This recipe for Chinese spring rolls is the real deal. Last summer I spent almost four weeks in China, an amazing country to visit and intriguing in many ways, including the food. I was warned in advance for the ‘bad food’ over there. I was told it all tasted the same, was greasy and I don’t know what else… If you are ever travelling there then don’t worry. I tried a lot of dishes and although there were a few things I decided not to order again, all food I had was varied, tasty and good. I tried a wide variety of mushrooms, hotpots, leaf vegetables, fishes – big and small – and even started to appreciate rice porridge for breakfast.
When travelling through Italy I was forced to delete some photos from my last vacation. I had already put them on my computer but did not delete them from the memory card yet. Seeing the pictures from my time in China brought back memories, especially when I found some pictures of a cooking class I took.
In the city of Dali in the Yunnan province we took a cooking class with Rice and Friends. The class was hosted by Luxi in a lovely small house with a rooftop kitchen studio. Luxi was excellent in explaining the different ingredients used in the Chinese kitchen like light and dark soy sauces, peppers, rice wine and vinegar.
One of the dishes she allowed me to share with you is the recipe for delicious pork and veggie spring rolls. I enjoyed making them as much as eating them
Oh and do take a class with her when you decide to go to Dali!
This is what you need:
- 70 gr. soy bean sprouts
- 70 gr. Chinese chives
- 150 gr. ground pork
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 stalk spring onion
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 12 sheets of filo dough (squares of around 15×15 cm)
- vegetable oil, for deep frying (about 1/2 liter to 1 liter)
- 3/4 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp. Chinese cooking wine (or dry sherry)
- 1 tsp. corn starch
This is how:
We start with the marinade. Then take a bowl and combine the light soy sauce (which is generally lighter of colour and more salty than dark soy sauce), cooking wine and cornstarch. Mix it with the meat and leave it for 10 minutes.
Roughly chop the soy bean sprouts and finely chop the chinese chives and spring onion. Grate the ginger.
Next up is the filling. Bring water to a boil and add a little salt and a few drops of cooking oil. Blanch the Chinese chives and bean sprouts for 10 seconds. Put the veggies in a sieve and use a spatula to squeeze out all the extra liquid. Set the sieve aside.
Heat 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil in the wok over medium high heat. When the wok is hot, add the ground pork and stir fry until the meat is no longer pink. Fry until all moisture has evaporated and the meat look dry. Then add in the bean sprouts and chinese chives and fry for a few seconds. Add the remaining salt, sugar, light soy sauce, ginger and spring onions and mix well. Then put the mixture back into the sieve and use the spatula again to squeeze out the extra liquid. Set the sieve aside again and let the mixture cool down.
Next up is the assembly of the spring rolls.
Whisk together the cornstarch and egg. This mixture is used as ‘glue’ to seal the edges of the spring roll. Open the filo dough package and cover it with a slightly moist towel to keep the dough from drying out. The easiest would be to buy filo dough in the right size. Cutting bigger sheets in appropriate sizes works as well of course.
When the filling is cool, place 1 tablespoon of filling near the bottom corner of the filo dough sheet. Fold over the corner of the dough and tuck it in under the filling. Fold over the left and right sides of the filo dough. Continue rolling up the dough. When you are almost finished, lightly brush the edges of the top corner with the beaten egg mixture, fold over and seal. Place them seam side down to help secure the corner so that the corner doesn’t pop out.
It is crucial that the spring roll filling is rolled in tightly, leaving no air holes. Little pockets of air can fill up with oil when you are baking the spring rolls, which is something to avoid. Another reason for oil to come into the springrolls is little cracks in the dough. Therefore make sure you cover the spring rolls with plastic foil to keep the dough from drying out and crack open. Also inpect each spring roll for corners that have popped open. Fix with more cornstarch slurry if needed.
Now let’s start frying some spring rolls!
Pour a layer of vegetable oil in a wok pan. The amount depends on the size and depth or curve of your pan. When frying the spring rolls will need to float in the oil and you will bake one side, flip it, and bake the other side until both sides are golden brown (about 3 minutes). So you will need to have enough oil in your pan for the bottom half of the spring roll to be floating in oil. Don’t bother about creating a large surface of oil for baking multiple spring rolls at a time. It only takes a few moments for the spring roll to be done on one side. So unless you are an experienced spring roll flipper I would start by two at a time. You put one in, let it be, and while you put the second one in the first one will be ready to flipped to fry the other side. This way it is easiest to manage while you get the hang of it.
By the way, the best way to check if your oil has the right temperature is to put the tip of a wooden (!) chopstick in. If the oil around the chopstick starts to bubble you are ready to go.
Serve with Chinese black rice vinegar.