Traditional Vietnamese fried spring rolls or “Cha Gio” get a gluten-free, vegetable and herb makeover in this recipe. Traditionally, spring rolls are made with meat, wood-ear mushrooms, carrots and bean thread noodles wrapped in wonton skins or another flour-based wrap. If you are looking to avoid gluten, this recipe is for you.
I’ve used Vietnamese rice paper rounds or “banh trang” usually made with rice flour and tapioca flour become translucent when soaked in water. You can easily skip the frying step for something a bit more healthy and refreshing (just chill them in the fridge for two hours when assembled, but believe me when I say these rolls are seriously delicious when crispy). Instead of meat, I've stuffed these delicious rolls with fresh herbs and vegetables.
Rice paper wraps can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store or online quite easily. Practice working with them before you dive into stuffing and assembling these spring rolls as the texture takes some getting used to. You’ll need to rehydrate each wrap individually by soaking it in warm water for 10 seconds.
Gluten-Free Pan-Fried Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Makes 10 rolls
10 rice paper spring roll wrappers
2 servings rice noodles or mung bean threads (to make 2 cups cooked)
2 carrots (use a mix of orange and purple carrots for more color)
5 large fresh shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and de-stemmed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup safflower oil
20 mint leaves
For the dipping sauce:
2 tablespoons lime juice (from 1 lime)
1 tablespoon fish sauce (replace with 1 teaspoon reduced sodium soy sauce for vegan version)
½ teaspoon sugar
1 glove garlic, finely minced
1 shishito pepper or thai chili
From the Organic Authority Files
Make the dipping sauce by thinly slicing 5 ribbons of a hot pepper and adding it to a bowl with the lime juice, fish sauce, garlic and sugar. Chill in the fridge until you’re ready to serve, up to 2 days.
Thinly slice the shiitake mushrooms and add to a small skillet with the sesame oil and soy sauce over medium heat. Cook for 3-5 minutes until slightly browned. Set aside to cool.
Bring 4 cups of water to boil and quickly cook the rice noodles according to the package directions (usually 5 minutes) drain and run under cold water, set aside.
Peel the carrots and use a vegetable peeler to create very fine ribbons, about 4 inches long. Slice the green parts of the scallions into 4-inch pieces.
Assemble the spring rolls by soaking 1 rice paper wrap in warm water for about 20 seconds. When the wrap becomes soft and noodle like, carefully remove it to a plate or cutting board, flattening it out as best you can. Stack 3 scallion pieces, a few carrot ribbons and two mint leave in a pile centered at the bottom of the circle. Add a few pieces of mushroom and shape a tiny pile of noodles on top. Your piles should resemble the shape of the spring roll, about an inch high and 4 inches long. Carefully begin to roll the rice wrap tightly over the vegetables twice, moving away from you. Then fold over the sides and continue to roll in the same direction like you would a burrito. Repeat until you’ve used all the ingredients.
Store the wrapped spring rolls on a plate apart from each other so they don’t stick. Add a splash of water if they do stick.
Clean the same small skillet you used to cook the mushrooms and heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add two spring rolls at a time. Cook without disturbing on one side for two minutes, then use a spatula to turn and cook on another side. Continue cooking and turning the spring rolls until all sides are crispy. Repeat until all rolls are cooked and serve with dipping sauce.
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Photos by Ally-Jane