Thank you to Made In Cookware for sponsoring this pork and cabbage spring roll recipe!
No one can resist the thin and crispy outer layer of a freshly cooked spring rolls. Whenever my husband orders Chinese takeout, his meal comes with a spring roll. I frown at that spring roll because I know the texture of it pales in comparison to fresh ones.
So, I asked Mama Lin to show me how to make homemade pork spring rolls. That way, I can make them more often at home!
Although there are quite a few steps, once you get the assembly line going, they are straightforward to make.
SPRING ROLL VS EGG ROLL
In America, I often see the phrases “egg roll” and “spring roll” referring to a food item that looks very similar: vegetables and meat rolled into a wrap and deep fried. Egg rolls just happen to be slightly bigger.
The Chinese phrase for this food item is chun juan (春卷), which literally translates into “spring roll” in English. In Chinese the phrase, “egg roll” (蛋卷) actually refers to something that looks very different to spring rolls. They’re thin cookies that are rolled into a cigar shape.
Some of the posts I read online suggest that egg rolls are more of an American Chinese creation. For the purpose of this post, I will call these “spring rolls,” because that’s what I would say in Chinese.
I should also note here that when I say “spring rolls,” I’m not referring to the Vietnamese-style fresh spring rolls that are wrapped in rice paper. I know, it is all quite confusing sometimes.
HOW TO MAKE CRISPY VEGETABLE & PORK SPRING ROLLS
Prep the Filling
You’ll need to par-cook the vegetables and meat to ensure that the filling is cooked through when you deep fry the spring rolls. The Made In Blue Carbon Steel Wok is great for stir frying the filling because the wok heats up quickly and it can hold a considerable amount of ingredients inside the wok.
Rolling the Spring Rolls
Take an 8-inch sheet of the spring roll wrapper and lay it down in a diamond shape. Place a few tablespoons of filling about 2 inches away from the bottom corner. Then, start rolling everything towards the center.
Once you get to the center of the wrapper, fold in the left and right sides of the wrapper towards the center. Brush the top corner of the wrapper with egg wash and roll up the spring roll.
Frying the Spring Rolls
Fill your wok with some peanut oil. Mama Lin and I love frying the spring rolls in the Made In Blue Carbon Steel Wok because of its narrower base.
Whenever you fry food in a wok, you want to cover the bottom of the wok with several inches of oil. That gives space for the food to move around and fry evenly. Because Made In’s wok has a tapered, narrower base, you can cover the bottom of the wok a lot quicker. In other words, you end up using less oil for deep frying.
Fry the spring rolls for about 4 minutes, until they turn golden brown. Made In’s wok retained heat quite well, so we didn’t adjust the heat on the stove much as we fried the spring rolls.
Once the spring rolls are done, transfer them to a baking sheet or large plates lined with paper towel to drain. It will be hard to resist picking them right off the baking sheet!
Vegetable and Pork Spring Rolls
- 1 cup sliced bamboo shoots about 4 ounces (see note 1)
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil divided (see note 2)
- 6 ounces ground pork
- 1/3 cup diced shallots about 1/2 of a large shallot
- 1 3/4 cups shredded carrots about 5 ounces
- 3 cups chopped green cabbage about 7.5 ounces
- 1/2 cup diced water chestnuts about 3 to 4 water chestnuts (see note 3)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 15 to 20 8-inch spring roll wrappers see note 4
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- oil for frying
- 3 large baking sheets or use large plates
- dry cloths
- spoons for scooping filling
- brush for brushing egg wash
- paper towels
Prepare the Filling
- Bring several cups of water to boil in the saucepan. Add the bamboo shoots and blanch them for 1 minute to get rid of the odor. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil in the wok over high heat. Add the pork and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes. The pork does not need to be fully cooked, but it should start to turn white on the outside. Use the end of your spatula to break up the meat into small pieces. Transfer the pork to a plate.
- Swirl the remaining tablespoon of peanut oil into the wok. Add the shallots and cook for about 1 minute. Add the carrots, cabbage, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts and cook for 2 minutes. Then, add the pork back into the wok and stir.
