Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cantonese Spring Rolls

I've been making these for several years and every time someone new is introduced to these, they always rave about them and ask for the recipe. Often, it is my contribution to a lunch or dinner party. They are quite simple to make but a bit time consuming, and this is why I just set aside a day to make them and we can have them on-hand if we feel like something simple and flavourful! These are best when eaten immediately but my family and a few of my friends will eat the leftovers straight out of the fridge.

The photos shows a batch which yielded 40 spring rolls. I usually only follow the recipes when I make something for the first time and then I tweak it to my own/family's taste. This time, I didn't feel like shelling shrimp so I omitted it altogether. You can choose to make it more meaty or more vegetables, less salty, more 5 spice powder, etc. It's up to you - that's the beauty of home cooking! These are great served as an appetizer with or without any dipping sauce or plum sauce. The sauce on the side is Thai sweet chili sauce which is very yummy and my favourite.

½ lb. ground pork
3 tbsp. soy sauce
½ tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. five spice powder
½ lb. raw shrimp, thawed, peeled, shelled, chopped
4 large shitake mushrooms, chopped, about ½ cup
½ lb. bean sprouts (blanch to get most of the water out)
1 carrot, shredded
1 tbsp. cornstarch
medium size spring roll wrappers (sold in most supermarkets in packages of appoximately 20 sheets)
1 egg, lightly beaten
oil for deep frying (corn/vegetable/canola)

Heat a large wok or pan and add 1 tbsp. oil, then add pork and stir-fry for about two minutes, or until it loses its pink color. Add soy sauce, sugar, shrimp and mushrooms. Stir-fry for another minutes or two, until the shrimp turns pink. Scoop and set side in a bowl.

Heat the skillet/wok again over moderate heat for 30 seconds and add oil and salt. Add blanched and drained bean sprouts and shredded carrots, and stir-fry for about 5 minutes. Add the salt, five spice powder and toss for a couple of minutes. Return the pork and shrimp mixture to the pan and stir until all the ingredients are well combined. Cook over high heat, stirring until the liquid starts to boil. There should be about 2 tablespoons of liquid remaining in the center when you push the food to the side. If there is more, spoon it out and discard.

Add a bit of water to the cornstarch and dribble it in the center of the pan. Stir until the liquids have thickened and then toss to coat all the ingredients with the light glaze. Scoop out filling and cool before wrapping.

Wrap and fry in a pot of heated oil until golden brown.

Here's a good easy-to-follow technique on wrapping at Ming Tsai's site. He says to brush all the sides with egg but I actually only use the back of a fork dipped in the beaten egg to the last corner (Ming Tsai's step 8) to seal it up before the last roll.

**HANDY TIP**When I am ready to wrap, I remove the wrappers from the freezer to the refrigerator except for one pack. You have to peel the sheets apart which can be a job in itself. I find that it is easier to peel apart when the "skins" are still partially frozen so I remove a new pack from the fridge a pack at a time.

**HANDY TIP**This recipe is easily double or tripled. The above recipe will yield approximately 20 spring rolls. When I cook, I often cook in volumes. I will make a batch that will yield approximately 200 spring rolls. I freeze them layered between plastic wrap to prevent sticking. When you are ready to have them, I heat a pot of oil and deep fry frozen, and with anything, try to keep the oil temperature steady and hot by frying too many at the same time. If you defrost them first, the skin may get saturated by the water and burst in the oil.


  1. Yummy spring rolls! I'll have to muster the courage to make them one day. Btw, I left an award for you on my site.

  2. Truly delicious. I just tried it and it is truly idiot proof! Great recipe

  3. These are great! I am inexperienced when it comes to Asian cuisines....but this I think I can manage : )

  4. Hi Caitlin,

    Thanks for dropping by. Please do let me know how they turned out. I think I am a bit skimpy with the soy sauce in this recipe (1 Tbsp). Probably would need at least 3 tbsps!

    Good luck!

  5. you should NEVER cook the meat before rolling it... it makes it SOOOOO much harder to roll. when the meat is raw, the mix is very sticky and all the ingredients stay together very well. The meat does cook through the spring roll wrap. So if you're afraid of salmonella or not cooked enough meat, don't fret.

  6. boydancer,

    I have to disagree with you on this one. True that it would be easier to roll but if you don't cook the filling first, the filling will have the consistency of a meatball, which is not what it's suppose to be like. It would be like making fried rice by throwing all the ingredients into the rice cooker. I have made vietnamese spring rolls without cooking the filling and the texture is different. Give it a try and let me know what you think.