One of the things I love about fall is making spring rolls. We fry them out in the garage to avoid the greasy, smelly mess they can leave in their wake. Here in Wisconsin, it is too hot and humid in the summer and way too cold in the winter, so we stock up in the fall and spring and make them by the boatload. When I first started making these, I was very confused. Are they made with raw pork? What is with the wrappers–are they rice paper wrappers? What kind of noodles do I need in them? How do I deal with Asian ingredients, when the directions are not in English? I consulted various websites, but unfortunately today none of the links work anymore. What you will find here is a combination of some of those recipes with my own ideas, tricks and tweaks to create the ultimate spring roll guide. Well, maybe ultimate is going a little too far, but I hope to take some of the confusion and disasters away that I faced when beginning to make them.
- If you are making the full 150 that this recipe calls for, try and spread the tasks out across 2 days. Do the shopping and sauces one day and the rolling and frying the next day. The frying alone takes 3.5 hours. This ends up being an all day event so make sure you have the time and try to con your friends and family into helping you.
- It is very important to make sure that all of the ingredients get evenly mixed. Instead of mixing everything together at the same time, I have found that it is better to slowly incorporate each ingredient into the mixture.
- Do not roll the spring rolls too far in advance. If the wrappers get too moist, they will not fry properly and start to break open and brown too quickly. The salt will start to draw out moisture from the filling and make the wrappers too soggy to work with.
- These freeze and reheat wonderfully if done correctly. See tips for freezing at the end.
Makes approximately 150 Spring Rolls
- 14 ounces Bean Thread Noodles
- 150 frozen Spring Roll Wrappers
- Dried Shitake Mushrooms
- Dried Wood Ear Mushrooms or Black Fungus Mushrooms
- 2 pounds Shallots
- 5 pounds Carrots
- 5 pounds raw Ground Pork
- 4 cups Cilantro (2 cups chopped and packed)
- 8 teaspoons Soy Sauce
- 8 teaspoons Kosher Salt
- 3 teaspoons fresh Cracked Black Pepper
- Corn Starch
- Peanut Oil for frying
A few Notes on some of the ingredients:
- Wrappers: Make sure that you use the frozen spring roll wrappers, not the thicker wonton / egg roll style wrappers. I have used Banh Trang (rice paper), but they do not fry up as well and turn out much more greasy. These frozen spring roll wrappers are light and flaky and have a pastry-like quality.
- Noodles: I have made these spring rolls with both rice vermicelli and bean thread noodles (they are also called bean vermicelli, cellophane noodles or glass noodles). I prefer the transparent bean thread noodles.
- Dried Mushrooms: Scared of something called dried black fungus? Awww… it’s okay, they won’t bite! They are actually quite mild in flavor. With the small amount called for in this recipe along with chopping them up very fine, you won’t even know they are there. They do add a nice flavor to the spring roll so I recommend you at least try them this way.
- Oil for frying: I prefer to use peanut oil. I find that the spring rolls come out very crispy and not oily. Peanut oil also has a very neutral flavor so you do not taste the oil.
Bring a pot of water to a boil and let the mushrooms soak off of the heat for 30 minutes. I used about 1/2 of each of the 2.5 ounce bags shown above.
While the mushrooms are re-hydrating, peel and grate the carrots, and finely mince the shallots.
For the noodles, bring a pot of water to a boil and soak the noodles off of the heat also, but only for 3 – 5 minutes or until done. Rinse them under cold water so they are completely cooled off, and let them drain for about 5 minutes — do not let them clump together. Drain and finely mince the mushrooms.
Throughout this mixing step, slowly add 3 teaspoons of fresh cracked pepper, 6 teaspoons of soy sauce and 6 teaspoons of kosher salt. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the shallots, carrots, cilantro and 1 and 1/2 cups of the mushrooms together. When the veggies have been mixed together, roughly chop the noodles and work them into the mixture.
Combine the pork with 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of fresh cracked black pepper.
Throughly combine the meat and veggie mixture.
On to the wrapping. Remember how I mentioned that you need to con family and friends into helping? Well, the wrapping is done by Kris, so she’ll take over the instructions for it.
Make sure that you have thawed out the spring roll wrappers 30 minutes prior to use. I also pull each one apart to make for quicker wrapping. Once you are ready to begin, mix together corn starch with water in a bowl (I don’t really measure, just dump a little corn starch into the bowl and add water and stir). The corn starch will be your glue. Have the meat and veggie mixture in front of you. Put a wrapper onto your work surface, and place about a tablespoon of the meat and veggie mixture onto the wrapper as shown below. Fold the bottom over the mixture, and then put the corn starch mixture all along the remaining three edges (I find it easiest to use my fingers – much quicker than using a spoon). Fold over each side, then roll the wrapper up.
Before you get busy with rolling and frying, STOP! Do a test run of 2 or 3 rolls. Make sure they get thoroughly cooked at your planned time and temperature. I normally fry 5 rolls for 7 minutes at 375 degrees, but you may need to adjust this. You also need to make sure that the seasoning is correct and adjust it accordingly as needed. This is important! Don’t go making 150 under-seasoned and undercooked spring rolls!
A couple of sauces to serve this with:
Tips for freezing and reheating:
- When the spring rolls have cooled off to room temperature, lay them out, one layer deep on a sheet pan and freeze them for 3 – 24 hours.
- When they are completely frozen solid, seal them with a vacuum food sealer. By sealing them frozen, we avoid squishing and crushing them.
- You can place them completely frozen in an non-preheated oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees or thawed in a preheated oven for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees.