I grew up with spring rolls packed full of flavour and meat. I grew up watching my mum marinating the pork before stir frying it and adding the colourful array of vegetables. The aroma would fill the house and while the filling cooled we would have to resist picking at it. Occasionally my dad would walk by and sneak a taste and incur an admonishment from my mum for doing so.
After many years of watching mum make the filling for spring rolls I don’t actually have the family recipe. I could always ask for it but I’m enjoying experimenting with filling combinations when I make my own spring rolls. There are after all no rules when it comes to spring rolls as there are so many varieties on offer. Although I do have one rule, my spring roll needs to have meat. My favoured meat is a good pork mince.
I have never made the spring roll pastry. I head to my local Asian grocer to buy what I need. This particular recipe makes 40 spring rolls. These days you can buy packs of spring roll pastry with 20, 40 or 50 sheets. It’s thin pastry usually kept in the freezer. I take the packet out of the freezer ahead of time to defrost so I can peel off layers as I need them during the assembling phase of spring roll. It’s also handy to have a clean damp tea towel placed over the pastry to maintain moisture levels.
Pork and Marinade Ingredients
- 500g pork mince
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon 5 spice
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon Shaoxing cooking wine
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 clove garlic finely minced
- 10 dried shiitake mushroom
- 227g tin of water chestnuts
- 2 carrots
- Half a Chinese cabbage
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons cornflour dissolved in 2 tablespoons of cold water
- 2L vegetable oil
- Combine the pork and marinade ingredients and mix very well. Marinate for 30-45 minutes.
- While the pork is marinating, prepare the vegetable filling. There’s a lot of chopping.
- Mince the clove of garlic and place to one side.
- 10 dried shiitake mushrooms need to be soaked and thinly sliced. I pour boiling water and leave them to soak for several hours. I also keep the water the mushroom has been soaking in for later use.
- Drain the tin of water chestnuts and roughly chop.
- Cut the carrots in half and julienne.
- Finely slice the Chinese cabbage
Cooking the Filling
- Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok and add the garlic and pork. Brown the pork over high heat. Add the mushrooms, carrot, and water chestnuts. Stir fry until the carrot starts to soften.
- Once the carrot begins softening, add the Chinese cabbage and continue stir frying. You may need to increase the heat to the wok as adding the cabbage will drop the temperature in the wok. As the cabbage cooks I add 1/4 cup of the water kept from soaking mushrooms and mix it through
- As the final moisture is simmering away I add soy sauce to adjust for taste. When I take the filling away from the heat of the wok for cooling it is still moist so that the filling of the spring rolls remains moist after deep frying.
- Allow the filling to cool completely before using.
- I placed two spoonfuls of filling on the pastry before wrapping it up. I didn’t take any photos of this part but I can tell you I subscribe to The Envelope Method, (scroll down to Method 2). I use the cornflour and water mix to seal the spring rolls.
- Heat up 2L of vegetable oil for deep frying. As the filling has been pre-cooked, the aim is to fry the spring rolls to a golden brown colour.
I tend to have a spicy sweet chilli sauce with my spring rolls but there are no hard and fast rules.