You’ve never really had a spring roll until you’ve tried homemade ones. Absolutely incomparable to the spring rolls served at typical suburban Chinese restaurants with unidentifiable fillings. And did you know you can BAKE spring rolls? Pick the baked one in the pile below! (PS Spring Rolls = Egg Rolls!!)
When was the last time you ordered spring rolls at a Chinese restaurant? Did you bite into it and wonder what was actually inside? And if it was a really bad one, you may have even been treated to oil squirting into your mouth when you bit into it.
That pretty much describes the run-of-the-mill spring roll experience at local Chinese restaurants and takeout places in food courts. I mean, you can get truly great spring rolls at “posh” Chinese restaurants, where you can pay $13 for 2 (yes – 2, two, TWO spring rolls).
Or – you can make a whole batch of spring rolls at home for less than $10!
Psst for Aussies reading this – did you know you can get spring roll wrappers at Woolworths and Coles? 🙂 In the freezer section. ↓↓↓
I know spring rolls is one of those things that may seem daunting to try your hand at. But it’s actually not that tricky at all. Wrapping spring rolls is more straight forward than Wontons or Gyoza (Japanese dumplings). Plus, the spring roll wrapper is easier to handle than most doughs – it has stretch, you can even scrunch it up, whirl it around and dance around the kitchen with it, then still be able to use it. True story. (I might have done it)
Plus there’s the recipe video too. 🙂 Very handy for demonstrating the spring roll wrapping process.
There’s a lot of literature “out there” about how to make the perfect spring rolls. But I really don’t think it’s necessary to write a long list of tips and tricks to make great spring rolls. Just follow the recipe, the steps are perfectly straight forward. 🙂
For a real-deal spring roll experience, there’s no denying that frying is the way to go. That’s how to make a beautifully golden spring roll that’s flaky and crispy, as it should be (wait until you see the end of the video!).
However, you can most certainly bake them. The best way to bake them is to spray with oil and bake on a rack – no turning required. They will come out golden all over and very crispy. The crispness is just not quite the same delicate flaky crispness that you get from deep frying, but it is undeniably crispy. The main difference is the flavour – when you bake, the flavour of the spring roll wrapping is more dominant than when fried i.e. with fried spring rolls, you can taste the filling more.
Here’s a comparison of baked vs fried: the top is the baked one, the bottom is the fried one. You can see how the fried one is a more even golden colour. But there’s not that much difference!
For a truly authentic experience, make your own Sweet and Sour Sauce – it is so worth it. Especially if you’re going to make the effort to make your own spring rolls.
One bite, and you will be amazed. Homemade spring rolls. That’s how spring rolls should taste. You can really taste the filling (PS I used pork and vegetables, pretty classic combo). The filling actually has real texture, rather than just being some sort of mystery mush. It isn’t greasy, you won’t get any squirts of oil when you bite into your homemade spring rolls.
And who cares if your spring rolls come out a bit wonky and lopsided? That isn’t going to affect the flavour AT ALL! – Nagi xx
PS I got all the way to the end before I remembered to translate Aussie into American: Spring Rolls = Egg Rolls. 🙂 See Note 6 in the recipe for more info. N x
Homemade spring rolls are nothing like the ones at suburban Chinese takeout joints with unidentifiable mushy fillings and overly greasy. These are delicately crispy and golden, just like they should be, and you will actually be able to taste the filling. 🙂 Watch the VIDEO below for the wrapping technique. Fry them for the best results, or bake them (Note 5). Also see Note 7 for explanation of terminology differences re: Egg Rolls and Spring Rolls! Feel free to sub the Filling ingredients with similar vegetables.
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 garlic cloves , finely chopped or minced
- 400 g / 13 oz pork mince (ground pork), or chicken or turkey
- 6 dried shiitake mushrooms soaked in boiling water OR 8 fresh (Note 1)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded carrot (1 large or 2 small)
- 1 1/2 cups (heaped) bean sprouts
- 1 1/2 cups (packed) shredded green cabbage (any type is fine)
- 1 tsp cornflour / cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tbsp Oyster Sauce
- 2 tsp soy sauce (light or all purpose is best, dark is also ok)
- 15 – 20 spring roll wrappers, defrosted (21.5 cm / 8” squares) OR 35 - 40 small spring roll wrappers (Note 2), or Egg Roll wrappers to make Egg Rolls (Note 6)
- 2 tsp cornflour (for sealing rolls)
- 1 tbsp water (for sealing rolls)
- Oil for frying (I use vegetable) OR oil spray for baking (I use canola)
- 2 tsp cornflour/ cornstarch
- 2 tbsp water
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar (adjust to taste)
- 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 2 tsp soy sauce
Heat oil in a skillet or wok over high heat. Add garlic, stir quickly, then add pork. Cook, breaking it up as you go, until it turns white.
