Spring Roll

Spring Rolls with Sweet and Sour Sauce

Like their thicker skinned cousin the egg roll, spring rolls are a popular staple at Chinese-American restaurants. As a kid, I never much cared for either variety because there was often more wrapper than filling and what meager filling they held tasted more like tired fryer oil than anything else.

All that changed while I was living in San Jose, when one of my roommates brought home a bag of King egg rolls. Their crisp oversized rolls are literally bursting with meaty filling and they border on addictive as it’s next to impossible to stop at one (or even two or three).

Egg Rolls with Sweet and Sour Sauce

Like many dishes of Chinese origin, spring rolls tell an interesting story of migration and adaptation because they can be found on just about every continent with variations in filling, wrapper and sauce. In the US, spring rolls are usually filled with cabbage, carrots, glass noodles, and pork, and wrapped in either a thin crisp wrapper (spring roll) or a thicker crunchy wrapper (egg roll). While they’re adequately seasoned and can be eaten as-is, spring rolls are commonly dipped in a bright red sweet and sour sauce in the US.

For me, the perfect spring roll has a thin, crispy shell holding a trove of textures and flavors, which is why I tend to use the thinner wrappers and stuff them until they’re nearly bursting at the seams. Today I filled my rolls with pork, onions, carrot, celery, shiitake mushrooms, napa cabbage, and glass noodes, but I also like adding water chestnuts, bamboo and wood ear for texture. For those of you that don’t eat pork, ground chicken or crumbled firm tofu make fine substitutes.

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    Spring Roll
  • These spring rolls have savory pork, cabbage, glass noodles, carrots and mushrooms wrapped in a thin crackly crisp crust.
ServingsPrep TimeCook Time
15 spring rolls 30 minutes 30 minutes

Ingredients

Servings: spring rolls
Units:

Instructions

  1. Combine the oyster sauce, Shaoxing, potato starch, soy sauce, white pepper and salt in a small bowl and whisk together.
  2. Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the sesame oil and ginger and fry until fragrant. Add the ground pork and stir-fry, using the edge of a spatula to break up the meat into little crumbs.
  3. When the meat is cooked, add the onion, carrot, celery, and shiitake mushrooms and continue stir-frying until the carrots are mostly cooked. Add the napa cabbage and glass noodles and continue stir-frying until the cabbage is mostly cooked. Add the sauce and stir-fry until there is no liquid left. Let this mixture cool.
  4. Make some glue by combing 3 tablespoons flour with 3 tablespoons water.
  5. Peel the wrappers and spread them out as pictured with about 1/2" of the wrapper below showing. This makes it easy to paint glue on several wrappers at once. Spread the glue with a pastry bush along the top edges of the wrapper.
  6. Place about 1/3 cup of the room temperature filling about 2 inches above the bottom corner of the wrapper.
  7. Tightly roll the wrapper and filling half-way.
  8. Fold the left edge over right up against the edge of the filling, then fold the right edge over. The trick here is to taper your fold slightly so that the open flap is a little narrower than the bottom of the roll as this will create a good seal and prevent flaps of dough that will invite oil into your roll. It should look a bit like an open envelope at this point.
  9. Finish by continuing to roll until the flap seals itself against the roll.
  10. To make the sweet and sour sauce, whisk together the water, vinegar, sugar, ketchup, potato starch and salt in a small saucepan until there are no lumps. Bring the mixture to a boil stirring constantly until your sauce has thickened.
  11. Prepare a paper towel lined rack. Pour about 2" of vegetable oil into a heavy bottomed pot and heat to 320 degrees F.
  12. Fry the springrolls a few at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Turn them over frequently so that they brown evenly. When they reach an even tan color, transfer the spring rolls to your rack and allow them to drain. Repeat with the rest of the spring rolls.
  • http://www.blognewblack.com/ Blog is the New Black

    Pure deliciousness! :)

  • http://www.orgasmicchef.com/ Maureen

    I love making spring rolls and always make enough to freeze for later.  These look fantastic.

  • DentalDiva

    Shoot. Now I want some. I wonder if I could adapt them for breakfast time?

  • http://claimid.com/dcookie Dale

    “…tasted more like tired fryer oil than anything else.” How true! These look so good!

  • http://www.italianinthemidwest.com/ PolaM

    this spring roll looks fantastic! Delicious and not at all greasy!

  • chicagosdomesticdiva

    Yummers, I looove a good spring roll!

  • http://www.fastrecipes.com/ easy recipes

    I wonder if making spring roll wrappers at home is a great deal of work.  They are not sold around here.  The closest thing to them I have found are tortillas!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      I’ve never done it before but I imagine it would be pretty tough as the wrappers are very thin. You could try and use Phyllo dough, however it’s thinner than spring roll wrappers so you’ll probably have to double it up. 

