Freshly deep-fried spring rolls are light, crispy and airy.
The crackling sound of the first bite brings back the memory of the bustling old-school Dim Sum shop once I had as a kid. The middle age women pushing the dim sum cart trundled through the narrow gap between rickety tables. Watching the high tower of bamboo steamers with spring rolls, Char Siu Bao, Shumai and shrimp dumplings is enough to make my belly rumbled.
I will show you how to make spring rolls with shatteringly crispy skin, which is stuffed with tender-crisp vegetables, chicken, and shrimps.
But why spring roll is so popular?
Spring roll is made with ingredients of universal appeal, which is perfect as the starter or as dessert for any Asian-inspired meal.
This is the Cantonese spring rolls with a twist of Vietnamese spring rolls. You can make it in advance, and deep-fried directly from the freezer. Spring rolls are suitable for almost every palate, which will be a total crowd pleaser among your friend and family.
Let’s get started.
Watch the videoRead on: Watch the video recipe at the end of this post
Eight tips you need to know to make the perfect spring rolls
Making spring rolls isn’t difficult, but before you jump to the recipe section below, take a few minutes to read through the following tips. You will be able to make top quality spring by understanding the details and tips which I experienced after years of making spring rolls in my restaurant.
You will benefit from the details and tips which I experienced after years of making spring rolls in my restaurant.
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1. Use thin spring roll wrappers
You need to buy the spring roll wrappers. Don’t try to make it. Even restaurants who make spring rolls do not make the wrapper themselves.
You can get spring roll wrappers at the market or the frozen section of any grocery store in Asia. If you are in America, US, Europe or Australia, you may need to head to the Asian grocery stores.
Choose the thin spring rolls wrapper. The thinner it is, the more crispy and crunchy the spring rolls will be. The thick wrapper will produce chewy texture, which is not what you want.
Note: Spring roll wrappers in different from the rice paper to make rice paper wraps. Ask the shopkeeper when you purchase if you are unsure.
2. Try a different combination of the spring roll filling
What is in a spring roll? The filing of this recipe consists of the ingredients I use in my restaurant, which is available and loved by the locals.
Yam bean is one item that might not be available in some countries. If you can’t find it, just ignore it. As for the mung bean vermicelli, it has a crunchy texture that is hard to find the substitution. It should be available in most of the Asian grocery shops.
Explore the different combination of filling according to your preference. Below are my suggestions;
– Use only chicken or shrimps instead of both, or substitute with pork.
– Omit both chicken and shrimps for the vegetable spring rolls
– Replace the fish sauce with light soy sauce for a more Chinese flavor. (This recipe is more of a Vietnamese version and fish sauce is widely used in Vietnamese cuisine.)
– Omit yam bean if it is difficult to get.
Create your own set of filling
There is no 'standard formula' for the fillings of spring rolls. Use any local ingredients as the substitute if you do not like any ingredients in the following recipe or have difficulty to get them. For example, yam bean may not be available in every part of the world. Use the following tips to build up your formula of the ingredients.
1. Include some crunchy elements. E.g., carrots or yam bean
2. Use some springy ingredients. E.g., mung bean vermicelli.
3. Add some aromatic vegetable: E.g., coriander leaves or scallions
4. Have some protein: E.g., chicken, shrimps, or tofu for vegetarian.
5. A mix of saltiness (fish sauce, soy sauce), sweetness (sugar) and sourness (lime or lemon juice)
3. Shred the vegetables by hand or with a mandoline
The reason not to use the box grater to shred the vegetables (yam bean, carrots) is to keep the filling dry. Grating will release more liquid from the vegetables. We want to maintain the filling dry. Dry filing means crispy spring rolls.
I suggest you cut the vegetables into fine julienne or with a good quality mandoline.
4. Keep the ingredients dry
We need to keep the filling dry as I mentioned in point 3. Here are more suggestions that you can achieve this:
– Cut the vermicelli into short strips of 5 cm length. Soak it in water until it is soft, which takes about 15-30 minutes. Place it in a colander or wire mesh strainer and let it drips dry.
– Let the cooked meat and shrimps become cold before mixing with other ingredients for the filling. The filling should be cold while wrapping as the steam from the hot filling will wet the wrappers. The spring rolls will be crispy if you use wet wrappers.
Keeping the filling dry is the most important step in making spring rolls, and often neglected.
5. Keep the spring roll wrappers moist
This point seems to contradict my earlier point to keep the filling dry. However, if you expose the spring roll wrappers, they will dry quickly and become brittle and hard. This happening is similar to the unattended tortilla wrap leaving on the table.
