Sunday, 9 May 2010

Vietnamese Nems...Mood = Rolling around

I remember the last time i ate Vietnamese food, and when it dawned on me that it had been almost 15 years, i got a little shudder of disappointment in my body. I cant believe it had been that long. I love this type of food, and feel that i have neglected my body and senses by not eating it. I remember clearly absolutely loving the nems when we used to go with my parents to this little place in Soho. We would simply order nems in abundance and this is the thought that came to my mind. I wanted to recreate the taste, and also share with my husband one of my favourite things in life.

So i opened up my cupboard and began making these little nuggets of heaven. I am not keen on store bought anything! So i decided i would make my own rolls. It is very important with these rolls that they are not smooth once cooked. they need to have little air bubbles, and this is what makes them crisp and light. Unlike the normal Chinese spring rolls.

Cha Gio literally means minced pork roll, but i used minced prawn. You can technically have any filling you like.

I made these rolls with a home made wrapper which was egg based and stuffed it with delicious fillings....

Recipe for pastry:

240g all purpose flour
120ml ice cold water
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt


  • Sift the flour into a large bowl.
  • Lightly whisk an egg with salt and stir in half of the water. Add the egg and water mix to the flour and start kneading with dough hook. Begin to insert the remaining water until you form a sticky dough.
  • Turn this dough out onto a floured surface and knead slightly more and place in a bowl to rest for half an hour.
  • When the dough is ready, cut into 4 and them roll each piece into a sausage shape, and cut into equal pieces. You can get about 12-16 pieces from this. They may seem small but you are going to roll them out quite thin and these are just appetisers.
  • Mine turned out quite big, as i had a lot of stuffing and i doubled this recipe.
  • Flatten each piece and try to roll out to a square.
  • Set aside and repeat with the rest.

Filling mix i made:

Cooked and deveined prawns
Grated garlic
Grated ginger
Chopped mint
Chopped coriander
Soy sauce
Rice vinegar
Red chili diced
Julienne of carrots
Julienne of leaks (i cooked them)
Sweet chili jam
A squeeze of lemon

  • Mix all of these together and let marinate for a while so all the flavours can become one.
  • Turn the rolled pastry that you have ready and get a corner facing you, Place the filling near the bottom and begin rolling.
  • Once you have rolled over the filling, take the two edges and fold over to secure the roll, and continue to roll till you have come to the end.
  • You can use corn starch mixed with water to seal it, but i used egg wash instead. It works just the same.
  • If you have a wok it will be perfect to cook these, but if you don't just get a pot and fill with vegetable oil. Set to medium/high heat and cook 3-4 at a time. they will only need about 50seconds to 1 minutes to turn brown. You don't want them to catch and burn and this can happen very quickly.

To make the sauce:

Rice vinegar
Chopped carrots
Chopped cucumber
Soy sauce
Sesame oil

  • Mix together and serve with crisp lettuce and fresh mint. Wrap each one in a lettuce leaf, scatter with mint and dip into the sauce.

Indulgent, delicious, exotic, flavourful, all in one bite! Who would have thought...


tasteofbeirut said...

My hat off to you for making your own rolls! Wow! You are fearless!
I read a lot of French blogs and nems are very popular there but nobody has made the pastry at home!
Yours look and taste incredible, I am drooling!

Joudie's Mood Food said...

TOB, thank you for the lovely comment... It was really fun to make these and so worth it in the end. Gobbled them down like there was no tomorrow...

Janet said...

Joudie this is highly unfair. All this lovely food and i dont know how to cook! I am going to try some of your easier recipes and then work my way to this. I love nems. Love them! Love the blog! Well done.

Joudie's Mood Food said...

Hi Janet, Its also unfair on my waistline.... :)
I hope you find the recipes easy to follow and that you will eventually make this soon. x

Anonymous said...

Loving your blog Joudie. This recipe looks great. But what if you dont want to make your own wrappers, what can you use instead? Thanks

Joudie's Mood Food said...

Hi Anon, you can buy rice paper wrappers instead which are perfect for this recipe....

Anonymous said...

what other filling do u recommend, would love to try these but hubby is alergic to prawns and im not really a port eater

Joudie's Mood Food said...

@anon, you should try this with chicken if your hubby has an allergy! It would work just as well or you caoulds just as easily make a vegetarian one with water chestnuts, mushrooms, spring greens and carrot, with some beansprouts for instance.... It would work a treat!