Vegan Chinese Spring Rolls

Chinese Spring Rolls are delicious. Crispy on the outside they burst with flavour and texture as you bite into them. They are great as a side dish or as nibbles at a gathering and are surprisingly easy to make. As a bonus, they contain much less fat than store bought spring rolls and can be made vegan with tofu in place of shrimp and by making your own rolling dough. This recipe will yield 15-20 spring rolls depending on how tight you roll them, which is the real art to these tricky little delights. Prep Time: 35 minutes          Cook Time: 10 minutes                     Total Time: 45 minutes Add 1 1/4 if you’ll be making your own spring roll wrappers from scratch (easy to do).

Ingredients for filling:
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 thumb-size piece grated ginger
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 red chili, minced, OR 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 4-6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup medium to firm tofu, broken up between your fingers
  • approx. 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil,  chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. oil, plus some for frying
Ingredients for stir-fry sauce:
  • 2 Tbsp. regular soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetarian stir-fry sauce (omit if you don’t have any)
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
Ingredients for spring roll wrappers:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • cooking spray, as needed

Thai sweet chili sauce or soy sauce to serve.

Directions for spring roll wrappers:

In a large bowl, stir salt into flour. Add the water to form a batter. Cover and let rest for 1 hour. Spray a pan with cooking spray or add a little oil, and heat on medium low heat. Turn the heat to low and add a heaped tablespoon of  batter to the middle of the pan. Quickly spread the batter evenly to form a circle 5 – 6 inches in diameter. Continue smoothing out the batter as the skin cooks. They will cook very fast. Watch for when the edges curl slightly, flip for to cook the reverse for a few seconds then remove from the pan. Keep cool in the fridge until use. They also freeze well.

Okay, so you’ve got your wrappers, now for the filling.

Directions for spring roll filling:
  1. Place 2 Tbsp. oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium to high heat. Add garlic, ginger, onion and chilli. Stir-fry until fragrant (about 1 minute). Tip: If the mixture becomes dry try adding some water instead of oil to keep down the fat content.
  2. Now add the cabbage, mushrooms, carrot and tofu. Mix with excitement. As you stir-fry, add the sauce. Stir-fry for a further 1-2 minutes, until vegetables have softened and you want to start eating your creation.
  3. Remove from heat and add bean sprouts, toss to mix in.
  4. Do a taste test, adding some salt or soy sauce if it’s not salty enough.

5. To assemble rolls, place a spring roll wrapper on a clean working surface. Place one heaping Tbsp. of the filling on the wrapper, you’ll soon discover the perfect amount given the size of your paper . Tips: Try not to include too much of the liquid as drier filling is works better.

6. Sprinkle the coriander and basil over the filling. (I bet you were wondering when this would come into the recipe).

7. Fold the left and right sides of wrapper over filling, then lift up the wide end nearest you and tuck overtop. Roll to the other end. Secure the roll by dipping your fingers in some water and wetting the end, “pasting” it shut.

8. To fry spring rolls, place some oil (about 1 inch deep) in a wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. To fry without the rolls absorbing too much oil, it must be hot. (Read more about using oil here). Hot enough to form bubbles. To test it, dip one corner of a spring roll into the oil. If it begins to sizzle and cook, the oil is ready. If not, wait another 30 seconds and try again.

9 Using tongs (or chop sticks) place spring rolls in oil, allowing them to fry for about 1 minute on each side. Spring rolls are done when they turn light to medium golden-brown (see photo). Place on a clean dish towel to drain while you finish frying the rest. The towel  should absorb the excess oil.

10. Serve spring rolls while still hot with Thai Sweet Chili Sauce, or soy sauce. Reveal in your accomplishment!
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