Rice paper rolls are sometimes called spring rolls by many people. But spring roll is an entirely different food called Chả Giò (Cha Gio) or Nem (the Vietnamese name for spring rolls). It is a deep fried pastry roll filled with meat, prawn, vegetable,… It’s another well known food to Vietnam. According to Bui Thi Suong in her book “Chả Giò Ba miền” (temporarily translated as Spring Rolls in Three Vietnamese regions), spring roll is the most English popular name for this fried roll.
Rice paper rolls and “cha gio” are foods that people think of when they think of Vietnamese food. When you think of Vietnam, you think of rice paper rolls, Pho and Cha Gio. This is similar to when you think of other countries like Italy, Japan and Korea. These countries have their own signature foods. Other Asian countries have their own version of spring roll. They use different ingredients for the filling and wrapper. Vietnamese spring rolls (Cha Gio or Nem) mostly use Vietnamese rice paper as the wrapper, making the roll a unique crunchy when tasting.
This (spring roll) is different from rice paper rolls in terms of ingredients and how to prepare it. The first difference is that the wrapper, made of rice paper, is softened by dipping it in water. No cooking is required. The second difference is that fresh vegetables, vermicelli noodles and cooked protein are the most common fillings in rice paper rolls. After you wrap up the rice paper roll, you can eat it immediately, and taste the fresh and crunchy vegetables.
Compared to rice paper rolls, spring roll has a different preparation and cooking method. The spring roll filling is made with uncooked ingredients (meat, prawn, crab, vegetables…). The filling is combined into a paste consistency. It is then wrapped up and sealed with Vietnamese-spring-roll rice paper before being deep fried. The spring roll is cooked through by deed frying and removed from the oil. When it’s not too hot for you to hold, that is the best time to take a bite.