- In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and water together so that you get a slurry. Use your spatula to brush the vegetables and pork aside to create a space at the bottom of the wok. Pour the cornstarch slurry into that space. Let the slurry thicken for 30 seconds before your stir to incorporate it with the rest of the ingredients.
- Add the oyster sauce, salt, sugar, and white pepper. Stir to combine the seasoning with the ingredients. Spread the filling over a large baking sheet to cool for 10 minutes. Don’t transfer any liquid to the baking sheet. You do not want to wrap your spring rolls with hot filling. The heat will turn the spring roll wrappers soggy, making the spring rolls difficult to roll. It can also cause the wrapper to fall apart easily.
Set up the Spring Roll-Making Station
- The spring roll wrappers dry out easily. I usually take a short stack of wrappers (about 5 or 6) out of the package at a time. Then, cover the wrappers with a thick dry cloth to prevent them from drying. You can also cover it in plastic wrap.
- Have a large baking sheet or several large plates ready so that you can place the rolled up spring rolls on top. Make sure to have a dry cloth handy to cover the rolled up spring rolls.
- Place the filling and egg wash close by.
Prepare the Spring Rolls (refer to photos in the post for visuals)
- Take 1 sheet of the spring roll wrappers, and place lay it on the counter in a diamond shape, with one corner pointed towards you. Take about 2 tablespoons of filling and place it on the bottom. I like to leave a 1.5 to 2-inch gap between the filling and the bottom corner.
- Grab the bottom corner and start rolling up the spring roll. Stop when you get to the center of the wrapper. Fold in the left and right sides of the wrapper toward the center. Use the brush to brush egg wash over the top corner. Finish rolling up the spring roll. Lay the rolled up spring roll over the baking sheet and cover it with the dry cloth.
- Repeat the with the remaining wrappers and filling.
Cook the Spring Rolls
- Line paper towels over a baking sheet or over 2 large plates. You’ll be draining your spring rolls over these paper towels.
- Fill the wok with about 2 inches of oil (measured from the bottom of the wok). Heat the oil over medium-high heat for several minutes. If you insert a bamboo or wooden chopstick into the bottom of the wok and you can see tiny bubbles rapidly bubbling around the chopstick. This means the oil is hot enough for frying (see note 5).
- Carefully slide 5 spring rolls along the edge of the wok into the hot oil. This helps to prevent hot oil from splattering. Fry them for 3 to 4 minutes, flipping them halfway so that the spring rolls are evenly browned. Once the spring rolls are golden brown, remove the spring rolls from the wok with a kitchen spider or a skimmer.
- The first batch usually takes a little longer because the oil is just heating up. If you notice that the spring rolls are browning very quickly (turning dark brown in a minute or so), reduce the heat slightly.
- Continue frying the remaining spring rolls and turn off the heat when finished.
- Serve the spring rolls immediately with sweet chili sauce.
- You can find sliced bamboo shoots in the refrigerated section of a Chinese supermarket, around the tofu. You can use canned versions too, but rinse and julienne them into small strips.
- Substitute peanut oil with canola oil or safflower oil for the recipe.
- I like adding water chestnuts to the filling because they add crunchy texture. I prefer using fresh water chestnuts over canned ones because of their superior texture. You can find them at Chinese supermarkets.
- Find these wrappers in the freezer section of Asian supermarkets. You can use smaller sheets but use less filling for each spring roll. Note that these are not the dried rice paper wrappers for making fresh spring rolls.
- You can also test the heat of the oil by ripping off a tiny piece of the wrapper and placing it in the hot oil. If it the wrapper bubbles along the edges soon after you add it to the hot oil, then the wok is ready for frying.
- For larger parties, use the following amount for the filling (this will make between 30 to 35 spring rolls): 10 ounces ground pork, 1 ½ cups bamboo shoots, 3 cups shredded carrots, 4 ½ cups chopped cabbage, 3/4 cup diced shallots, 1 cup chopped water chestnuts, 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, 1 ½ teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon white pepper, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 tablespoons water
- Nutrition information: The info below is a very rough approximation of the calories, as I don’t know how much oil gets absorbed into the spring rolls when they’re fried.