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Recipe: spring rolls

out with the old, in with the new
What? You thought I was talking about politics? *snicker* My friends know where to find what I really think :) No, I am talking about our new car, which replaces the 14-year old loyal car which served us well but can’t make it up our driveway in 4 inches of snow without chains. The old car is going into a milder climate retirement in New Mexico under the loving care of Jeremy’s brother. Now that we have two Subarus, we can’t refer to them both as Subie (what every Subaru owner calls their car). So the Outback XT will remain Subie.

meet roo

we do make sure that the dog accessorizes nicely with our cars…

While I normally prefer to buy a car a few years used, the substantial discount I get at Subaru through GSA (Geological Society of America) combined with the outstanding service team at Flatirons Subaru in Boulder pointed us to a new car purchase. Talk about serious brand loyalty here.

I am equally excited about another recent purchase – something I will use almost as much as Roo. A new stock pot! I waited five years for the old low-end stock pot to die (it was a gift), because we live in such a throw-away society. Something breaks? Don’t bother fixing it, just throw it away! That attitude makes me insane. I have slowly been replacing old pieces of lesser cookware with quality pieces that will last the rest of my life (I hope!).


This pot was $100 off at Marshalls because one rivet was not perfect. Not a problem for me because I don’t plan to wear it down the runway or anything… Additional bonus: the lid fits my All Clad deep sauté pan which didn’t come with a lid (part of a fryer set)! Score.

I’m finally running and biking and rowing again and it feels fantastic. I was hoping to get back to this level of activity after chemo ended in May, but there were all sorts of side-effects that seemed to catch up and smack me in the back of the head. Then there was the evasive leaky appendix (thank you for waiting to try to kill me until after I was done backpacking in California), radiation fatigue, tendonitis, and lymphedema… Now, it seems that things are finally coming under control. It’s not perfect, and I’m afraid it never will be again, but still – it feels good and I’ll make the most of it.

ready to make spring rolls?

sauce to add to the veggies

When I was in college, I worked part-time at NASA JPL with a young and bright group of software engineers. One of my co-workers lived in my apartment complex and I’d drop by to visit from time to time. One time Jeremy and I borrowed camping gear and Steve was in the middle of frying egg rolls. I had never made egg rolls before and since Steve wasn’t what I consider a cook, I was surprised to see him cooking at all! I was always one to shy away from deep frying because we just didn’t do much of that at home, but I thought to myself, “Well, if Steve can fry egg rolls…”

sauté the cabbage, sprouts, and onions

garlic, ginger, carrots, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots

I actually prefer spring rolls to egg rolls. What is the difference? I can’t actually tell you authoritatively. I just know that I have always considered the egg roll: contains meat, is wrapped in a thicker skin, and is larger. I make spring rolls with vegetables and store-bought spring roll wrappers which are practically see-through. To me, summer rolls are the unfried cousins wrapped in rice paper… like the delicious nuggets of goodness that Diane and Todd treated us to when we visited them this summer. Did I mention that I love those two and their pups? LOVE THEM.

adding sauce

ready to roll

Even though we never ate spring rolls or egg rolls at home, when I asked my mom how to make them years ago, she rattled off several ingredients. Can I add x, y, and z? Sure, you can add x, but nobody adds y, and z… well, you could… but I wouldn’t. As I’m sure most of you who try to glean recipes from older relatives already know, it’s a very fuzzy process of hand waving and lack of measurements. Oy! These days I am no longer frustrated so much as entertained, amused, and even affectionate about asking my parents or grandma for recipes. To be honest, asking my dad for recipes is an exercise in hilarity.

wrap it like a present: nice and tidy

a little egg wash on the edges to seal the deal

The nice thing about spring rolls is that you can put whatever you like in them, despite the fact that most folks (well, my mom and myself) have certain ideas about what does and doesn’t go in one. I like my spring rolls to be crunchy with sprouts and cabbage. I shred my carrots fine so they add sweetness, but don’t commandeer the flavor. I will put Chinese mushrooms in almost anything because I love them so much. It’s really whatever you want it to be as long as my mom isn’t hovering over your shoulder.

waiting for the hot oil spa treatment

nice and tan

It has been a while since I’ve made spring rolls. I forgot how much brightness the ginger lends to the flavor. With the “sauce” of the filling, neither Jeremy nor I thought the spring rolls needed a dipping sauce. I personally loathe that day-glo orange sweet and sour sauce you get with most spring rolls in Chinese take-out joints. If you want a sauce, I suppose a daub of hoisin sauce wouldn’t be too bad.

