Recipe courtesy of Charles Phan

Vegetarian Spring Rolls

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 45 min
  • Prep: 10 min
  • Inactive: 20 min
  • Cook: 15 min
  • Yield: makes 10 rolls; serves 10 to 12
Spring rolls, a popular street food in San Francisco chef Charles Phan's native Vietnam, are usually made with shrimp and pork. But in this vegetarian version, adapted from his book The Slanted Door: Modern Vietnamese Food, he uses shiitake mushrooms, tofu and cabbage "to mimic the flavor profile and texture of the shrimp and pork," he explains.



  1. Soak the cellophane noodles in warm water for 20 minutes. Drain the noodles and cut into pieces about 3 inches long. 
  2. To make the filling, in a large skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook until light brown. Add the carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 3 minutes. Add the shiitake and tree ear mushrooms and cabbage and cook, stirring, until the cabbage is wilted, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add the salt, pepper, and sugar, and stir until combined. Add the bean sprouts and stir for about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cellophane noodles and stir for another minute. Add the fried tofu, stirring gently to combine. Transfer the filling to a colander and set aside until the mixture is well drained. 
  4. Fill a large bowl with very warm water. Dip one sheet of rice paper halfway into the water and quickly rotate to moisten the entire sheet. Lay the wet rice paper on a flat work surface. Spread about 1/3 cup of the filling over the bottom third of the rice paper. Spread about 1/4 cup of the vermicelli over the filling, and top with a few mint leaves. Fold in the left and right sides of the rice paper, then fold the bottom edge up and over the filling tightly and roll toward the top end to form a tight cylinder. Repeat with the remaining rice paper and filling. 
  5. The rolls can be made up to 2 hours in advance. Cover the rolls with a damp towel until ready to serve. Just before serving, cut each roll crosswise into three or four pieces and serve with the peanut sauce.

Cook’s Note

Use a plastic cutting board when preparing the rolls. The rice paper noodles stick to wood but slide off plastic easily.