Vietnamese fresh spring rolls with jicama and egg make fun and refreshing appetizers with plenty of crunchiness and flavors.
Overview of Vietnamese fresh spring rolls with jicama and egg (Bo bia)
There are two types of spring rolls in Vietnam. The first type is fried spring rolls (cha nem, cha gio) and the second one is fresh spring rolls (nem, goi cuon) which don’t require frying. You may come across the second type with other names such as summer rolls or rice paper rolls. Vietnamese fresh spring rolls with jicama and egg (Bo bia) belong to the second group.
In Vietnam, bo bia spring rolls are often eaten as a snack. They are especially popular with young students because street food vendors love selling these right outside the school gate. Or is it the other way around :)? They contain crunchy vegetables, soft egg strips, flavorful sausage and shrimp, and aromatic herbs.
Bo bia spring rolls are the Vietnamese variant of Chinese popiah, introduced by Teochew people who migrated to Vietnam and adapted using what was available in Vietnam. There are several significant differences that set bo bia apart from popiah. The biggest difference is bo bia is wrapped with rice paper while popiah is wrapped with wheat skin. Though both contain some similar ingredients such as jicama, egg and shrimp, other ingredients are not the same.
Making Vietnamese fresh spring rolls with jicama and egg (Bo bia)
The main ingredients are rice paper wrappers, jicama, carrot, egg, shrimp, Chinese sausage and Thai basil. I use the small 6-inch rice paper wrappers, but feel free to choose the size you like.
Jicama is a chubby root vegetable that can be eaten raw if you want. It has a brown-yellow and papery skin and the inside is white and crunchy. I can buy jicama at both my local American grocery stores and Asian grocery stores.
Dried shrimps are the traditional choice for bo bia spring rolls, but I prefer using fresh shrimps and toasting them to intensify the flavor. If you like using dried shrimps, soak them in hot water to soften them and then saute them. You can usually find dried shrimps at Asian grocery stores.
Buying Chinese sausage probably requires a trip to your Asian grocery stores. I like using pork sausage for this dish.
All ingredients need cooking before wrapping. Detailed instructions with photos are on the recipe card below, so I will just discuss things that can be done differently here.
There are two ways you can cook the julienned jicama and carrot: boiling or sauteing. I prefer the latter to preserve their natural flavors as much as possible. For the Chinese sausage, you can pan fry them first and then slice, or slice thinly and then fry.
Additionally, I want to point out some things to pay attention to when wrapping the fresh spring rolls. You just need to dip the rice paper wrappers into room-temperature water for 2-3 seconds. They will continue to soften when you remove them from water. And no, you don’t need to use warm water. The next point is you shouldn’t overstuff the spring rolls, or they can be hard to roll or burst. Finally, as with all other fresh spring rolls, these are best when freshly prepared. If you prepare them in advance, cover them with damp paper to prevent them from drying out.
I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here. New recipes are added every week so let’s connect on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates.