Veggie Mama Blog

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  • Veggie Mama Lindsey

Fresh n' Saucy Spring Rolls

When I was a kid, we always ordered moo-shu somethin' when we went to Chinese restaurants in suburban Colorado. I remember loving to use moo-shy wrappers and adding my favorite toppings, which always included *lots* of plum sauce.

When I moved to China, my food expectations vs. reality experience was pretty mind blowing. The food completely threw me, and after my first Chinese restaurant experience I had no idea what to eat. I was afraid of the grocery stores (our first trip included knee high boot clad women yelling at us through a microphone about yogurt and another woman thrusting a glass bowl taped to juice at us). I had no idea what a wet market was, and I sure as heck was not going to step foot in another restaurant without a local to help me in my pathetic state.

Although I have come a long way since those early days, and still laugh at how unprepared I was, to this day I have no idea where to find moo-shu wrappers in Shanghai. No doubt they are somewhere obvious, but luckily for me, tortillas have become readily available in recent years. They can be used just like a traditional wrapper, and although they aren’t as thin, they are still a perfect replacement.

In Shandong cuisine, these wrappers are called popiah and are often used to wrap various foods. In Shanghai a version of this wrapper is used to make a breakfast favorite called jianbing. I’m guessing in old Shanghai, when food carts ruled the streets, the wrappers themselves were more common. However, times are changing, and street food has unfortunately become a victim of this change.

At least I have tortillas.

This dish combines many fresh, delicious, and delicate flavors that are topped with a powerful sauce, and wrapped into perfection. If you don’t have time to bother with the sauce, you can use hoisin sauce instead, which you can find at all local supermarkets.


12 popiah wrappers, moo-shu pancakes or small flour tortillas

For the Filling:

1 package mock duck, thinly sliced (sub with super firm tofu)

1.5 C slivered bamboo shoots (can use fresh or packaged. If using fresh, boil in water for 30 minutes before hand)

1 cup puffed tofu cubes, cut into small cubes

1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks

2.5 C thinly sliced Napa cabbage

1 C fresh bean sprouts

4 cloves garlic, minced

1.5 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 tbs rice wine

For the Sweet Sauce:

2 tbs dark brown sugar (can sub with unrefined coconut sugar, maple syrup or brown rice syrup)

1/2 C water

3 tbs black soy sauce (it’s a bit thicker than light or dark soy sauce)

1 tbs corn starch or tapioca starch

3 cloves garlic, minced

Additional Toppings:

fresh lettuce leaves

cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

spring onions, sliced

chili sauce or sriracha


1. Heat a wok or large pan over medium high heat. Add a bit of cooking oil and add the slivered bamboo. Stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the mock duck and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add puffed tofu, carrot, cabbage, bean sprouts, and garlic. Continue to stir-fry for 3-5 minutes, until tender. Add salt, pepper, and rice vinegar. Mix well, cover and set aside.

2. To make the sauce, gently mix the brown sugar and 2 tbs of the water in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until sauce is golden brown and caramelized. In a small bowl, mix together remaining water, black soy sauce, and cornstarch. Add the mixture to the saucepan and simmer until sauce has thickened. If you are using a liquid sweetener, skip the first step and first mix all ingredients for the sweet sauce and mix together, and add to the pan and cook until sauce has thickened. Add garlic and let sauce cool.

3. To assemble, set down your wrapper, and one piece of lettuce. Spoon about 1/4 C mixture onto the wrapper and lettuce and drizzle with sweet sauce. Top with cilantro, sliced onions and chili garlic sauce or sriracha to your liking.


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