Add carrot, bean sprouts, cabbage and mushrooms. Cook for 3 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Add cornflour, soy sauce and Oyster sauce, cook for 1 minute until the liquid is gone. The Filling should not be watery, it should be kind of sticky (watery filling = soggy spring rolls = 😤 ).
Cool Filling (super speedy: spread on tray, refrigerate 5 minutes). (Hot filling = spring rolls burst open = 😤 )
Mix cornflour and water in a small bowl (for sealing the rolls).
Carefully peel off one spring roll wrapper, keep the others covered under a damp tea towel.
Place the wrapper with the SMOOTH SIDE DOWN (Note 3) in a diamond position. Place a very heaped dessert spoon of filling on the bottom. Roll up halfway, fold sides in, then finish rolling. Use cornflour sludge to seal. (Watch VIDEO below). They should be about 12 cm / 5" long, 2.5cm / 1" wide once wrapped.
Pour enough oil in a wok or large saucepan (Note 4) so it is double the height of the spring rolls. Heat on medium high until hot - stick a bamboo chopstick or wooden spoon handle in, if rapid bubbles appear, then it's hot enough.
Carefully place spring rolls in the oil (about 4 - 5 at a time) and cook, turning occasionally, until deep golden - around 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Repeat with remaining spring rolls. Serve while hot with Sweet and Sour Sauce!
Place spring rolls on a rack and place the rack on a tray. Spray very generously with oil all over (use canola or other natural oil). Bake at 200C/400F (standard) or 180C/350F (fan / convection) for 20 to 25 minutes until golden and crispy - no need to turn.
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to simmer, stirring regularly, then simmer until it thickens to taste (about 3 - 5 minutes).
1. Shitaake Mushrooms: Soak dried mushrooms in plenty of boiled water for 20 minutes or until rehydrated (don’t do this step if using fresh mushrooms). Drain, squeeze excess water out of the mushrooms (like they are a sponge), then finely chop.
Dried Shitaake mushrooms are available at Asian grocery stores and in the Asian section of some supermarkets here in Australia. They are whole dried mushrooms and, like porcini mushrooms, the mushroom flavour is more intense so it brings a great savouriness (“umami”) to anything it is added to.
If you make this with fresh mushrooms instead, finely chop them and add them before the carrot to give them a head start on the cooking, to ensure all the moisture inside cooks out (because wet filling = spring rolls burst open).
2. You can get spring roll wrappers at the supermarkets here in Australia! Frozen section, Woolies, Coles, Harris Farms. Spring roll wrappers are made of wheat. You ca also make this with rice paper spring roll wrappers (that are used to make things like Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls) but will need to be soaked first before wrapping, and the spring roll will come out crispy with a bubbly surface and kind of see through, like these Crispy Rice Paper Fish Parcels.
3. Look closely at the wrapper and you’ll notice one side is slightly rough, one side is smoother. You want the smooth side on the outside of the spring roll – looks prettier. Not a deal killer. 🙂
4. Because of the shape of woks, the oil usage is more efficient than using a saucepan or skillet. i.e. With a wok, there is more surface area with less oil usage.
5. FRYING vs BAKING: See photos in post for comparison of baking vs fried - they look very similar! Frying makes spring rolls that are more delicate, crispy and flaky as they should be. With baking, the wrapper is still very crispy, but it is not quite the same delicate flaky texture. Also with baking, the wrapper flavour is slightly more dominant. Tip for baking is to SPRAY VERY WELL with oil!! If you don't use a rack, then turn the spring rolls at about 15 minutes.
6. MAKE AHEAD / FREEZING: Freeze before cooking them cook from frozen. Best to serve freshly cooked so don't try to store cooked ones. 🙂
7. EGG ROLLS vs SPRING ROLLS: Egg Rolls are an American-Chinese dish, they are not found in Asia. Fundamentally, they are the same - flaky, crispy pastry enclosed around a filling. Use Spring Roll Wrappers to make spring rolls, and Egg Roll Wrappers to make egg rolls (and make them larger, if you want).
Egg Rolls are typically larger than spring rolls found in Asia and the rest of the world (no surprises there! 😂) The pastry for spring rolls tends to be thinner and a bit more see through, so it's got a more delicate flaky wrapper. The wrappers for egg rolls are typically thicker and therefore oiler. BUT having said that, I have ordered Egg Rolls numerous times in the US and they were spring rolls.
I prefer Spring Rolls. The wrapper is more delicate, flakier and doesn't absorb as much oil - an all round better eating experience! Plus they are a good size - I find that most Egg Rolls are too large i.e. too much filling, falls out too easily.
7. Nutrition per spring roll, excluding sauce. This is what I think is a conservative estimate as it is impossible for me to determine how much oil is absorbed by the spring rolls. I have assumed 1 tsp per spring roll which is conservative, it is difficult to imagine because the wrapper doesn't absorb oil and the filling does not get oily from frying. I've researched and other sources suggest it is about 150 calories per spring roll.
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Homemade spring rolls recipe video!
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