Do you remember the old Vietnamese Restaurant at Franklin and Curtis roads in Boise? Cooking instructor Marti Miller’s mother, Nhu Lofstedt, operated the popular restaurant for nearly a quarter-century before she died in 2000.

Nhu’s egg rolls, spring rolls, soups and stir-fried dishes were quite popular. Even after closing, people still talk about the memorable egg rolls. She thought, there’s no better way to honor her mother, than to teach people how to cook her beloved dishes.

Unlike Chinese egg rolls, which are wrapped in a skin made from flour and eggs, the Vietnamese version gets wrapped in a paper shell made from rice. That makes them thinner and lighter.

Her recipe combines ground pork, shrimp, jicama, onions, carrots, wood ear mushrooms and bean thread noodles, along with eggs, salt, pepper and sugar.

She teaches people how to make the egg rolls her family had enjoyed for years.

If you are one of the many who miss those popular egg rolls, you can now make them at home!

Vietnamese egg rolls (cha gio)

Makes: 20 to 25 egg rolls. Prep time: 45 minutes. Total time: 90 minutes

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1/4 pound shrimp, minced or ground in a food processor
  • 1 medium jicama, shredded
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1/4 cup wood ear mushroom, soaked
  • 1/2 cup bean thread noodle, soaked and cut
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package (25 pieces) rice paper

Soak the dried wood ear mushrooms and bean thread noodles in hot tap water. Soak for 10 minutes and drain in colander. Using kitchen scissors, cut noodles into pieces one to two inches long. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground pork, onions, mushrooms, jicama, carrots, salt and pepper. Mix until thoroughly combined. Do not overmix, as it will become too dense. Use your hands or a fork to gently mix together.

Microwave a tablespoon of the mixture for about 30 seconds and adjust seasoning to your taste.

Dip the rice paper in cool water for a few seconds. Drain and set on cutting board.

Place about two tablespoons of filling onto the edge of the wrapper and roll once. Fold in the sides and continue to roll.

Fill a heavy pot with about 2 1/2 inches of vegetable oil and heat to 350 degrees. Fry in small batches until golden brown, five to six minutes, turning as needed. Place on cooling rack

Notes: Do not overfill and roll as tightly as possible. Otherwise, the rice paper could open up while cooking. Do not allow the rolls to touch each other while cooking or they will stick together. Rice paper will never brown as dark as flour-based wrappers.

In Vietnam, egg rolls are served wrapped in a lettuce leaf topped with cucumber, cilantro and mint. Dip in dipping sauce.

Dipping sauce (nuoc cham)

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon rice or plain vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 jalapeno or other hot pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, or to taste
  • 1/8 cup fish sauce, or to taste

Add water and sugar over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Turn off heat.

Add lime juice and vinegar. It should taste like a bland lime-ade.

Crush the garlic and chiles together and add to the mixture.

Slowly add the fish sauce a few tablespoons at a time.

For a spicier sauce, add some chile garlic sauce. Pickled carrots and daikon are traditional additions for the sauce.