KitchenTigress: Fried Spring Rolls

Fried Spring Rolls

Chinese spring rolls are thin wheat flour wraps filled with stir-fried vegetables. Jicama is the most common vegetable used. Other choices include green beans, bean sprouts. Spring rolls that aren't fried must be made with very thin wraps that are sold fresh. Frozen wraps are thicker. These are for fried spring rolls.

Tips for making fried spring rolls with jicama filling:

🌲 When buying turnip, pick the smaller ones. These tend to be younger and, hence, sweeter and less starchy than the big ones. They're also easier to peel and cut if you have small hands like me.

🌲 Cut jicama matchstick-size without turning it mushy. Do this with a sharp knife. You could also use a food processor or grater but if it's not razor sharp, your filling will be mushy. Spring rolls filled with mushy jicama is not nice at all.

🌲 You don't need a lot of oil to stir-fry turnip because it's sweet and crunchy, not bitter or fibrous.

🌲 The filling should be crunchy. Don't overcook the turnip.

🌲Use the maximum heat possible for stir-frying the filling. Julienned turnip releases a lot of liquid when it's stir-fried. Strong heat is needed to evaporate the sweet liquid. If it's not evaporated, it'd have to be drained. That'd be a waste of great flavour.

🌲 Drain the filling well before wrapping. If it's too wet, the spring roll wrap will tear.

🌲 To keep spring rolls for frying the next day, put them in the fridge, uncovered on a wire rack, so that water doesn't condense on or underneath the pastry. Or you could do the wrapping just before frying.

🌲 You might be tempted to embellish the filling with dried mushrooms, fresh prawns or fried beancurd. But it's really not necessary if the turnip is cooked with good quality dried prawns, and a good amount of sugar and ground white pepper. That's my mother's recipe, btw.

🌲 Frozen spring roll pastry comes in various sizes. The Goldilocks size – not too big; not too small – is 19 x 19 cm (7½ x 7½ inches).

How to make fried spring rolls

Step-by-step guide

The key to good fried spring rolls is stir-fried jicama that's crunchy and well seasoned. This recipe uses lots of dried prawns, sugar and ground white pepper to give the filling extra oomph.

fried spring rolls
(For 20 rolls)
  • 40 g dried prawns – wash; soak in 2 tbsp hot water till soft, about 15 minutes; squeeze dry, reserving the water; chop roughly
  • 1 kg turnip (aka 沙葛, jicama, bangkuang, and yam bean) – wash and peel to yield about 900 g, cut matchstick size
  • 120 g carrots cut matchstick size – wash and peel to yield about 100 g; cut matchstick size
  • 3 big cloves garlic – peel, mince
  • vegetable oil for stir- and deep-frying
  • 2 tbsp light soya sauce
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • ¾ tsp ground white pepper
  • 19 x 19 cm frozen spring roll wraps – thaw to room temperature, separate 20 pieces and cover till ready to wrap, refreeze unused pastry

  1. Prepare dried prawns, turnip, carrots and garlic as detailed above.

  2. In a very hot wok, heat 2 tbsp oil till just smoking. Add dried prawns and fry over maximum heat till lightly golden. Add garlic and fry till golden brown. Add turnip and carrots. Stir-fry till heated through. Add light soya sauce and sugar. Mix thoroughly. Drizzle with water used to soak dried prawns. Stir-fry till almost dry. Turnip should now be cooked but still crunchy.

  3. Taste and if necessary adjust seasoning. Sprinkle with ground white pepper. Mix through and turn off heat. Push everything to one side of wok to drain off sauce. When cool, transfer to a bowl, minus sauce.

  4. Spread out spring roll wrap in a diamond shape. With a Chinese soup spoon, place 1 heaped tablespoonful filling (40-50 g) near bottom corner. Fold bottom corner upward, then fold left and right corners inward. Roll upward tightly. Set aside, seam side down. Repeat with remaining wraps.

  5. Deep-fry spring rolls in very hot oil over medium heat till golden brown. Drain. Serve immediately.