It’s Friday night, and your family needs some comfort food. You look at the numerous menus on your fridge, and low and behold; you see your local Chinese restaurant. You order sesame chicken, fried rice, wonton soup, and to top it off – an egg roll!
You may know of the egg roll, but have you heard of the egg roll’s older brother, the spring roll? This delicious rolled appetizer is most commonly eaten in Chinese culture and has been adapted all around the world.
We’ll share with you our easy spring roll recipe, which you can make at home with your family. Plus, after reading this post, you can tell your little ones about the history behind these tasty rolls.
What Are Spring Rolls?
Spring rolls or chūn juǎn are rolled appetizers found primarily in Chinese and Asain cuisine. These savory rolls are filled with meat, such as pork, chicken, or seafood. They also contain various vegetables like cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, onions, garlic, chives, or cilantro.
Spring rolls can be served fried or fresh and are traditionally wrapped in wheat flour with water and salt. However, in Vietnam, you can find them wrapped in translucent rice paper. The difference between spring rolls and egg rolls is that egg roll wrappers are made out of eggs, and of course, spring rolls are eaten in spring.
Why Are Spring Rolls Eaten in Spring?
Spring rolls are a seasonal food that is believed to have originated in China. They are traditionally eaten during the Spring Festival, hence where they get their famous name. The Spring Festival held on the first day of spring in mainland China is a celebration to welcome the arrival of the spring season.
Spring marks the beginning of the year in China, and spring rolls are considered their traditional Chinese New Year food. These rolls are an important part of the celebration because they symbolize blessing and wealth.
Tradition has it that spring rolls ward off evil spirits because of their pungent ingredients (onions, garlic, and leeks). These ingredients also bring good health and are known for helping the “five viscera of traditional Chinese medicine” – the hearts, liver, lungs, kidneys, and spleen.
Prior to the spring rolls we know today, there were “spring pancakes” or “thin pancakes,” which were pancakes made with flour and filled with fresh spring vegetables. These pancakes welcomed a new start and revived people from long winter months and preserved foods.
These pancakes were sent to friends and family as a spring blessing. Plates were generally decorated with carrots, celery, salted meats, eggs, sprouts, and sauces.
Spring Rolls Around the World
Today, spring rolls can be eaten at any time of year and are generally small, fried, and crisp. They are enjoyed by a variety of different cultures such as Vietnamese, Latin Americans, Europeans, Australians, and more.
They can be eaten as a snack or appetizer, savory or sweet, and with or without meat. Some have flour wrapping, whereas others can have rice paper. Chinese spring rolls pair wonderfully with dumplings, fried rice, fried cabbage, and Chinese egg drop soup (which we happen to have a recipe for in our Great Empires Activity Study).
How to Make Our Easy Spring Roll Recipe
Spring rolls are a fun recipe to make, especially with your little ones. Below, we’ll teach you how to make and wrap spring rolls.
Spring Roll Ingredients:
- 1 c. bean sprouts
- 1 bunch scallions
- 2 carrots
- 1-1/2 c. mushrooms
- 2/3 c. bamboo shoots, sliced
- 3-4 Tbs. vegetable oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 1 Tbs. soy sauce
- approximately 20 egg spring roll wrappers
- 1 Tbs. rice wine (can use cooking wine or sherry)
- 1 Tbs. cornstarch paste (2 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 2-1/2 tsp. water. Stir until dissolved)
- oil deep enough to fry in
- Shred vegetables by hand or in a food processor.
- Stir-fry the vegetables in 1 Tbs. of oil briefly, to begin to soften.
- Add sugar, soy sauce, salt, and wine. Continue stirring for two more minutes and remove from the pan.
- Drain and cool until able to be handled.
- Cut a wrap diagonally and place 1 tsp. of the vegetables in the center of the wrap.
- Begin at the wide end and roll over the mixture toward the small end. Brush the small end with cornstarch paste and continue rolling tightly to the end.
- On a baking sheet, either sprinkle flour or brush with oil and set spring rolls on it while you continue wrapping the others.
- Fry in hot oil in a wok or fryer for 2-3 minutes per batch or until golden.
- Drain on paper towels and serve with duck sauce, sweet and sour sauce, Chinese mustard, or soy sauce.
Who Says You Need to Order Out for Chinese Food?
Now that you know how to make this delicious fried spring roll recipe, who needs to order out for Chinese food? Once you and your kids make this recipe, your family will be eating Chinese food on the regular! And as a bonus, you’ll all become educated on the history of ancient China.
More Resources on China
If you’re looking for more resources on ancient China, check out our Great Empires Activity Study, which includes the history of great empires like Egypt, Greece, Rome, Japan, and more. We also cover China in our Wonders of the World Lap-Pak.