Crispy Vietnamese spring rolls (Cha gio)

9 May

My grandmother always visited my parents’ home every year to take advantage of the tropical “winter.” One of my most treasured memories is sitting in the kitchen with her, my aunt and my mother wetting rice paper, placing the sheets between kitchen towels and rolling up “spring rolls.” Everyone would then gather once they had been fried, to roll them in lettuce with herbs and dip them in nuoc mam for a big chomp. My grandmother and aunt would make several batches during their visit, enough for my mom to pack up and freeze. We would then re-crisp them in the toaster oven and remember the warmth of the winter.

Here, not cooking for half-a dozen people, I decided to save the filling by itself – in the refrigerator or freezing for more than a few days. For a quick on-the-verge-of-getting-sick dinner alone, I made a few meatballs and simmered them in chicken broth with some noodles. I didn’t have to call in sick the next day. Not too shabby. I also made these for lunch a few days later – there’s something calming about rolling spring rolls when the world is whirling by. Keep reading…