The spring roll is probably one of the most iconic foods in Chinese cuisine, but also one that’s extensively—and sometimes, crudely—adapted. Almost every country in Asia has its own interpretation of spring rolls: lumpia in Indonesia and the Philippines, cha gio in Vietnam, and popiah in Malaysia and Singapore. In the United States, they are known as egg rolls—which is a chunky version of this recipe that’s stuffed primarily with antibiotic-tasting shredded cabbage, and wrapped with thick wonton skins! Even in China, spring rolls come in a variety of fillings and each region has its own version, so much so that it’s almost difficult to define the best spring roll recipe! Despite infinite varieties, good spring rolls never fail to tantalize the taste buds. This is my take on the Chinese spring rolls, inspired by my favorite Chinese restaurant. They are moist, juicy, and packed with an assortment of ingredients that make a perfect filling.
Makes 24 or serves 6 as an appetizer, snack, or dim sum
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten for egg wash
- 24 store-bought spring roll wrappers, 8 in (20 cm) square in size
- Oil, for deep-frying
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine or sherry
- 4 oz (100 g) pork butt/leg, cut into thin matchstick strips
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 oz (50 g) raw shrimp, coarsely chopped
- 3 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked until soft, stems discarded, caps diced
- 4 oz (100 g) cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1/2 small carrot, cut into thin matchstick strips
- 1 green onion (scallion), trimmed and cut into small rounds
- 1/2 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 dashes white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
- 1/4 cup (65 ml) water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Mix all the ingredients for the Seasonings in a bowl and set aside.
- To make the Filling, combine the cornstarch and rice wine in a bowl large enough to hold the pork. Marinate the pork for about 15 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over high heat. Add the shrimp, pork, and stir-fry until they are half cooked. Add the remaining ingredients and the Seasonings. Stir-fry until the Filling is cooked and becomes somewhat dry. (Wet filling will make the spring rolls too soft.) Dish out and let cool.
- Assemble the spring rolls by following the instructional picture guide on page 65.
- Heat 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) of the oil in a wok or stockpot to 350°F (175°C) for deep-frying. Gently drop the spring rolls into the oil and deep fry in batches. Deep-fry until they turn light golden brown. Dish out with a strainer or slotted spoon, draining the excess oil by laying the spring rolls on a wire rack or a dish lined with paper towels. Serve immediately as is or with chili dipping sauce.
How to Wrap the Spring Rolls
- Place a piece of spring roll wrapper on a flat surface, spread about 2 tablespoons of the Filling lengthwise onto the center of the wrapper. Do not overfill. Using a small brush or your index finger, dab the egg wash around the outer edges of the wrapper.
- Fold the bottom side of the wrapper over the Filling.
- Then fold the left and right sides of the wrapper over the Filling. Make sure the Filling is packed tightly.
- Roll the spring roll over until it reaches the other end of the wrapper.
- Make sure the spring roll is sealed tightly and there is no leakage. Repeat until all the wrappers and Filling are used up.
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