crispy, crunchy and delicious

Spring Rolls
[print recipe]

oil for deep frying and sautéing
2 cups scallions, julienned
4 cups napa cabbage, shredded
3 cups bean sprouts
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsps rice wine or dry sherry
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 cup bamboo shoots, julienned
10 Chinese black mushrooms, rehydrated and julienned
2 large carrots, shredded
6 tbsps soy sauce
2 tbsps water
2 tsps sesame oil
3 tsps cornstarch
25 spring roll wrappers
1 egg, beaten

Mix the soy sauce, water, sesame oil, and cornstarch together in a cup. Set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Sauté scallions, bean sprouts, and cabbage with salt and rice wine (or sherry) until cabbage is softened. Remove from heat. Drain off excess liquid and set aside. Heat the garlic and ginger in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in the same frying pan. When fragrant, sauté the mushrooms, carrots, and bamboo shoots. Add the cooked cabbage and sprouts. Pour in the soy sauce mixture and combine the ingredients until well-coated. Remove from heat. When mixture is cool, place 2-3 tablespoons of filling near one corner of the spring roll wrapper and roll/wrap on the diagonal, folding the sides in tidily. Rub a little bit of egg mixture on the final corner to seal the spring roll wrapper. Fry in oil at 350°F for a few minutes or until golden. Remove from oil and let rest on a cooling rack (not paper towels). Serve hot.

43 nibbles at “rollin’”

  1. Chuck says:

    Congrats on Roo and the new stock pot! I had a Subaru WRX wagon that I sold last year. I bought it for trips to Tahoe but after 3 years and ONLY 5,000 miles, it made sense to get rid of it. I put more miles on my rode bike than I did the car (Scoobie). The spring rolls look delicious!

  2. jennywenny says:

    Shiny car! And matching dog! And I’m glad you’re feeling less bad and able to get a bit more active. Good stuff.

  3. April in CT says:

    Why am I scared to make spring rolls? I really need to get over it because those look sooooo tasty. I can just imagine biting into that light, crispy wrapper!

    LOVE your new ride!

  4. Kelley says:

    Nice ride! I’m waiting for my old pots and pans to die so I can invest in some All-Clad as well. These spring rolls look like a fun project for the weekend. Thanks!

  5. Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary says:

    I have an Outback and I love, love, love it! It’s great here in RI and we get lots of snow too.

    Your spring rolls look fantastic and you have great taste (Todd & Diane). They are 2 of my most favorite people on the planet.

    I’m drooling over the stock pot. *grumble*

  6. Rosa says:

    A nice car! Those Spring Rolls look delicious! I love the pretty color of the filling…



  7. Erin says:

    These look fabulous! I’ve never made Spring Rolls, but I’d really love to try these.

  8. Mollie says:

    My husband loves you for this recipe… now I just have to find time to make them!

  9. cindy says:

    i found your site through smitten kitchen awhile ago and have been continuously impressed by your knife work (and the photography that allows me to view your knife work). you make everything “pretty” as my mom encourages me to do. unfortunately, i dont really have the patience for it. springs rolls for our household were always restaurant food. but your way looks not so daunting.

    and it’s true, i love chinese mushrooms in anything and everything, most especially hot and sour soup. and the bamboo-wrapped-sticky-rice-pyramid-like-packets that i dont know the proper english name for. so hopefully you know what i’m talking about :)

  10. Lori says:

    Congrats. We were this close to buying a Subaru but went with a Prius instead. If there was a hybrid Subaru at that time, I think we would be driving a Subaru instead.

  11. Sarah says:

    I prefer spring rolls, mainly for their lack of meat. :) Yours look amazing! Enjoy the season prep…you’ve been making me excited for our visit out to Colorado in January!

  12. Mary Coleman says:

    Great food. Great car. Great dog. Love it!!

  13. Mrs Ergül says:

    opps, I make my spring rolls with minced chicken but I would definitely omit them should I have guests who are vegetarians. And I don’t saute the vegetables, I just wrap them up. Though I love making spring rolls, I’m never able to fry them right. The first one out of the oil looks perfect (like yours), but the rest just keeps looking darker. Maybe using a deep fryer will help? Argh, frustrating!!

    That’s a lovely Subaru! Kaweah should take no time to get accustomed to it :)

  14. Asianmommy says:

    These spring rolls look so delicious!

