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Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls – Nems (Better than Takeout!)

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Fried crispy outside, filled with a flavorful mix of vegetables and ground pork, this fried spring rolls recipe will definitely make your way into your favorite appetizer list!

spring rolls fried vietnamese nems pork filling crispy rice paper

What are Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls?

There are two types of Vietnamese spring rolls: fresh or fried. In Vietnamese, the fried spring rolls are called chả nem, chả giò, or nem rán according to the region in Vietnam. In English, naming it spring roll can be confusing if the difference between fresh and fried is not made. As for French we simply call them nems, while we call the fresh version spring roll :’) This is sometimes quite funny how all languages have their own translations. We can easily get lost in translation when speaking about the food of foreign cuisines, right?

Here in Belgium, Vietnamese cuisine is one of the most present Asian cuisines, together with Chinese. Therefore I have known spring rolls since very little. They were sold by a Vietnamese merchant on the Saturday market of my small town.

Vietnamese fried spring rolls are normally served with a sauce – nuoc cham – made of fish sauce. Sometimes you will find it with shredded carrots. I love adding red chili to the sauce, making it a little spicy.

Once you’ve learned how to roll the spring rolls, you’d be surprised how quickly a big batch is done. Homemade fried spring rolls are no match compared to the store-bought ones you find in the frozen section. Trust me, make this recipe once, and you’ll never buy them again.

Which ingredients do I need to make Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls?

  • rice paper wrappers – I use wrappers that are 22 cm in diameter. This size of wrapper is perfect for making medium-sized fried spring rolls. Be aware, wrappers made out of pastry and egg are used for Chinese spring rolls, not the Vietnamese ones.
  • cooking oil – if using your fryer to fry spring rolls, make sure to leave the basket down, especially for the first fry, spring rolls could stick to the bottom of the basket, and rice paper is extremely sticky.
  • lettuce – serve with lettuce. I like to wrap the spring roll with lettuce before dipping it.

filling

  • ground pork – pork is the traditional meat used to make Vietnamese fried spring rolls
  • fish sauce – fish sauce is the main seasoning of the filling
  • vermicelli or glass noodles – both of them can be used. I had vermicelli at home this time, but fried spring rolls are also incredible with glass noodles (don’t use Korean glass noodles, they aren’t appropriate for this purpose). Use scissors to chop vermicelli or glass noodles into small bits so that they properly mix with the rest of the filling.
  • onion
  • carrots – shred some fresh carrots, you can use some all-ready and shredded carrot packs but they won’t taste as fresh. I always go for fresh carrots.
  • dried wood ear mushrooms – dehydrate the wood ear mushrooms in boiling water then chop them finely.
  • bean sprouts – bean sprouts together with carrots and wood ear mushrooms are the most common vegetables used in traditional Vietnamese fried spring rolls.
  • eggs – beat the eggs and mix them in the filling, they help hold the filling together.
  • garlic
  • black pepper
  • salt

dipping sauce

  • sugar – use white sugar to give the dipping sauce a sweet taste.
  • white vinegar – you could substitute it with rice vinegar.
  • fish sauce – main ingredient of the dipping sauce, do not omit fish sauce.
  • water
  • garlic – garlic is pretty strong here in Belgium, I only use one small clove. In some countries where I’ve lived, garlic is much softer in taste, in this case, feel free to adjust the quantity. Or skip garlic if you do not enjoy a garlicky taste. Especially because we mix in raw garlic in this sauce.
  • red chilies – I love using small red chilies (spicier than the big ones) to give my sauce a kick.
  • lime juice – I add a pinch of lime to give it some extra flavor.

Frying the Spring Rolls

Rice paper wrappers are extremely sticky, therefore whether you’re using a fryer or a pan to fry them, make sure that they do not touch each other while frying. Fry them in small batches. I double-fry spring rolls for extra crunchiness, so if you wish to freeze some of them, make sure to fry them only once for 5 minutes. You will double-fry them when ready to use.

How to prepare Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls?

Prepare the dipping sauce

  1. In a saucepan, bring to a boil sugar, white vinegar, fish sauce and water. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat. Transfer the sauce into a bowl, then add garlic and chilies. Give it a stir, then refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.

