Crispy Veggie Spring Rolls
Crispy. Golden Brown. Chewy. Nomnomnom in my mouth forever.
My first experience with China was the local Chinese food restaurant near my childhood home. With every order, which came in the quintessential red and white take away box and a side of fortune cookie, were egg rolls. No American Chinese meal was complete without an order of them, and of course, hot and sour soup.
Imagine my surprise (and disappointment, let’s be honest) when I visited my first Chinese restaurant in Shanghai and was presented with a whole fish (eyeballs intact), freshly plucked chicken skin, and luckily, lots of veggies. I frantically searched the menu for something familiar, hoping for spring rolls, but it was not gonna happen. I know, so sad.
It’s not that egg rolls and spring rolls don’t exist here. There are places you can find variations of them, especially the ever disappearing street food stalls. You just likely won’t find them at your neighborhood Chinese joint. Interestingly, you *can* find them all over Southeast Asia, so when I’m traveling in the area I eat a lot of them. Like probably everyday. It’s kind of embarrassing.
So, what’s the deal with these addictive lil’ rolls? Well, it is said spring rolls originated in China during the Eastern Jin Dynasty, and was eaten as a special treat during the first day of spring to welcome the new season.
So, now that the Spring Festival is well underway, I think it’s time we get rollin’!
15-18 frozen rice paper wrappers (the kind used for fried spring rolls)
1 dry bunch of Mung bean noodles
2 tbs grated ginger
1/4-1/2 C white part of scallions, sliced (reserve green parts for garnish if desired)
8 crimini mushroom caps, chopped small
2 large carrots, shredded
2 baby Napa cabbage, shredded
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbs low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbs Zhenjiang vinegar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon Chinese five spice
1/4 tsp sugar
oil for frying
1. Submerge mung bean noodles in very hot water, set aside.
2. Remove spring roll wrappers from freezer.
3. Heat 1 tbs cooking oil in wok, over medium-high heat add ginger, white parts of scallions, and garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, making sure not to burn the mixture.
4. Add mushrooms, cook for 2-3 minutes until a bit soft. Add carrots and cabbage, sprinkle with a bit of salt to help the vegetables sweat and soften. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
5. When mixture is nice and tender, add remaining ingredients and taste. Adjust seasonings to your liking.
6. Take spring roll wrappers out of packaging and place on a plate, cover with a moist tea towel to keep them from getting to dry.
7. With a corner of the wrapper facing towards you, spoon about 2 tbs of the mixture onto the wrapper. Add a bit of prepared mung bean noodles on top, spreading them evenly.
8. Wet each corner of the spring roll wrapper with some water and starting on the side closest to you, take the corner up and over the mixture, then tighten it a little like you would a burrito. Don’t make it too tight though or it might rip the rice paper. Fold each outer corner on top to the center and then roll it up completely. Seal with a dab of water. Continue with remaining wrappers and filling.
9. Heat about 2 C oil for frying in your frying pan or pot. Once oil is ready, fry in batches of 3-4 rolls. Turn rolls halfway through, after about 1.5-2 minutes, for an even golden brown. Once done frying, place on cooking paper to soak up extra oil.
Serve with your fave dipping sauce. We love Thai chili sauce! It’s just like the sweet and sour sauce I grew up with. Enjoy!