  15. Margie says:

    I’m intimidated at all the work, dicing, slicing and assembling, but I may just get over it! ;) Thanks for the ‘walk thru’. Love your car, too…and of course, I LOVE that doggie. :)

  16. Tony says:

    is it bad that I was more excited about the stock pot than the car? haha, both are great purchases! And you can totally sport that pot down the runway, rivet defect and everything – call it edgy and everyone will want imperfect rivets.

  17. Jillian says:

    The spring roll wrappers. Are these the ones that can be found in the round plastic container? I have trouble finding the “skin” I want for texture. If you have a link as to the brand you use and a photo, that would be super wonderful! Thank you!

    (Go Obama!)

  18. Manggy says:

    Late to the party! :) I thought for a second there you had baked the spring rolls. Half of me was intrigued by the health aspect and half was screaming “blasphemy!!!” Ha ha ha :) Of course, there is nothing wrong with frying them either– my weakness, in fact. Here in the Philippines, vegetable spring rolls are usually served with spiced vinegar but I don’t like things too sour. I like a little sweetness (“Typical”–The World), so sweet chili sauce is my weapon of choice. Of course, if you and Jeremy think this needs no sauce, who am I to argue? ;)

    Aw, I love Diane and Todd too! (Since you started it, making it my personal mission to make them blush till their ears ring– not that that’s possible, lol)

  19. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy says:

    Congrats on the new wheels. Looks sharp! Love the new pot too. I’ve been doing the same thing – slowly replacing my old “average” stuff with All Clad. I absolutely love it!

    Those are some fab looking spring rolls too! Their “hot oil spa treatment” really paid off! ;)

    I’m so glad to hear that you’re getting back to the activities you enjoy. That must feel so good! You’ve come a very long way in the past year.

  20. sweetbird says:

    Love the Subaru, I’m all about brand loyalty as well. I am equally envious of your stock pot steal – and appreciative of your disgust for the throw-away consumer society that seems to have developed. Perhaps the next couple generations will see the light…

  21. sophia says:

    yum, the spring rolls look mouth watering. eventhough i just had breakfast.

  22. Maja says:

    I adore the spring rolls, but i don’t think i’ll be replicating them anytime soon :((, i can’t buy spring roll wrappers nor rice flour to at least make the wrappers, nor can i get my hand on those black mushrooms … maybe if i go to my favourite chinese restaurant and ask politely, they will be willing to part with some of the ingredients … Well, it never hurts to ask, bakeries have sold or gave me flour in the middle of the night when i just had to bake and everything was close. :) Enjoy your new Roo, nice to see Winnie the Pooh’s friend is all grown up and ready to accomodate Kaweah in it’s pouch … wait, what, male kangaroos don’t have pouches? Oh well … :) I am glad to hear you’re running and rowing and i hope your health improves completely!

  23. Aran says:

    when i read flatirons on the license plate i was so jealous… i miss colorado so much… and hey, you got some deals there. $110 off the all clad pot? nice! the photos are jumping out of my screen. beauties!

  24. Nicisme says:

    Nice looking spring rolls, a favourite of mine.
    The car is a beauty but it’s that fabulous pot that catches my eye, All Clad is great kitchenware.

  25. Sonya says:

    I adore spring roll…and yours look so nice for me…Thanks

    Have nice week-end on the road lloll

  26. Carol says:


    delicious looking spring rolls…yummmm…i am defintely going to try out your recipe this weekend!!
    …and just as delicious looking *new* car….congrats and many, many years of safe and happy driving!!

    all clad….sigh….dreamy profesional cookware……smart to buy discount at marshalls…one of my go-to-places for deeply discounted cookware….

    love your blog….love all that you share…..

  27. alst says:

    hot ride…
    I bought my `03 subie at flatirons 5 years ago! I love my Ru…105,000 miles later and still kickin’ it!
    I will try those spring rolls this weekend!
    happy snow!

  28. Cynthia says:

    Chilli Padi, Hokkien, for dang good spring roll sauce. I, personally, need heat with almost any ethnic food.

    I inherited my Grandma’s pots and pans that will never die, ever. Have fun everyone with the All Clad.

  29. Lisa Yu says:

    Those rolls are beautifully done. You also can freeze them and reheat them in the oven for later use, they taste just as crunchy as they are now. It’s great for parties.

  30. Graeme says:

    Oh my, Jen! That is an awesome car!
    Some Police forces over here use Impreza WRXs as their road unit cars. Those, or the Mitsubishi Evo.

  31. Nate says:

    Those spring rolls look awesome.

    Don’t bother asking old folks for recipe measurements. Ingredient lists are also suspect. They use what they have on hand and they put as much as they like without going overboard. Does it taste good? ’nuff said!

