Shrimp and Crab Eggrolls (Cha Gio Recipe)

Shrimp and Crab Eggrolls (Cha Gio Recipe) Recipe

We're two days away from Tết (Vietnamese New Year). Every year, Maman's specialty was to prepare eggrolls. In my opinion, she makes the best eggrolls (chả giò in Vietnamese) I've ever had. Of course, I'm a little biased. To find my mom's authentic recipe, check it out in my second cookbook Banh Mi.

For this version, I prepared a seafood filling with shrimp and crab and loads of flavorful mushrooms. I've posted a vegetarian version in the past for you if you need it. 

The countdown is nearly over and we'll soon be starting the year of the horse!

Ingredients

Yields: 8 servings

1-½ pounds ground chicken (see tips), freshly ground
6 ounces shrimp, peeled, deveined and pound
½ cup canola oil (or any neutral oil), as needed
½ teaspoon salt
10 dried wood ear mushrooms, rehydrated in lukewarm water, drained and chopped
¼ cup leeks (green part only), finely chopped
1 carrot, very finely chopped
1 (2-ounce) package dried bean thread noodles
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon mushroom seasoning salt (or regular salt)
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
½ cup crab meat
2 packages frozen eggroll wrappers


Directions

Prepping the chicken: In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, fried onions, leeks and ginger. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

For the dried bean thread noodles: Place the whole package of dried bean thread noodles in a bowl. Don't forget to remove and discard the little threads! Soak the noodles in lukewarm water for 10 minutes, then drain. Cut into 1 inch threads. Set aside.

Making eggroll filling: Add shrimp to the chicken mixture. Mix well. Add carrots, shallots, bean thread noodles and wood ear mushrooms to the meat mixture. Sprinkle with mushroom powder. Mix well. Refrigerate the mixture until you're ready to wrap the eggrolls.

Key for proper seasoning: In a small pan, heat about 1 teaspoon of oil. Add about 1 tablespoon of the filling mixture. Cook for about 3 minutes. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary.


Assembly:

Get a bowl filled with cold water ready.

Cut the eggroll wrappers into 2 triangles and separate them. They're sold in packages of 30 squares that are stuck together.

Place about 2-3 teaspoons of the eggroll filling at the base of the triangle. Add less than a teaspoon of crab meat against the meat mixture. Moisten one of the corners and fold it along the base towards the other corner along the base so that it just covers the filling. Then roll the wrapper once towards the top corner. Repeat with the other corner that is along the base. Moisten the exposed top corner with water using your finger, then finish rolling. 

Once a plate is full of uncooked eggrolls, you can either cover with plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator overnight or in the freezer for up to a month. Once you're ready to cook them, fill a large frying pan with any neutral oil about 2 inches high. Make sure your pan is tall enough so that there is enough room to add the eggrolls without the oil overflowing. Place the eggrolls in the hot oil one at a time, seam side down. You will see bubbles. As soon as each eggroll turns slightly golden, rotate it. When the eggrolls are even and golden all the way around, remove from the pan and place on a paper towel to drain the oil. They should be golden, crispy and delicious.

You can serve them as appetizers (paired with a flavorful dipping sauce) or as a main course.

If served as a main course, simply wrap the eggrolls in lettuce with cooked thin rice vermicelli noodles (called bún) and Vietnamese mint.  Serve with a dipping sauce (fermented fish sauce base called nước mắm) and Sriracha.

Bon appétit!


Tips

I prefer to use dark meat (chicken thighs); I find the result is more moist because dark meat has more fat than chicken breasts. I usually grind the meat using the attachment of my KitchenAid. Just make sure to remove all the bones prior to grinding!

I also make eggrolls with veal, which are amazingly delicious.

The eggroll filling can be tailored to suit your favorite flavorings. You could also use water chestnut, taro, shiitake mushrooms, tofu or potatoes. The possibilities are endless.

If you can't find frozen eggroll wrappers, you can substitute bánh tráng (dried rice paper sheets). They're as good, but maybe a little greasier. That was how my mom used to make eggrolls. Fill a bowl with beer and add a teaspoon of baking powder. Brush each bánh tráng with the beer mixture then let dry for about 2 minutes on paper towels. Then continue as you would with the frozen eggroll wrappers. Personally I prefer the frozen ones; it's a big time saver, which is important since making eggrolls is time-consuming to begin with.

Mushroom seasoning salt adds a very distinct, earthy flavor to the broth. You can find it in gourmet specialty stores or in most Korean stores. I buy mine at Marina Foods -10122 Bandley drive, Cupertino, CA 95014.

For optimum results when heating the frying oil, the thermometer should register 345°F to 360°F. Heat the oil over medium to high heat (for a nice golden color).

You can find all the ingredients listed in most Asian stores.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on January 29, 2014.


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