Wrapping Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Cha Gio) for Frying

  • 01 of 08

    Prepare to Fry Spring Rolls

    Fried spring rolls
    The Spruce / Molly Watson

    Cha Gio, Vietnamese spring rolls, are eaten either fresh and uncooked or fried. Before doing either they need to be folded and rolled in a particular way. Wrapping up a spring roll may look difficult, but it is really quite easy once you get the hang of it. After wrapping a few, you will start to feel like an expert.

    Before you start, you will need to make the filling for the Vietnamese Spring Roll:

    • 1 small head cabbage (shredded and cooked)
    • 2 ounces shiitakes (thinly sliced and cooked)
    • 2 cooked diced shallots
    • 1/2 pound ground pork
    • 1/2 pound shrimp (minced)

    You also need 24 dry rice paper wrappers (6.3-inch/16cm or 8.7-inch/22cm diameter) and a bowl or rimmed plate of water.

    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    Set up for Soaking and Filling the Rice Paper Wrappers

    Rolling set up
    The Spruce / Molly Watson

    Set up your filling, water, and rice wrappers. The dried rice paper wrapper needs to be softened before wrapping. To do this, fill a shallow bowl with some tap or filtered water (some people add a tablespoon or so of sugar or mix the water with rice wine to help the wrappers brown when they're fried).

    Take one rice paper wrapper and immerse it completely in the water. Make sure that the wrapper is completely wet. Wait about 30 seconds for the wrapper to soften. It will turn malleable and start to stick to the plate but that’s ok. 

    Note: If you use warm water, the paper will soften considerably faster. However, this may not work in your favor if you are new at it.

    Continue to 3 of 8 below.
  • 03 of 08

    Fill the Moistened Rice Wrapper

    Filling on rice paper
    The Spruce / Molly Watson

    Put the wet wrapper on a large empty plate or cutting board. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling about 1 inch from the edge of the wrapper, on the side closest to you. Using the back of a spoon, press the filling flat into the shape of a small chocolate bar.

    Continue to 4 of 8 below.
  • 04 of 08

    Folding the Wrapper Forward

    First fold
    The Spruce / Molly Watson

    Begin the folding process. First, fold the edge of the wrapper closest to you so that it covers the filling. Make sure that this first fold completely covers the filling, and pull the edge of the fold slightly under the filling making a taut, small parcel.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Folding the Sides

    Sides folded in
    The Spruce / Molly Watson

    Next, fold one side. Using both your hands, fold the right side of the wrapper toward the center, stopping where the filling is. Do the same with the other side—fold the left side of the wrapper toward the center, stopping where the filling is.

    Continue to 6 of 8 below.
  • 06 of 08

    Keep Folding Forward

    Rolling up
    The Spruce / Molly Watson

    Continue folding the wrapper by grabbing the enclosed filling and turning it over until it reaches the end of the wrapper. Check all sides to make sure there are no loose ends on the wrapper. This ensures the filling won't escape when frying.

    Continue to 7 of 8 below.
  • 07 of 08

    Ready to be Fried

    Rolls prepped
    The Spruce / Molly Watson

    Now your Vietnamese spring roll is ready to be fried.

    If you’re not going to fry the spring rolls right away, line them all up on a plate and cover with plastic wrap so that they do not dry up. Make sure that the spring rolls do not touch each other, as they can be a bit sticky and may tear if you need to pull them apart. Alternatively, you may freeze the wrapped spring rolls to be cooked at another time.

    If there is any leftover filling, you can always freeze it for another Vietnamese spring roll occasion.

    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    Fry Away

    Frying rolls
    The Spruce / Molly Watson

    You can fully deep fry the rolls if you have a deep fryer and/or enough oil. It is also possible to "shallow fry" the rolls by filling a pot with about 1 inch of peanut, canola, or other frying oil. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until the oil measures about 350 F, reduce the heat to low-medium to maintain the temperature. Add only as many rolls as will fit in a single layer without touching. Fry on each side until blistered and browned. Drain on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet or on layers of paper towels. Repeat in batches until all rolls are fried.

    Serve with fresh lettuce, mint, cilantro, and basil, as well as nuoc cham dipping sauce