Fried Spring Rolls (Video #135)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Regular readers of this blog would know I made my first cooking video last week. So why is this video #135 instead of #2? Heh . . . heh . . . heh . . . . Because I'm following a Chinese custom.

In the old days far, far away in China, an abundance of male heirs to carry on the family name was considered good fortune. So much so that if someone had only one or two sons – which was tantamount to a tragedy – he'd say he had 11 or 12. IOW, it was how many he actually had, plus 10. Hence, the eldest son became #11, and the second son #12. Note that the creative accounting applied to sons only. It was perfectly alright to have only one daughter, or even none at all.

Since we're inflating the numbers – COOKING the books! – why stop at 10, right? OTOH, if I said I've made 34,347,595 videos, no one would believe me. So I'm going for something that's impressive but within reason. I reckon 135 sounds good.

Jokes aside, here are a few tips for making fried spring rolls (not that you need any, or that spring rolls are difficult to make):

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

If you're using a grater, make sure it's razor-sharp. Otherwise, the turnip will be mushy.

 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.

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

Use the maximum heat possible for stir-frying the filling. If the wok isn't hot enough, the juices from the turnip won't evaporate and will have to be drained off. That'll be a waste of the flavour.

 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).

You don't have to make spring rolls with the filling. It's delicious eaten with rice or porridge, or you can use it to make soon kueh.


POPIAH (SPRING ROLLS; 薄饼/春卷)
(Recipe for 20 pieces)

40 g dried prawns (⅓ cup)
wash and 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 and yam bean)
wash and peel, leaving about 900 g; cut matchstick size
120 g carrot cut matchstick size
wash and peel, leaving about 100 g; cut matchstick size
3 big cloves garlic
peel and mince finely
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 pastry
thaw to room temperature; separate 20 pieces and cover till ready to wrap; refreeze unused pastry

Prepare dried prawns, turnip, carrot and garlic as detailed above.

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 nicely 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 evaporated. Turnip should now be cooked but still crunchy. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, then 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 filling to a bowl, minus sauce.

To wrap, spread out pastry in a diamond shape. With a Chinese soup spoon, place 1 heaped tablespoonful filling (40-50 g) near bottom corner. Fold bottom corner upwards, then left and right corners. Roll upwards tightly. Set aside, seam side down. Repeat with remaining pastry.

Heat oil in a wok till just smoking. Deep-fry spring rolls over medium heat till golden brown. Drain. Serve immediately.

5 comments:

Shuhan said...

Ooh another video! Anyway will hopefully be trying this recipe soon, well actually not for spring rolls because I've had enough of deep frying, just makes the kitchen really greasy after that, but would LOVE making the filling to use for soon kueh, or actually, because the filling is always the best part for me, maybe I'll just try the filliing over rice. If it's your mum's recipe, I trust it must be really good! jicama is not easily available though, you think daikon radish i.e. mooli will work ok?

KT said...

I think any mild flavoured, crunchy vegetable would make a nice filling.
I have a Hokkien friend whose family recipe for unfried popiah uses
French beans. That's totally authentic Hokkien popiah. I had bean sprout fried popiah before which was quite
nice. I think cabbage and Chinese leaves would do too. In fact, Shanghainese spring rolls are made with Chinese leaves? And then there's roast duck spring rolls (!) invented by, I believe, the Brits.

I'm not sure about daikon because I've never eaten it stir-fried. Raw daikon has a . . .  pungency (?), which is reduced after prolonged cooking but might be still quite strong after a quick stir-fry? How about making some carrot cake with the daikon?

Anonymous said...

We love having spring rolls now and then for tea but I've given up on making them as they go soft and limp within minutes and the corners get quite dark. any advice?

Veron

Jose said...

I've just found your site and I'm realizing if there is a recipe for the spring roll pastry. I'm form Peru in South America and don't know where to buy that pastry here

KT said...

Sorry, I don't have any recipe for spring roll pastry. If the pastry is available in Peru, it'd be in the frozen section of some Asian or Chinese grocery store or supermarket. Or you could ask Chinese restaurants that serve spring rolls where they get their pastry from.

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