Classic Vegetable Spring Rolls (vegan)
Spring rolls are eaten as a symbol of wealth and prosperity during the Chinese new year. Find out just how easy it is to make these vegan spring rolls below.
Recipes for a prosperous Chinese New Year
Chinese new year (also known as the spring festival) is a 15 day festival that usually falls at the end of January or the beginning of February. There are lots of foods that are traditionally eaten around the festival because of their symbolism (which is usually based on their pronunciation or appearance). Often the way the food is prepared or the way in which it is eaten is also important.
Spring rolls are often eaten during the Chinese New Year as they are a symbol of wealth and prosperity. When eating spring rolls its lucky to say “Hwung-Jin Wan-Lyang”, which translates to “a ton of gold”! Here’s hoping this Classic Vegetable Spring Roll recipe brings you a tonne of gold this year! Dumplings are also eaten for wealth, and fish for prosperity. Noodles are eaten for happiness and longevity. Glutinous rice cake is eaten for a higher income or higher position at work.
A vegetarian filling
Spring rolls are a classic dish that appear on Chinese restaurant menus around the UK and further afield. Sometimes the foods we enjoy on British menus are very far removed from the authentic dish. Often they have been adapted to take into account that the traditional ingredients were expensive and hard to come by. These days its easy to buy specialist ingredients in your local China Town, Oriental Supermarket or online.
The spring rolls we all know and love are actually pretty similar to the original. Spring rolls are eaten at Chinese New Year (or the “spring festival”) because they celebrate the new vegetables that come into season after the long, cold, winter months. You can include any vegetables you like but white cabbage is a common filling, as are carrots. Spring onions, red peppers and beansprouts also make a great filling! These fresh spring vegetables are flavoured with garlic, soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine and mirin. They are the perfect mix of slightly sweet and salty.
Scroll down for more of my favourite Chinese recipes.
How to roll spring rolls
To make these spring rolls the only “specialist” ingredient you need is spring roll wrappers. Spring roll wrappers are thin pastry sheets (usually square in shape) made from wheat flour, water, oil, and salt. The ingredients list is very similar to that of filo pastry which you can use as an alternative if spring roll wrappers are to hard to find.
Don’t get rice paper confused with spring roll wrappers. Rice paper is used for summer rolls which are served cold. They are also usually round instead of square.
There are two ways you can roll a spring roll. One is the envelope method where you keep one corner close to you, roll up from the bottom and tuck the sides in as you go. I find the filling can sometimes escape with this technique. The other option is to roll up from the bottom, still folding in the sides as you go. Why not try both techniques and let me know what you prefer in the comments below.
Vegetable Spring Rolls
For the filling
For the spring roll wrappers
- 1 pack spring roll wrappers 8" squares
- 1 tbsp corn flour mixed with 1 tbsp water to make a paste
To make the filling
- Place all of the thinly sliced (julienned) vegetables into a bowl along with the sesame oil, soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, mirin and minced garlic. Mix well and place to one side for 30 mins – 1 hour to absorb the flavour.
To make the spring rolls
- Place the wrapper on a flat surface and place two big spoonfuls of the mixture an inch or two above the bottom edge of the wrapper.
- Fold the bottom edge of the wrapper up and over the filling, tuck it in tightly and then fold in the two sides.
- Keeping the two sides folded in, roll tightly upwards until the filling is well wrapped.
- To seal the spring roll brush a little of the corn flour paste along the top edge and press down.
- Place the spring rolls on a tray with the seam down.
To cook (frying method)
- Place enough oil in a frying pan or wok so that its roughly 2 – 3 inches deep. Heat the oil slowly until it reaches 165 C / 325 F.
- Fry the spring rolls in small batches so that they are not crowded in the pan. Roll them over in the pan so that they cook evenly.
- Once they are golden brown and crisp remove them from the pan and drain them on kitchen roll.
To cook (oven method)
- Pre-heat your oven to 180 C / 356 F.
- Brush each spring roll with oil. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the spring rolls are crisp and golden.
- Serve while still hot with a dipping sauce of your choice.
More Chinese inspired recipes
The following recipes are all inspired by my travels to China and Hong Kong. There are dishes here to suit all diets.
Find out more about my trip to China
For more posts about my trips around the world check out my travel archive.