Spring rolls are one of our favorite Chinese dishes. They’re great as an appetizer or snack, for lunch, dinner, or pretty much any time you’re craving something crunchy and savory. Although it can be tedious, I actually enjoy the somewhat time-consuming and delicate task of rolling each one up individually. It allows me an outlet for my perfectionism as I try to roll each one identically and as beautifully as the previous. If you lack such patience, however, you can always recruit a helper! Spring rolls exist in various forms throughout Asia, and the possibilities for ingredients and flavours is endless. They are a great starting point to begin experimenting with your own flavour combinations. Then there’s the sauce, once again endless variations, but we usually go for a sweet chili sauce and the savory soy-rice vinegar sauce I’ve included in this recipe. The sauce is another great way to experiment with different types of flavours.
The first time I made spring rolls, the result was nearly disastrous. That is because the recipe I used didn’t include any useful hints or instructions for rolling. Either my wrappers tore while I was rolling them up or they exploded while frying. I’ve since done some research (which I should have done before my first attempt) and I think I’ve got it down pat now. Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. After you’ve made the filling, allow it to cool completely. This is to avoid soggy spring rolls. Secondly, prop one side of the pan up to allow the liquid to drain off and collect at the bottom. This is to prevent the liquid from turning to steam when frying and causing your roll to explode.
2. Wrappers come in different sizes and quantities. I use ones that are 21.5 cm square and come in a package of 20. I usually don’t have time to roll any more than 20 in one sitting. Once you open the package and begin rolling, cover the stack of wrappers with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.
3. Use a small amount of filling and roll the wrapper gently but as tightly as possible. Loosely rolled spring rolls will allow oil to seep in and make them soggy. Be gentle so as not to tear the wrapper, that will also make them soggy.
4. It’s best to serve your spring rolls as soon as they’ve been fried. If you want to freeze them to fry later, lay them out with wax paper or tin foil between each layer to prevent them from sticking together. Freeze them like this, then you can gather them together and put them in a freezer bag to store.
For the spring rolls
- Spring roll wrappers
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 4 fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
- 1 green onion, chopped
- 1/4 of a cabbage, shredded
- 1 carrot, julienned
- A handful of bean sprouts
- 100 grams (3.5 oz) tofu
- 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- Small handful of cilantro
- 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
For the dipping sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
- Pinch of sugar
- If using dried shiitake mushrooms, soak them in hot water for 30 minutes to re-hydrate. Wrap tofu in paper towels and place between absorbent bathroom towels. Place something heavy on top to 30 minutes to press out all the water. Cut into short strips.
- Heat a wok or large pan over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil, then the garlic, ginger, and green onion and fry, stirring constantly, for 5 seconds. Add the mushrooms, cabbage, and carrot and stir-fry until soft, about 2 minutes. Add in the bean sprouts, tofu, soy sauce, and sesame oil and stir-fry for another minute.
- Place the filling on a baking sheet and prop one corner up to allow the liquid to drain. Allow the filling to cool completely.
- In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water. Take one spring roll wrapper and lay it out in a diamond on your work surface. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the bottom corner of the diamond and sprinkle a few cilantro leaves on top. Roll the corner of the wrapper up over the filling tightly. Continue rolling until reaching the middle, then fold in the two sides to make an envelope shape. Dab a little of the cornstarch slurry on the upper edges of the wrapper and continue rolling up. Press the edges down tightly to seal (I recommend watching a video if it’s your first time rolling a spring roll).
- Heat about 5 cm of oil in a frying pan over high heat. To test the temperature of the oil, dip a wooden chop stick in it, if the oil bubbles around the chop stick it’s hot enough. Gently slide the spring rolls into the oil. Allow to fry for about 2 minutes, turning occasionally until they are golden brown on all sides. Remove to drain on a paper towel.
- Combine all the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small bowl. Serve.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 15 Serving Size: 1 roll
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 68Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 235mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 1g