1 ounce dried wood ear mushrooms
⅓ pound taro root, peeled and roughly chopped
⅓ pound white or yellow onion, roughly chopped
¼ cup grapeseed, canola, vegetable, or other neutral oil, plus additional for frying and sauteing
1 pound ground pork shoulder
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
1 ¼ cups thinly sliced green onions
1 ½ tablespoons red boat fish sauce
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 packet (6-inch diameter) rice paper
1 head lettuce
1 bunch rau ram
1 bunch hot mint
1 bunch cilantro
For nước chấm dipping sauce
¼ cup red boat fish sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
⅔ cup sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 thai chili, minced
Make the filling.
1. Soak wood ear mushrooms in hot water to rehydrate and plump up, about 20 minutes. Once the mushrooms are rehydrated, rinse them well to remove any residual grit. Drain, then roughly chop the mushrooms.
2. Place the mushrooms, taro, and onions into the bowl of a food processor. Grind until all the ingredients are minced.
3. Heat ¼ cup oil in a medium skillet over medium-low flame, then transfer the minced vegetables to the skillet. Saute, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are caramelized, about 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and let cool.
4. Once the mixture is cool, add the ground pork, shrimp, green onions, fish sauce, and white and black peppers. Mix to incorporate all the ingredients. Set aside until you’re ready to roll.
Make the rolls.
5. In a mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar into 2 quarts of hot water.
6. Dip a sheet of rice paper into the hot water, just enough to moisten the rice paper and make it pliable. Shake off the excess water, then place the rice paper onto a cutting board. Spoon 1 ½ tablespoons of the filling at the bottom center of the rice paper. Fold the left and right sides of the rice paper so that they almost meet in the middle, nearly covering all the filling. Then, starting at the bottom, roll up the rice paper. Once rolled, the egg roll should resemble a small cigar.
7. Set the roll, seam side down, on a large plate or baking sheet, and repeat with the remainder of the filling.
Fry and serve the rolls.
8. Fill a cast-iron skillet or heavy-gauge pan with at least 4 inches of oil. Heat the oil to 325°F.
9. Working in batches, slowly add a few egg rolls into the oil, being careful not to crowd the skillet. The high moisture content of the uncooked rolls will cause the oil to sputter and bubble. Let the egg rolls fry for 5 minutes, then use tongs to gently pry apart any rolls that are stuck together. Turn the rolls frequently in the oil so they fry evenly on all sides.
10. When the bubbles around the rolls subside to just a few, that’s an indication that the filling is cooked through. To test if the shells are properly crisped, use tongs to squeeze the rolls. If the rolls yield to the pressure, continue frying until the cha gio shell is hard and crisp, then remove them from the oil and let drain on a wire rack set inside a baking pan. Fry the remaining rolls.
11. To serve, place the egg rolls on a large platter and set on the table with the herb plate and nuoc cham.
Make nước chấm.
12. Add fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, and 1 cup water to a small sauce pot. Bring mixture to a boil. Take the pot off the flame and add minced garlic and chilis. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
FREEZE: To freeze any leftover rolls, arrange them in a single layer on a wire rack-lined baking pan. Place the entire baking pan into the freezer for an hour. When the rolls are frozen, transfer them into a freezer bag. The egg rolls will keep in the freezer for up to a year. To reheat, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the frozen rolls onto a wire rack-lined baking pan and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the rolls are hot and crisp.