So my big adventure this time was to make spring rolls. Piece of advice: don’t attempt this on your own. Do not even attempt this with a partner. If you don’t have an army of slaves (I like to call them “Worker Bees” in my video) then please just back away now. I recruited some family members who were experienced, and it still took all day long to make the full batch. With the help of my cousin Tanya, her husband Paul, son Lincoln, my Auntie Laurie and my mom, we were able to make 240 spring rolls. It took 7 hours to do the shopping, prep, cooking and then clean up, even with all of my volunteers helping me. My mom, Auntie Laurie and cousin Tanya did the majority of rolling the spring rolls while Paul was in charge of deep-frying them between two stations, and I filmed my sections and then continued rolling. Even my two-and-a-half-year-old cousin Lincoln had a hand in helping us, and was super excited to do so! Check it out below.
The disappointing thing about making a traditional dish is that sometimes you find posts that really aren’t helpful, like this one. It’s not to say that it was their fault or that they did it incorrectly, but it only provides a one-dimensional learning experience as it is simply a website with a recipe and directions. My preference is to find sites or blogs with pictures or a variety of videos to compare. However, I did find a great article from a blog called “Steamy Kitchen.” I liked this post because they show a step-by-step process through pictures. This is helpful, especially when you are learning a new technique. The whole reason all of the experienced cooks place emphasis on rolling it out tightly is that it will otherwise fall apart while being fried, which can be done in a pan with oil or a deep-fryer, like what we did. This learning through a series of pictures is what I would qualify as a two-dimensional learning process. The third level learning process comes from videos. It’s the live action with oral explanations and up-close visuals that mimic a classroom setting.
I learned the rolling technique from a video that Tanya gave to me. The lady begins to roll at about 8:25. She calls her recipe egg rolls, and we call it spring rolls. I am not sure exactly what the difference is, but I will find out and let you know when I make egg rolls (stay tuned – coming next week!).
Here is another video that has a great explanation of the rolling technique. I found this video to be more direct, as the video before it shows it bring done, but doesn’t really explain how to do it as well.
The video above of my process shows me learning how to do this as I go. It also helped that I had just made Fresh Spring Rolls, and the rolling technique was quite similar in nature. Please watch my video to understand my learning process. You’ll also meet my adorable little cousin who couldn’t wait to be my little Sous Chef. I do my best to teach him, and sorry, but my teaching experience is mostly with high school students, so I could have done better here! Regardless of my explanation that is geared towards an older age level (and don’t let his size fool you – he looks older, but he is just 2.5 years old!), he manages to do an exceptional job making his own spring roll. He even helps me make the dipping sauce to go along with these rolls (sorry but I forgot to take a picture).
So what did we actually do that took all day? We started our trip by going to the store and buying our supplies. Most of what we found was available at Extra Foods, but unfortunately (for them, not me) they were out of the spring roll pastry wraps. This meant that we had to find them in another store. Tanya took me to a cute little Filipino store. It really had a variety of Asian foods, but the majority came from the Philippines. I had a blast looking at all of the neat stuff there, and bought a few other things from there (check it out on my next post!).
Then we got down to business… and by that I mean it was prep time. You can’t really tell how big this bowl is, but trust me when I say it was as large as my whole upper body. We actually made about a batch and a half, as we had roughly 7.5 lbs of ground pork and the recipe called for 5 lbs of pork. We added in chopped garlic, white onions, green onions, grated fresh ginger, grated carrots (I used a large food processor and we used it right full twice!), some clear bean noodles and a few eggs to bind it all. The wraps we used were the same as the ones from Tanya’s video, except that we used a slightly smaller size. I think next time I would use the larger size and either make them bigger, or just have it wrapped over a few more times. Once it was cooked, the pastry was lighter than the meat, and as a consequence you can see the meat in dark spots of the cooked rolls.
Now about that rolling business. I’ve included a step-by-step process of my rolls for you to see and compare.
Step 1: Place the wrap like a diamond, facing you. Then place a spoonful of filling near the bottom of the diamond. The size of the spoonful will depend on the size of your wraps.
Step 2: Begin to roll the pastry by bringing up the bottom of the diamond, and “catching” all of the filling.
Step 3: Begin to roll the it ahead, remembering to do so tightly. Then bring one side in and tuck over, like this.
Step 4: Bring the other side over. It should look like a little card envelope. I noticed when these lines were more precise that the roll tended to turn out better.
Step 5: Now that both ends are tucked in tight, continue to roll forward. You will have to seal the tip. This can be done with a drop of water, egg wash, or a cornstarch mixture (see the video above for more information).
And here is the final products! Make sure to set them on paper towel to absorb the oil from frying. Cool them thoroughly before placing them in containers. These can be eaten immediately, and to be honest, you really can’t resist them after you have spent all day working on them! They can also be kept in the fridge for a few days and reheated, or put in the freezer for future use.
This is what I meant about seeing dark spots (a.k.a. the filling) through the wrap.
This is my cousin Tanya’s tried and true recipe. It works great! She said a regular batch should make about 150-190, so we made nearly 100 more with our batch and a half! I’ve also included her sauce recipe. It is very good too! The mistake I made was that I did not completely make sure the sugar was dissolved before adding the rest of the ingredients, so it was a bit sludgy and we had to stir it before use every time. Darn little cute cousins for distracting me! Haha!
We also added a spoonful of this chili paste to the dipping sauce for a more spicy flavour. It really packs a punch! It might fool you once you get used to it, but be forewarned that you should not lick the spoon clean before putting it in the dishwasher. Your eyes will burn Your mouth will be on fire. Ice will not be the cure. It sneaks up on you! (And no, I did not try this. I don’t know this from experience. What are you talking about?….)
Thanks a lot for checking out my blog and my videos! Keep coming back to check on my progress and see what else I’m learning to do in the kitchen East Asian style!
P.S. A big thank you to Paul, Tanya and Lincoln for hosting our cooking adventure. Also thanks to Paul, Tanya, Lincoln, Auntie Laurie and my Mom for helping me do all of this cooking!!