Make the spring rolls filling

  1. Let the dried shiitake mushrooms soak in boiling water for 15 minutes. Then chop the shiitake mushrooms into small bits.
  1. Soak the vermicelli in cold water for 10 minutes. Drain the water once they’re softer and chop them with scissors.
  1. Prepare the filling by mixing all filling ingredients together.

Roll the spring rolls

  1. Prepare a large bowl of warm water (bigger than the size of your rice paper). Soak the rice paper until it softens.
  1. Place the rice paper on a clean and wet kitchen towel – that will absorb the excess water and avoid the rice paper from sticking.
  2. Place 1 tbsp of filling in a log shape on one border.
  3. Fold the left side of the rice paper to cover the filling. Then fold the right side onto the filling. Lift the bottom side of the rice paper and roll it tightly around the filling. Keep rolling it up to the end. The end of the spring roll will seal by itself as the rice paper is sticky.
  1. Place your spring rolls onto another clean kitchen towel to avoid them from sticking to the surface. Make sure they do not touch each other as they are very sticky.
  1. Heat some cooking oil or use a fryer. Fry spring rolls at 180°C (360°F) for 5 minutes. Do not overcrowd your pan or fryer, the spring rolls stick to each other easily.
  1. Remove the spring rolls from the oil and place them on a paper towel to absorb excess oil and cool down (at this point, you can freeze them if you wish).
  1. Fry the spring rolls a second time for 2 minutes. If they are frozen, fry them for 3 minutes.
  1. Serve with dipping sauce and some lettuce leaves.

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spring rolls fried vietnamese nems pork filling crispy rice paper

Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls – Nems

Fried crispy outside and filled with a flavorful mix of vegetables and ground pork, this fried spring rolls recipe will definitely make your way into your favorite appetizer list!
5 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 34 spring rolls
Calories per serving: 111kcal
Author: Emma Choi

Ingredients

  • 34 rice paper sheets | 22 cm / 8.6" diameter
  • cooking oil
  • lettuce

filling

  • 400 g ground pork
  • 6 tbsp fish sauce
  • 60 g vermicelli or glass noodles
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, julienne
  • 6 dried wood ear mushrooms
  • 140 g bean sprouts
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • black pepper
  • salt

dipping sauce

  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 125 ml water
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 small red chilies, chopped
  • 1 tsp lime juice

Instructions

Prepare the dipping sauce

  • In a saucepan, bring to a boil sugar, white vinegar, fish sauce and water. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat. Transfer the sauce into a bowl, then add garlic and chilies. Give it a stir, then refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.

Make the spring rolls filling

  • Let the dried wood ear mushrooms soak in boiling water for 15 minutes. Then chop the mushrooms into small bits.
  • Soak the vermicelli in cold water for 10 minutes. Drain the water once they’re softer and chop them with scissors.
  • Prepare the filling by mixing all filling ingredients together.

Roll the spring rolls

  • Prepare a large bowl of warm water (bigger than the size of your rice paper). Soak the rice paper until it softens.
  • Place the rice paper on a clean and wet kitchen towel – that will absorb the excess water and avoid the rice paper from sticking.
  • Place 1 tbsp of filling in a log shape on one border. (Note 1)
  • Fold the left side of the rice paper to cover the filling. Then fold the right side onto the filling. Lift the bottom side of the rice paper and roll it tightly around the filling. Keep rolling it up to the end. The end of the spring roll will seal by itself as the rice paper is sticky.
  • Place your spring rolls onto another clean kitchen towel to avoid them from sticking to the surface. Make sure they do not touch each other as they are very sticky.
  • Heat some cooking oil or use a fryer. Fry spring rolls at 180°C (360°F) for 5 minutes. Do not overcrowd your pan or fryer, the spring rolls stick to each other easily.
  • Remove spring rolls from the oil and place them on a paper towel to absorb excess oil and cool down (at this point, you can freeze them if you wish).
  • Fry the spring rolls a second time for 2 minutes. If they are frozen, fry them for 3 minutes.
  • Serve with dipping sauce and some lettuce leaves.

Notes

  1. Spring roll size: don’t make spring rolls too big, 1 tbsp filling is sufficient. They tend to blow in size once cooked.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1 servingCalories: 111kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 5gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.5gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.002gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 466mgPotassium: 105mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 658IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 19mgIron: 1mg
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