Monday, February 18, 2019

Crispy Rolls (Cha Gio)

I posted a few photos (see below) from this post on my Facebook page with a joking caption, "New menu items coming soon to Green Crab Cafe!!". My friend/colleague, Sue commented, "Boy this one is a tough sell!!" What do you think?!

In my family we have a variety of different fillings for these type of crispy rolls known in Vietnamese as chả giò. This one is popular in Vietnam minus the crab roe and the little crabs clinging to the sides! The ratio of crab meat, shrimp and pork is based on the individual preference. You may find the water chestnuts, bean thread noodles and wood ear fungus in any Asian markets. Some people prefer this filling either more salty or sweet; adjust the seasoning according to your taste preference. My filling is mild--not too salty or sweet so these rolls can be dipped in a sauce.

These can be eaten as snacks, appetizers or even with rice or noodles. For a light meal (see below) I add lettuce, cucumber, bean sprouts, fresh herbs, Vietnamese Pickled Vegetables, unsalted roasted peanuts (see recipe below) on cooked rice noodles (bún) with a drizzle of sauce (see recipe below).

noodle bowl with crispy rolls
crispy rolls using spring roll wrappers
crispy rolls made from rice papers

Crispy Rolls (Chả Giò)


Seafood and Meat Filling (see recipe below)
24 to 48 small green crabs (preferably less than 1 inch; may use soft, semi-soft to hard shell crabs)
4 sheets of rice paper or bánh tráng in Vietnamese (25 cm or about 10 inch diameter)
10 spring roll wrappers (6 1/2 inch x 6 1/2 inch)
1 (chicken) egg yolk, glue for sealing and attaching the whole crabs
Oil (such as vegetable or peanut) for deep frying


Rub the crabs with about 2 teaspoons of salt and wash them well with cold water.

Divide the 12 ounces of filling into 4 parts. Wet one rice paper on both sides with a little warm water. Wipe off any excess water with your hand. Spread 1 part of the filling across the lower third of the sheet and roll tightly into a thin log (about 1 inch in diameter). Use a serrated or sharp knife to cut the log into 6 smaller pieces. Press (with the flat part of a knife) any overflowing stuffing back into the ends of each piece if needed. Take a small crab, dip the belly with some egg yolk and attach it at the end of each piece. Do the same with the other end if using 2 crabs per piece. Repeat until all the filling is used. Set the pieces on parchment paper without touching. The parchment paper will prevent them from sticking to the bottom.

log roll with rice paper
cut pieces with crabs attached on both ends

Divide the 1 pound of filling into 10 parts. Lie one wrapper with the tip pointing towards you. Brush about 2 inches of the opposite tip with some egg yolk. Spread 1 part of the filling on the lower third of the wrapper. Tightly roll the tip away from you, fold in the sides and continue to roll tightly to seal. Repeat until the all the filling is used.

rolls with spring roll wrappers
Preheat the oil until it reaches about 350-375 degrees F. Drop a few rolls at a time and fry for about 3 minutes for the smaller pieces (those with rice paper) and about 4-5 minutes for the larger rolls (those with spring roll wrappers). Remove the rolls onto clean paper towels or a strainer.

fried rolls with a rice paper
seafood and meat filling

Seafood and Meat Filling (makes about 1 lb and 12 oz)


8 oz crab meat
6 oz shrimp, chopped
4 oz ground pork (may substitute with chicken, turkey or another meat)
2 oz uncooked green crab roe, rinsed, strained out liquid
5 oz water chestnuts (may substitute with taro or jicama), chopped
1 carrot, peeled, grated and squeezed out liquid
1 scallion, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 oz bean thread noodles (cellophane noodles), soaked in warm water about 15-20 minutes or until soft, squeezed out liquid
2 Tbsp dried wood ear fungus, soaked in warm water about 15-20 minutes or until soft, squeezed out liquid
1/2 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
2-3 garlic cloves, smashed, minced
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Sprinkles of onion powder
Sprinkles of garlic powder


In a large bowl add crab meat, shrimp, pork, crab roe, water chestnuts, carrot, scallion, bean thread noodles, black fungus, onion, garlic (both fresh and powder) and season with fish sauce, chicken stock powder, sugar, salt and black pepper. Mix all ingredients until everything has incorporated evenly. Keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Vietnamese seasoned fish sauce

Every Vietnamese home has this house-made dipping sauce. This sauce should have a balance of saltiness, sweetness and tartness. The saltiness comes from fish sauce, sweetness from sugar, and the tartness from either vinegar, lime or lemon juice. Some people like it spicy. Some like it very sweet. If you are one of these people then load up on the chili peppers or extra sugar. Mine tends to be on the sour side. Typically I make my sauce with the same ingredients as my mother's as it is more versatile and has longer shelf life. She usually makes huge jars of sauce (to give to my siblings and me) and does not add garlic, chilies or water and her sauce can last for months to over a year. She omits chilies so everyone can eat it. When we scoop some from the jar to eat we have a preference to add finely chopped chili and garlic. Most people I know including my mother make this without a recipe and they always come out consistent every time. Feel free to adjust your seasoning according to your preference. If you find this sauce to be too strong then dilute it with a little water or fresh coconut water.

Vietnamese Seasoned Fish Sauce--makes about 3/4 cup


1 small carrot, shredded (about 1/2 cup shredded)
3 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 garlic cloves, smashed, finely chopped (optional)
1-2 chilies, finely chopped (optional)


Mix carrot, sugar, vinegar and fish sauce and adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Add garlic and chilies if interested.

roasted unsalted peanuts
Roasted Peanuts  


Raw peanuts (with or without the skin), shells removed
Preheat a toaster oven to 300 degrees. Place peanuts on a baking sheet. Bake the peanuts for 10 minutes or until golden brown, stir every 2-3 minutes to prevent burning.


Roast the peanuts (in a small frying pan without oil) over medium heat on a stove top. Use a pair of chopsticks or spatula and move the peanuts around until they are golden brown. Once the peanuts are roasted and cooled, lightly crush them with your palms to remove the skin. When you are ready to eat coursely crush them.

Helpful Hints:

*You may substitute water chestnuts for jicama or taro. I actually prefer jicama or taro but the fresh ones are difficult to find in New Hampshire. For this recipe I use canned water chestnuts. You may substitute dried wood ear fungus (also known as cloud ear fungus or tree ear fungus) for another dried mushrooms. I find that the dried mushrooms tend to have more earthy flavor and meaty texture than the fresh ones. You may substitute ground pork for chicken, turkey or another meat
*Cut the rehydrated bean thread noodles into 1/2 inch lengths. If your mushrooms have not been sliced then rehydrate a whole one, slice thinly and cut into 1/2 inch lengths.
*It is best to remove excess liquid by squeezing the shredded carrots, bean thread noodles, and mushrooms. The extra liquid will make the rolls soggy which is not ideal for deep frying. If possible it is best to use fresh ingredients and not canned or frozen.
*Unlike the spring roll wrappers, when deep fried, the rice papers will not turn golden brown.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Vietnamese Crab and Asparagus Soup (Sup Mang Cua)

Apparently Vietnamese crab and asparagus soup (súp măng cua) is a popular soup eaten on special occasions such as wedding banquets in Vietna...