Gluten Free

Are Vietnamese Egg Rolls Gluten Free?

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Egg rolls are a delicious Asian-American crunchy appetizer that can grace any occasion. With my culinary expedition, I have seen over 20 types of egg rolls, including the literal egg rolls made in Nigeria, where full-cooked eggs are wrapped in dough and fried.

Vietnamese egg roll stands out with its distinct filling and can be enjoyed with lots of traditional sauces that excite all your taste receptors, but is it gluten-free? In this expedition, we will be unveiling all we know about Vietnamese egg rolls’ gluten status while also providing you with a delicious recipe.

What Are Vietnamese Egg Rolls?

Vietnamese egg rolls are also known as Cha Gio. They are made with noodles, mushrooms, ground pork meat, and diced vegetables (consisting of jicama or carrots most of the time), wrapped in rice paper.

Just like lumpia, there is no standard version of Vietnamese egg rolls. If you visit four families, you could find four different recipes. When I make this recipe with my children, I make use of gluten-free egg roll wrappers, ground chicken, minced shrimp, and carrots, along with bell peppers, for the filling.

The wheat-based wrappers guarantee a crispy exterior. Having gone gluten-free, we stick to rice noodles and rice wrappers. However, Vietnamese egg rolls made with wheat-based wrappers (as they don’t get soggy easily) tend to have a longer storage time when compared to ones made with rice paper (which gets soggy easily).

Ingredients Used In Vietnamese Egg Rolls

  • Ground pork: This is the most common protein filling you will find for Vietnamese egg rolls. This pork is usually seasoned with spices and herbs such as garlic, ginger, fish sauce, and soy sauce to produce that scintillating taste. Instead of pork, ground chicken is also used.
  • Asian Noodles: Numerous kinds of noodles are used for this recipe, depending on the maker and the taste they intend to achieve. Asian noodles such as vermicelli which I also use for Lebanese vermicelli rice are typically made from rice flour, have a mild taste, and absorb the flavor of the dish3. People also use cellophane noodles and wheat-based noodles.
  • Wrappers: Due to the crispy texture, most people prefer to use wheat-based egg roll wrappers, but the traditional wrapper used in this recipe is the rice wrapper.
  • Filling: The fillings usually consist of granulated sugar, salt, pepper, eggs to bind the fillings, carrots, jicama, and shrimp.

Are Vietnamese Egg Rolls Gluten-free?

Traditional Vietnamese egg rolls are naturally gluten-free as they are wrapped in rice paper, which is gluten-free. The fillings are usually made with ground meat, vegetables, and vermicelli noodles, which are all gluten-free as well.

However, as I stated earlier, different individuals and restaurants could make use of different recipes to achieve a signature taste; this may include substituting gluten-free ingredients with gluten-containing ingredients like wheat-based wrappers and noodles and possibly adding soy sauce to the filling.

If you have celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, it is best to ask the person who prepared the dish or the waiter at the restaurant to fill you in on the ingredients used. Also, there is a possibility of cross-contamination. It is always best to make your dietary needs known beforehand to be on the safe side.

Is Vietnamese egg roll healthy?

Vietnamese egg rolls are not healthier than our typical egg rolls. While the fillings could contain protein and vegetables, they could have lots of sodium, and when fried, the wrapper absorbs oil, and this oil impacts the calorie and fat content significantly, making it less healthy.

Without the sauce, 1 Vietnamese egg roll supplies 360 calories, 6 grams of fat, 550mg of sodium, and 110mg of cholesterol. If you eat beyond 1, you can do the math.

Most foods and snacks we eat nowadays are far from healthy anyway, supplying us with more sodium, carbs, fats, and cholesterol that easily fill up our daily value. However, for less nutrient-dense Vietnamese egg rolls, with a healthy lifestyle and portion control, you could still enjoy some while mitigating potential health risks in the long run.

Gluten-free Dipping Sauces That Go Well With Vietnamese Egg Rolls

Here are some of my favorite gluten-free sauces you could serve alongside Vietnamese egg rolls:

  1. Nuoc Cham sauce: This sauce is made with a combination of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, water, minced garlic, and minced chili. When combined, these ingredients form a sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavor that takes your egg roll to a different dimension.
  2. Peanut dipping sauce: For this sauce, I usually use Kirkland’s organic peanut butter in combination with rice vinegar, gluten-free soy sauce, honey or sugar, water, minced garlic, and chili to get that nutty, sweet, and slightly tangy flavor. Depending on how you prefer the consistency, more water could be added.
  3. Hoisin Peanut Dipping Sauce: This is one of my favorite dipping sauces for Vietnamese egg rolls. You need to mix hoisin, rice vinegar, peanut butter, gluten-free soy sauce, sugar, water, honey, and minced garlic to form this one. It is very delicious, adding a creamy, irresistible texture.

Can I Find Gluten-free Vietnamese Egg Rolls At Restaurants?

From personal experience, you’re more likely to get gluten-free Vietnamese egg rolls in Asian restaurants. Most other restaurants I have been to tend to use wheat-based wrappers and sometimes add soy sauce to the fillings, which could contaminate the food with gluten.

Since not all food service providers are aware of the growing number of gluten-intolerant individuals, it is essential to do research and call beforehand to ensure your meal is prepared with dedicated utensils and gluten-free ingredients.

Final Thoughts

Vietnamese egg rolls are traditionally gluten-free. However, when you dine out, a plethora of things could contaminate your food with gluten: shared utensils and countertops, the use of gluten-containing wrappers, and sauce. This is why you should always call the restaurant beforehand to make known your dietary needs, and if they can’t fulfill them, you can alternate or make them at home.

Cortiso Davids

My culinary adventure began at an early age when I would stand on a chair to help my mom stir pancake batter. Over the years, I've honed my skills and knowledge, drawing inspiration from family recipes, celebrated chefs, and the vibrant food cultures that make our world so diverse and fascinating.

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