  32. jenyu says:

    Chuck – Scoobie? That is a *great* name :) That’s actually the name of our vacuum cleaner ;)

    Jennywenny – thanks!

    April – thank you :)

    Kelley – you’re very welcome.

    Lisa – Outbacks rock!

    Rosa – they’re so nice and crunchy too.

    Erin – they’re not too bad to make, really.

    Mollie – better hurry!!

    Cindy – oh, you mean the tsong-tse? I love those too. I call them Chinese tamales, but there must be a better name…

    Lori – If we lived in Boulder, our second car would have been a Prius, but it won’t do so well up here in the mountains. I would *love* it if Subaru made hybrids.

    Sarah – :)

    Mary – thanks!

    Mrs. E – I never tried going without sauteeing the veggies. I guess they must cook when they fry, right? Perhaps your oil temperature is too high? I use a thermometer to gauge.

    Asianmommy – thank you!

    Margie – thanks. The spring rolls are not too hard as long as you have the patience to cut the veggies up.

    Tony – you’re so cute :)

    Jillian – Hmmm, I just buy a packet (square) at the Asian grocery store in the freezer section They should be about 8×8 inches and the words on the front say Spring Roll Wrappers. That’s the best I can do since I chucked the wrapper – sorry!

    Mark – Oh, I love spiced vinegar, but didn’t think to do that. I would definitely dip if we had some of Diane’s Viet dipping sauce. I love hers!

    Susan – you’re such a sweetheart – thank you. It does feel good to get back to “normal” :)

    Sweetbird – perhaps… let’s hope!

    Sophia – ha ha!

    Maja – Ohhh, that sucks :( I do hope you can get your hands on some of the ingredients. Thanks!

    Aran – You need to kidnap Helen (Tartelette) and come visit us in Colorado!

    Nicisme – I love their pots too – so reliable and Good!

    Sonya – thanks!

    Carol – thank you :)

    Alst – yay, Rooo!!!!

    Cynthia – I like spicy, but it’s not something I crave with spring rolls per se.

    Mom – thanks for the tip! Love you.

    Graeme – oooooooh!!! hee hee.

    Nate – so true!

  33. Marie says:

    I found your site some time ago, but didn’t really take a close look until last night.

    Lime and raspberry petit fours?

    Has anyone ever told you how wonderful you are?

  34. jenyu says:

    Marie – thanks, that’s sweet of you :)

  35. White On Rice Couple says:

    WOWZERS!!!!!!! OMG! This post is just crazy awesome!

    first, friggin awesome new car! Wow, subaru’s are fantastic. When we finally get our asses out in that area one day, we always talk about getting one. Your black beauty is just gorgeous and we want one!! Oh, and of course, the other black beauty too, KAWEAH!!

    second, I HEART, HEART marshalls! What a steal on that pot!
    third, you made friggin springrolls……yum……we heart all kinds of springrolls.!

  36. jenyu says:

    WoRC – yes, come out and take a spin in our new ride. then you can take Kaweah for a walk. I’d say she’d be eternally in love with you after the walk, but I have a feeling she’ll love you the moment she sniffs the pups on you!

  37. Thomas says:

    My family is in the restaurant business and when they make egg rolls or spring rolls, they let the filling dry (usually overnight) so that when the rolls are made and fried, there are no juices that run around and splatter. It also makes for a crispier roll since the skin doesn’t become soggy from the juices.

  38. jenyu says:

    Thomas – thanks for the tip. I generally don’t want to wait a day for the filling to dry, but it might be useful to someone else?

  39. mimi says:

    do these springrolls freeze well?

  40. jenyu says:

    Mimi – yes, they do (my mom tried it). Just freeze them after frying and then bake them until hot before serving.

  41. Lisa K says:

    I think I’ve just found my new favourite site. I used to work in an area with a large Asian (mostly Chinese) population and was always eager to eat authentic food in the local restaurants. Such luxuries don’t exist where I am now so I have been playing with different recipes but keep coming across “western twists” on Asian cuisine. So glad I found your blog!

  42. Lana says:

    My girls and I made your spring rolls today to celebrate the Lunar New Year, and they were wonderful. I’ve had them before in the restaurants, but this was the first time I tried to make them at home. Thank you so much for your detailed instructions and gorgeous photos:)
    We are traditionally Christian (Baptist on husband’s side and Orthodox on mine), but we do not practice. Educating our children is another thing, and what better way to do that then through food:)
    Happy New Year of the Rabbit!

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