A great weekend project, Chinese spring rolls are thin, elegant and deep-fried to a golden crunch. We gathered lots of bok choy, onions, and carrots at the farm this week for filling the rolls. There are a few steps, but not too difficult to pull together. Just keep a few essentials in mind for perfect rolls. The filling must be cooled completely before shaping the rolls. If the filling is warm, the wrappers become soggy on the inside, which you will not be able to rectify. Likewise, once the rolls are filled, deep-fry right away. The moist filling will begin soaking into the wrappers as soon as they are filled. Deep-fry the rolls in batches, rolling the next batch while you fry a batch.
To streamline the work, prepare the filling the day ahead or in the morning and cool completely in the refrigerator. When it comes time to cook and serve, simply fill, shape, and fry the rolls.
Serve with plum or duck sauce, hot mustard, or a mixture of soy, rice vinegar, minced ginger, and scallions.
For the Mushrooms
8 dried Chinese black mushrooms
For the Pork and Marinade
pound center-cut, boneless pork loin (may substitute boneless chicken breast,
crabmeat, or peeled and de-veined shrimp)
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Asian toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine, sake, or dry sherry
1 teaspoon cornstarch
For the Spring Rolls
Vegetable, corn, or
safflower oil for cooking filling and deep-frying
3 large cloves garlic, minced
3 cups finely sliced leeks or onions
3 cups finely shredded Chinese (Napa) cabbage or bok choy
4 carrots, shredded
3 cups fresh mung bean sprouts
20 to 25 spring roll wrappers
Place the mushrooms in a bowl and cover with hot water. Soak for 30 minutes, drain, remove stems, rinse thoroughly, and cut the caps into fine shreds. Set aside.
While the mushrooms soak, prepare the pork. Trim all the fat and gristle from the pork loin. Cut into thin slices, and then cut the slices into shreds. Place the pork in a bowl and add the remaining marinade ingredients. Toss well to coat and set aside to marinate for 20 minutes.
While the pork marinates, cut all the vegetables. When the meat has marinated, heat a wok or large, heavy skillet over high heat until hot. Add 2 tablespoons oil of choice and heat for 30 seconds. Add the marinated pork and stir-fry over high heat, stirring constantly, until it loses its raw color and the shreds separate. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels. Wipe out the pan.
Return pan to high heat and add 2 more tablespoons oil, and heat for 30 seconds. Add the garlic and reserved mushrooms and stir-fry for 15 seconds, until fragrant. Add the leeks and stir-fry 1 minute. Add the cabbage and carrots and stir-fry 1 minute. Add the sprouts and stir-fry to heat through. Transfer the filling to a platter, add the reserved pork, mix in thoroughly, and cool the filling completely.
To make the spring rolls, place one wrapper with a point facing you on a work surface. Place a portion of the cooled filling below the center (nearest you) and form into a crosswise log. Leave at least ½ -inch border. Fold up the point nearest you and roll once. Fold the right and left hand flap over toward the center and continue to roll firmly to the far point. Seal with a little water. Repeat until you have made 5 spring rolls. Cook the rolls in batches, rolling another 5 while the previous 5 are cooking.
Heat about 4 cups of oil in the wok over high heat. It should be about 365 to 375 degrees. Test with a bit of bread or egg roll wrapper; it should sizzle instantly. Slide in 5 spring rolls. Lower the heat to medium-high and fry rolls about 4 minutes, turning them constantly, until golden brown and crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain. Continue frying the rolls in batches until all the spring rolls are cooked.
Add any combination of the following ingredients to the spring roll filling:
Minced fresh ginger
Chopped fresh cilantro
Bean thread noodles, soaked 10 minutes in hot water, drained, and cut
Thin omelet, cooled and shredded
Recipe and Photograph Copyright Deirdre Davis 2016
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