  • http://twitter.com/cookincanuck Dara Michalski

    These spring rolls look fantastic!  The thin crispy outer layer, holding in tons of ingredients, is making my mouth water.

  • Lauraclp

    i am a huge spring roll fan too, i do not like egg rolls, especially the Chinatown ones with peanut butter and cabbage in the filling. have you tried shredded jicama in spring rolls? they go really well with the carrots.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      I haven’t tried adding jicama, but since I love adding water chestnuts, I bet it adds a similar crispy texture:-)

  • Mahoneyhaus

    Marc, I like your blog and many, many, many posts and recipes on it.  But this spring roll — you need to go to China to try the real one there!  Wrap should be thiner and the filling should be juicer yet not so stuffed.  After frying the wrap should be almost translucent…..  

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Thanks for the tip. I’ve been to China, and have had spring rolls there, but this particular recipe isn’t meant to be authentic. Like California Rolls or Texnex chili, in the US ethnic minorities have brought over cuisines from around the world and they have evolved. They’re not neccisarily better or worse, but i don’t think it’s fair to dismiss them on the basis that they are unauthentic. If people only stuck to recipes for the absolute most authentic version of the dish, food would never change, and that would be boring. There are many blogs that serve up authentic fill-in-the-blank cuisine, but part of the “no recipes” ethos is that food should not be constrained by traditional ways of making things. You are obviously entitled to your opinions but, the point of this post wasn’t to make authentic Chinese spring rolls better, but to make a better version of Chinese-American spring rolls.

      • Mahoneyhaus

         totally agree with you on the concept of world cuisine changes and development.  But changes don’t definitely mean better. In my opinion, glass noodles in the filling of fried food will make filling dry and too many ingredients may conflict each other in flavor.  I had tried your other Am-Asian recipes. They are interesting and better.  

  • Lara H Alexander

    I am on the hunt for new recipes to use with my weekly assortment that shows up in my food box. This will do the trick!

  • Inhae Koo

    Love spring rolls – both fried (the Chinese variety) and fresh (the Vietnamese Goi Cuon – sp?)! My mouth is watering looking at these… I MUST make these for my brown bag lunch at work!

  • Leah

    I just made these and they were fantastic! The only problem was that I used rice paper roll wrappers (because my husband is gluten-free) and they stuck to the bottom of the frying pan when I was frying them and most of them broke apart!  Do you have any tips on frying rice paper rolls? 

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Leah, I’m glad you liked them. Do you mean the kind of wrappers usually used in Vietnamese summer rolls? The thin round disks that you soak in water to rehydrate? If so, I don’t think those would fry very well. To be honest I’m not really sure what would make a good substitute for spring roll wrappers because any dough made with a gluten free flour will probably lack the elasticity and rigidity needed to hold together while deep frying.

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  • http://www.redrocknoodlebar.com.au/our-menu/ brisbane takeaway

    It seems little complicated to me because i’m still a beginner. But, it looks nice and tasty and that is for sure. I have to be more sure in myself, and i will try it this weekend.

  • Hollierose

    shit

  • Loan Nguyen

    I like it, it is a unique dish

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  • Mar

    Would u fry them and then freeze them or the other way around?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      I’d fry and freeze them immediately. Then you can reheat them on a wire rack (over a baking sheet) in the oven and the wrappers should crisp up.

  • http://twitter.com/_AyyoItsSephora ♔❤November 25th❤♔

    what is a caterpillar roll does it actually taste like a caterpillar

  • kellyanne

    srap neto promise

  • KD

    I absolutely appreciate the way you “teach” a recipe. Your explanation & photos on rolling spring rolls is a prime example: the tip on the folding angle to create a good seal is an “aha!” moment for me. What do you do w/the left over oil? Reuse it or toss it?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Thanks for your nice note! Regarding used oil, I’m not a big fan of filtering and reusing, so I usually try to minimize the amount I use by frying in a pot with a narrow diameter. The only drawback is that a narrower pot not only holds less oil, it also holds less food, so you’ll have to do the frying in several batches.

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  • Gill

    Thanks for sharing all these awesome recipes.
    Tried cooking this recipe, you mentioned to stir fry till there is no liquid left. Mine mixture has no liquid at all and after adding the sauce , the mixture became very lumpy. Can you please tell me what I did wrong?
    Thank you

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Gill, there are a couple of possibilities. The first, did you use potato starch or another starch like cornstarch? Other starches have different thickening properties and so amounts would need to be adjusted. The other possibility is that the starch in the sauce settled and the resulting clumps made the lumps. If this was the case, you need to give the sauce a stir so the starch is evenly distributed before you add it to the pan. I hope this helps.

Welcome!

I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!