Spring rolls are an amazing little appetizer. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who doesn’t like them, and unlike their heavier cousins the egg roll, these spring rolls are light and fresh, a pleasure to crunch into with or without a slightly spicy plum dipping sauce.
I first encountered spring rolls in, of all places, Disney at the Chinese pavilion in Epcot. I was immediately hooked and when it came time for dessert I ordered another round of spring rolls. Yeah, they were that delicious.
Since then I’ve had any number of spring rolls, both in the U.S. and in SE Asia. While these little treats are Chinese in origin, you can find them all over SE Asia and they are ubiquitous in Thailand, where you will find street vendors selling them all over Bangkok.
The following recipe for spring rolls was developed by my wife Golf when we lived in Pennsylvania. Needless to say it was difficult (impossible actually) to find anything similar, so she took the initiative to make up her own. They have evolved over time, and have become one of the favorites not just for our family, but for a myriad of strangers.
You see, each year we have a community yard sale, and being Thai Golf was all for making some extra money by selling stuff on the street as it were. So she decided to sell spring rolls, certainly a product that wouldn’t be in over supply. From the very first year they were a huge hit, competing very successfully with the traditional hamburgers and hot dogs to be found in profusion. Every year we’ve been there selling spring rolls we go through several hundred, and even have some folks buy them in bulk to freeze and enjoy later. They do freeze very well by the way. We even have repeat customers who come looking for our spring rolls each year. I say “our” because Golf rolls the spring rolls, but I am responsible for frying them up and ensuring a constant and fresh supply.
Now, you won’t have to travel to our little community yard sale, or Bangkok, to get authentic spring rolls. With this recipe you can make them at home and become the Asian cuisine hero for all your friends and family.
- Spring rolls wrappers - 1 pack
- ¼ pound ground pork (optional)
- ¼ pound bean sprouts (optional)
- 4 cups finely shredded cabbage
- ¾ cup finely shredded carrot
- ¼ pound vermicelli noodle (mung bean noodles), soaked in room temperature water for 15-20 minutes and cut to 3-4 inches in length
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- pinch of salt
- pinch of pepper
- 1 egg
- ½ cup Flour (any kind)
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Mix ground pork, bean sprouts, shredded cabbage, shredded carrot, garlic, and vermicelli noodle into the mixing bowl. I usually mix them by hand because the ingredients will be combined better that way.
- Add egg into the bowl and mix it through roughly.
- Add oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, salt, pepper.
- Heat the flour with a little bit of water over medium heat. Stir until the flour gets thick. You will use it as a glue to close the wrappers.
- Prepare to wrap. Use the flat space or cutting board as the surface.
- Prepare to roll. Lay the spring roll wrapper onto flat surface in diamond shape sized way. Add the finished stuffing onto the wrap (usually about 1-2 tablespoons – and you don’t want to put too much of the stuffing on because when you wrap you need to wrap it tight so the stuffing is not falling apart or breaking while you fry them). Push the stuffing toward near the end of the corner and start to roll. Then fold both; left and right sides, then roll, and lightly finish it by using a tip of your finger to smear the thickened flour mixture at the corner and tighten it up.
- Once wrapping is done heat oil in the pain on medium-high heat. Fry them to crisp and golden brown.
- Serve with spring rolls dipping sauce.
- Tip: my secret spring roll recipe is I usually don’t stir fry the stuffing like anyone else and just let everything cook in the oil all at once – this will allow natural flavor to stand out and leave all the juice from cabbage and carrot in the roll.
That’s the spring rolls. Now you need a sweet and spicy dipping sauce and while you could buy a bottled sauce, you’ll find the sauce below to be vastly superior, plus you can adjust the heat of the sauce to your liking.
- ½ cup rice wine vinegar
- ⅝ cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 Salted plum squeezed, seedless and minced
- 1 tablespoon plum juice
- 3 tablespoons spicy chili sauce
- 1-2 small fresh Chili cut on the bias
- Mix vinegar, sugar, salt, salted plum, and plum juice in the pot.
- Preheat the ingredients over high heat until it boils then turn the heat down to low.
- Simmer until the sauce is thick then remove from heat.
- Add spicy chili sauce and fresh chili, mix well, and serve.