A Recipe from Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s Kitchen


I love making this easy and delicious recipe for my family. Your book club members can make this together. This recipe yields 16 spring rolls (4 pieces per person).  

For the spring rolls: 

1 package (2 oz) dried glass noodles 

6 dry or fresh wood ear mushrooms  

1 pound ground pork 

6 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined, finely chopped 

2 cup grated fresh carrots 

4 tablespoons minced shallot 

2 garlic cloves, minced 

1/4 teaspoon salt 

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

2 tablespoons fish sauce 

1 extra-large egg 

16 pieces rice paper (I use frozen spring roll wrappers, medium size. They are commonly sold in Asian supermarkets). 

3 cups oil, for frying 

For the dipping sauce: 

½ cup warm water 

3 tablespoons sugar 

3 tablespoons fish sauce 

3 tablespoons lime juice 

2 garlic cloves, minced 

1 small red chile, finely chopped (optional) 

Preparation and cooking: 

Take the frozen spring roll wrappers out of the fridge 30 minutes before you start wrapping. 

Soak the dried glass noodles in a bowl of warm water until soft, then chop into small pieces. Soak the wood ear mushrooms in hot water for 7 minutes, then finely chop. In a large bowl, mix the noodles and mushrooms with the ground pork, chopped shrimps, grated carrots, shallots, and garlic for the filling. Add the salt, pepper, fish sauce and egg. Mix well.  

Peel one wrapper from the package and put it onto a clean plate. 

Put two tablespoons of the filling onto the lower third of the wrapper and shape into a log. Gently pull the bottom edge of the wrapper over the filling, careful not to trap any air between the wrapper and the filling. Fold each side of the wrapper toward the middle of the spring roll and press down lightly on each end to eliminate air bubbles before rolling it forward again. Roll it one turn forward at a time, folding the sides in each time, until you reach the other edge of the wrapper.  

Heat the oil on high heat and then reduce to medium. Add the spring rolls, turning them so all sides are golden. Remove from the oil and let the oil drain off on paper towels.   

For the dipping sauce 

Mix the water, sugar, fish sauce and lime juice well. Once done, add the minced garlic and chile (they will float if you add them last).  

*Ensure the pork and shrimp are cooked to their USDA recommended internal temperature.  

*For a vegetarian option, replace the pork and shrimp with cooked dry split peas and vegetables. 

Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

About the Author

Born and raised in Việt Nam, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai is the author of The Mountains Sing, runner-up for the 2021 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, winner of the 2020 BookBrowse Best Debut Award, the 2021 International Book Awards, the 2021 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award, and the 2020 Lannan Literary Award Fellowship for Fiction. She has published twelve books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction and has received some of the top literary prizes in Việt Nam. Her writing has been translated into twenty languages and has appeared in major publications, including the New York Times. She has a PhD in creative writing from Lancaster University. She is an advocate for the rights of disadvantaged groups in Việt Nam and has founded several scholarship programs, and she was named by Forbes Vietnam as one of twenty inspiring women of 2021. For more information, visit: http://www.nguyenphanquemai.com

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