Make Your Own Spring Rolls

Spring rolls make wonderful appetizers at restaurants featuring Asian fare. Like little packages containing a delightful combination of culinary delight, the many components of a spring roll tantalize our mouths and deliver a satisfactory introduction to a promising meal.

The delicately flaky, crisp texture of the outer coating, the steaming vegetables or meats that comprise the substance of the spring roll, and the accompanying dipping sauce that enhances the overall flavor need not be relegated to restaurants. You can enjoy delicious homemade spring rolls in your own kitchen, with only a minor amount of effort.

To begin, of course you will need the most important component of spring rolls, that being the spring roll wrapper itself. Spring roll wrappers, also known as rice paper, are essentially a thin, doughy substance comprised of water, rice flour or tapioca flour, and salt. A slightly thicker version of the dough is often found as the wrapping for egg rolls.

Spring roll wrappers can usually be found at many supermarkets, or in Asian groceries. Typically, they will need to be moistened before use, and after being filled, they can be served cold, or will then be fried, as is more commonplace, and in my opinion, much tastier.

Recipes for spring rolls can be discovered aplenty on the internet or in Asian-themed cookbooks, but essentially, you can be the master of your own creations, filling the spring roll wrapper with any combination of delicious fare.

Common ingredients used in many spring rolls are lettuce, rice noodles, shrimp, minced or shredded pork or beef, shredded carrots, mushrooms, tofu, and mung bean sprouts. You can get increasingly creative, adding such elements as mango or cucumber, mint and basil, or diced chili peppers.

A simple recipe for Chinese spring rolls requires the following: a package of spring roll wrappers, about 4 Chinese dried mushrooms, 8 oz. of Chinese barbecued pork, cooked and thinly sliced (substitute cooked shrimp, chicken, or beef if desired), 1 cup each of shredded cabbage and shredded celery, a shredded scallion, and a 1/2 cup of shredded bamboo shoots.

To begin, soak the mushrooms in cold water for about thirty minutes until softened. Remove the stems and slice the mushrooms into small pieces.

Using a wok or large frying pan, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and stir fry all the ingredients except the spring roll wrappers for about three minutes, adding a pinch of pepper and a teaspoon of soy sauce toward the end of frying. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Once the ingredients have cooled, in a bowl, combine a tablespoon of flour with four teaspoons of cold water. Laying out a suitably moistened spring roll wrapper (follow the instructions on the package) on a cutting board, spread about a 1/4 cup of the ingredient mixture near one corner of the wrapper and begin folding the wrapper over it, following up by folding in the sides, and then tightly rolling the rest of the wrapper. Before reaching the very end of the wrapper, lightly brush the end with the flour water, and then seal the spring roll, setting it seam side down.

Repeat the process with the other wrappers. In a large saucepan (approx. three quarts, or a deep fryer if you have one) heat a quart of vegetable oil to 375�°F. Fry the spring rolls in the oil until they turn golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. After removing them from the oil, pat them dry with paper towels and allow them to cool slightly, then serve with either soy sauce or a tasty spring roll dipping sauce, many varieties of which can be purchased in supermarkets or Asian groceries.

This recipe makes six spring rolls.

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