Ah, yes. The spring roll. My family loves these delicious fried wonders. We don’t go out to eat much, so if we want them, we usually have to make them ourselves. I’m in no way a professional, but this is my favorite thing to make/eat, so I thought I’d share it! I’ve adapted this recipe from here.
4 ounces ground pork
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 medium carrot
4 water chestnuts, fresh or canned
1 green onion
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup shredded Napa cabbage
1 tablespoon ginger
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoons sherry
2 tablespoons chicken stock
a few drops sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Oil for deep-frying and stir-frying (have one 48 oz. bottle just to be safe)
9-12 egg roll wrappers (spring roll wrappers work too, but grocery stores in the area never seem to have them)
I did two batches of this recipe for my family, which yielded 19 spring rolls. (The five of us devoured all of them in one night.) All the ingredients were things we either had laying around the house, or got in local grocery store. If you can’t find the napa cabbage, or just want to speed up the process, you can replace the cabbage and carrot with coleslaw mix.
First, put together the marinade for the pork so we can get that soaking while we chop veggies. Put soy sauce and cornstarch in a plastic bag and mix. Then put the pork in. I squeeze it around a bit to get the marinade mixed in with the meat. Then stick it in the fridge. We’ll leave it there until we need it again.
So now we’ll take care of the vegetables. Peel and grate the carrot, and cut up your green onion. Finely chop up the cabbage and water chestnuts. Mince ginger. (Quick note on ginger: you only use a little for this recipe, but you can save the rest of the ginger by freezing it. It keeps for months!) You’ll also want to rinse out and drain your bean sprouts.
It’s okay if you don’t buy whole water chestnuts. I just stack slices up until it looks like it might be the size of one water chestnut and then chop them up. It’s usually somewhere between three to five slices that I’ll count as one water chestnut.
Now get out a small bowl and mix together the oyster sauce (the stuff smells nasty, but it adds good flavor, I promise!), sherry (the alcohol cooks out), and sesame oil. After that’s all mixed up, whisk the cornstarch in. Now set this aside. We’ll need it later.
Take out a large sauté pan (a wok works too) and put about two tablespoons of oil in it. Once the oil is hot, remove the pork from the marinade and place it in the pan. Sauté it until it’s cooked through and no longer pink. Take it out, set it aside, and wash out the pan.
Add about a couple tablespoons of oil. Now put the ginger in and sauté until it smells yummy. This goes pretty quick, so have the rest of your veggies on deck. Once it smells like yummy ginger, put the rest of the vegetables in the pan and sauté.
Sauté all the vegetables together and until they all smell good and have all wilted a little bit. Now push them to the sides of the pan.
Go get that small bowl of sauce and pour its contents into the center of your newly made ring of veggie-wonderfulness. Stir the sauce until it thickens, and then mix it in until it coats the veggies.
Now mix in the pork.
Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool a little before you get around to filling the wrappers.
In the meantime, get the stuff you need to fill the wrappers. A clean surface, the wrappers themselves, a tablespoon, and a small cup of water.
Once it’s cool enough to work with, position a wrapper in front of you so it looks like a diamond. Spoon about two tablespoons of filling straight the center of the diamond (don’t worry, the animation below will help clear this up a bit). Dip a finger in the water and get it a little wet. Run it along the top two edges of the diamond. Take the bottom and wrap it up over the filling. Fold in one side and then the other. Roll that sucker up, the water on the edge should seal it. Set it aside, and repeat this until you’ve used all the filling.
Don’t let the filled spring rolls touch each other, as they have the annoying habit of sticking to each other, and then rip open when you try to pick them up again.
Now for the fun part. Clean out your pan once more, and pour in oil until it’s about half an inch to three quarters deep. Keep in mind that oil gets super-hot and is also flammable, so keep an eye on it. I also keep a candy thermometer in so I can have an idea of when it might be a good idea to turn down the heat a bit (once it starts nearing 400 degrees I tend to try to get it to calm down). Once the oil’s hit 200 degrees, I start putting the spring rolls in. This is mostly because I get impatient. It should be hotter than this, but I start at 200 because at this point I am starved.
I also recommend using tongs to lower them in.
“I wonder why you don’t use tongs,” my dad muttered.
“Because I am really stupid, that’s why,” I declared as I continued to plop spring rolls into the crackling oil using only my fingers.
“Well, that makes sense,” he responded, resigned to whatever fate I might have brought upon myself. So basically, don’t be stupid like me.
Keep your spring rolls frying until they are a delectable golden-brown. They’re probably not completely submerged in oil, so be sure to turn them over so the other side can fry too. Pull them out with metal tongs when they’re done (believe me, I didn’t use my fingers for that, otherwise I wouldn’t be typing this now) and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until you’ve finished all the spring rolls, turn off the heat, and let the oil cool down.
Et voila! You have yourself some amazingly yummy spring rolls that are practically ambrosia. You may want to let them cool down a minute or two before eating them. It’s a good bit of work, but I think you’ll find it’s worth it.
Here is a sweet and sour sauce recipe that is extremely easy that you could throw together while frying up the rolls, if you’d like something to dip them in. (Just don’t lean over the pot when it’s super hot and get vinegar fumes in your eyes and jerk back, coughing. “Wow, that was entertaining,” my dad laughed as I blinked away the pain, “like slapstick.”)