Dishes to Impress Your Friends: Spring Rolls
For anyone familiar with East Asian cuisine, you’ve likely indulged in a spring roll before. These fried or steamed appetizers are the perfect intro to your dinner — delicious, but not too filling. What if you could make them at home to dine and delight your family and friends? The recipe is surprisingly simple and gloriously adaptable, meaning you have plenty of opportunities to experiment and really make these spring rolls your own!
What are Spring Rolls?
First, we should establish what spring rolls are exactly. If you haven’t had a spring roll before, you’re in luck, because you get to try something new today! And it’s going to be a real treat. Spring rolls are a type of rolled appetizer that originated in Chinese cuisine but have spread to many of China’s neighbors. One prominent adaptation of the spring roll is the Vietnamese summer roll. Spring rolls get their names by traditionally being served at Chinese Spring Festival banquets.
The only set ingredient for spring rolls is that they are contained in a thin wrapper made of water and flour, usually rice or wheat flour.
The ingredients of a spring roll would traditionally vary based on the economic standing of the family making them. For the less fortunate in society, a spring roll may only have included shredded carrots and celery, while those who were better off may have included more luxurious ingredients like meat, egg, bean sprouts, and spinach. Another way spring rolls can differ is by how they’re cooked. Spring rolls can be fried, baked, or steamed. The only set ingredient for spring rolls is that they are contained in a thin wrapper made of water and flour, usually rice or wheat flour.
The Difference Between Spring Rolls and Egg Rolls
It’s not uncommon for people to mix up spring rolls and egg rolls, and it makes a lot of sense if you’re unfamiliar with both. They are quite similar. Both rolls are folded inside of a wrap and can have an assortment of ingredients. Both can be fried for an unmistakable crunch. Both tend to be tube shaped. Both are common at Chinese-American restaurants.
First and foremost, spring rolls are a traditional Chinese dish, while egg rolls are a Chinese-American creation (though no less delicious).
Beyond that, however, there are noticeable differences that help you tell them apart immediately. First and foremost, spring rolls are a traditional Chinese dish, while egg rolls are a Chinese-American creation (though no less delicious). Another difference is in the egg roll wrapper itself, which may either include egg in the batter mixture or be dipped in egg. This gives an egg roll its crunchier, thicker texture. Egg rolls also tend to be larger than the standard spring roll, and are only fried, unlike spring rolls which can also be baked and steamed.
Making Spring Rolls at Home
Homemade Spring Rolls Recipe
- 15-20 spring roll wrappers
- 3 Portobella mushroom caps, chopped small
- 1 ½ cup of shredded carrots
- 1 ½ cup of cabbage, cut into strips
- ¼ lb of porkchops, julienned
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 scallions, sliced
- 1 tsp of soy sauce
- ½ tsp of fish sauce
- ½ tsp of sugar
- 4 tsp of cornstarch
- 1 tbsp of water
- 2 tbsp of vegetable oil
- Mix the julienned porkchops, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch in a bowl. Place the bowl in the fridge, and allow the pork to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Remove the pork from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and scallions and sauté until they’re fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Remove the pork from the marinade and cook in the skillet until browned.
- Add the chopped mushroom, carrots, and cabbage and sauté until the carrots have softened and the cabbage has softened.
- Stir in another teaspoon of cornstarch so that the filling ingredients are fully coated. Set aside to cool.
- Once the ingredients are cooled, mix the remaining 2 teaspoons of cornstarch with a tablespoon of water.
- Place a spring roll wrapper like a diamond, with a corner pointing toward you.
- Place about 2 tablespoons of filling 2 inches from the corner in a line about 3- to 4-inches long (leaving space on either side).
- Tightly roll the wrapper around the filling and continue to roll it up until you’ve reached just under halfway. There should be a lot of rolled wrapper that is unfilled space on either side of the filling.
- Brush some of the cornstarch water on the top corner of the wrapper and fold the left and right corners over so that the sides of the wrapper are now equal with the filling. The wrapper should now look something like an open envelope.
- Continue rolling the wrapper until you’ve reached the corner that you wet with the cornstarch water, pressing it gently against the spring roll to seal it shut.
- Continue to do this until you run out of filling or wrappers.
- Place a wire rack onto a baking sheet.
- Lightly brush a little neutral oil on the outside of the spring rolls and place them on the rack before putting the baking sheet in the oven.
- Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, turning them halfway through cooking.
- If you choose to steam or fry the spring rolls, don’t brush with oil. Just place the spring rolls in a steamer until the wrappers are translucent. For frying them, add them to a fryer or oil-filled pot at 325°F for about 3 to 5 minutes, or when the rolls brown.