Here are the steps I used to keep the wrappers soft and moist:
– Remove a packet of spring roll wrappers from the freezer. (You need to keep the wrappers in the freezer after purchase.)
– Leave it at room temperature to defrost, until you can separate the wrappers from one with another without breaking them.
– Place one of the wrappers on the table and start wrapping the spring rolls.
– Cover the unused wrappers with a moist (but not wet) kitchen towel so that they will not turn dry and brittle.
6. Do not overstuff the spring rolls
How much filling should you put in one spring roll?
It depends on the size of the wrapper.s The spring rolls should not have too much filling since it can break while deep frying. On the other hand, it is not tasty if too little filling is used. (Think of making the delicious ravioli!).
The size of the wrapper I use is 20cm by 20cm. I find that the ideal amount is between 20g to 25g of filling for each spring roll.
It is good if you have a kitchen weighing scale. If you don’t, make the best judgment visually. Before I bought my weighing scale, I used to put one portion of the filling as the sample in front of me as the reference of how much filling I should use for the rest of the spring rolls.
7. Wrap tightly with no air pockets
It is not hard to wrap the spring roll. Wrap the filling tightly so that there is no space inside. The spring roll does not look good aesthetically if it is partially empty. In addition, oil will seep in to fill this space during deep frying, which will make the spring roll taste oily.
8. Deep freeze by arranging the spring rolls with a single layer
After you wrap the spring rolls, you can keep store them in the freezer for future use. However, they tend to stick together easily.
You can follow the following method to avoid this:
– Place a sheet of plastic on a large tray.
– Arrange the spring rolls neatly on the plastic sheet, with the seam side down. (It helps secure the corner so that it doesn’t pop out)
– Freeze the spring rolls until hard enough. Once they are frozen, they will not stick to each other anymore.
– Keep the spring rolls in a container and freeze.
– You can deep fry the frozen spring rolls directly.
You may also need the following items for this recipe:
Do you need a dipping sauce for the spring rolls?
These crackling spring rolls are so good that you don’t even need a dipping sauce. Chinese spring rolls are served without a dipping sauce. However, I understand there are different palates and some of you may want to take a dip to see how different it will be.
You can opt for a simple ketchup or mayonnaise, but it might not do justice to the fabulous desserts that you have made,
Therefore, I have included the recipe for the Vietnamese spring roll dipping sauce. Since what I served is more Vietnamese inclined, the sauce is constituted with the classical Vietnamese ingredients. It is the amalgamation of sweet, sour and salty, plus a hint of spiciness.
The Spring Roll Recipe
- 75 g mung bean vermicelli Tang Hoon/ 冬粉
- 100 g of chicken breast meat
- 50 g of shrimps
- 35 g of shallot
- 100 g of yam bean (沙葛 / jicama）
- 25 g of carrot
- 10 g of scallion
- 10 g coriander leaves
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 30 ml fish sauce
- 3 g ground white pepper
- 1 eggs
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 20 pieces Spring roll wrappers
- Soak the mung bean vermicelli in water until soft. Drained.
- Cut the chicken breast meat, shrimps and onions into small cubes
- Cut the carrots and yam bean into fine julienne by hand or with a mandolin.
- Cut the scallion into small pieces
- Heat up the oil in a saucepan or wok, stir-fry the chicken meat until cooked.
- Add the shrimps, and continue to stir-fry until it is cooked. Remove from heat.
- Mixed the shrimp and chicken with all the remaining ingredients.
- Place the wrapper with one of the corners near you, like a diamond, on a clean and dry surface.
- Place about 20-25g of filling on the wrapper, slightly off center but near to you.
- Fold the corner nearest to you over the filling. Roll it tight.
- Fold the left and right corner to the center.
- Place a dollop of cornstarch slurry or egg liquid on the tip of the remaining corner.
- Roll the spring roll away from you like making a burrito. Let the cornstarch slurry or egg liquid to act as gum to secure the seal at the folding.
- Place a large piece of plastic sheet on a shallow pan.
- Place the spring roll seam side down on the plastic sheet.
- Cover it with another plastic sheet and keep it in the freezer until the spring rolls are frozen.
- Remove the frozen spring rolls and store it in a freezer safe container.
- Heat up the oil in the deep fryer or wok to 350°F/175°C.
- Deep fried the spring 5 minutes until they turn golden brown.
- Mix all the ingredients in a small pot.
- Heat it up until the sugar is dissolved.
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