 350°F and deep-fry the egg rolls in batches until golden brown and crisp, turning occasionally, making sure not to overcrowd the pan so that they don’t stick together.
When shopping for the egg roll skins, try to buy the Filipino wrappers and not the Chinese ones, which are too thick and will produce a bubbly skin after frying. My grandma made even more traditional egg rolls by using Vietnamese rice paper instead of the Filipino skins; if using rice paper, soak the dehydrated rice paper in very hot water to make it pliable before wrapping. Since the rice paper is already sticky, you won’t need any egg to seal it.