Chicken and Vegetable Spring Rolls

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Update (2/19/15): I had previously listed ground chicken as the main protein in the spring rolls. I love it for convenience sake but have found that it creates a filling that is too wet and therefore, more likely to tear the spring roll wrappers. Hence, I’ve replaced it with diced chicken breast. Also, there will be times when you can’t find fresh bean sprouts (like I discovered earlier in the week), just substitute them with another bag of the coleslaw mix, which apparently now comes in a 14-ounce bag instead of a 1-pound bag.

Of all the dishes I made for our Chinese New Year Eve dinner, Keith and I agreed that the spring rolls were our favorite. I had baked them that night, and although the spring rolls were neither crispy nor pretty (the wrappers tore and the filling was falling out), they were still so delicious! So here I was, determined to make it properly this time for our Chap Goh Meh (the 15th and last night of CNY) dinner. :D

In case you’re wondering what went wrong with the spring rolls that night, the cause was excess liquid! The wrappers are so thin that it is extremely important to drain your filling well. Now, I know this fact, but for some reason, I felt compelled not to drain the filling AT ALL that time…duh! In my defense, I was trying not to be wasteful (isn’t that a good thing?) and maybe a little bit of me was hoping that somehow, the spring rolls would still turn out great despite that. LOL Alright, I admit that I lost my mind temporarily that day! CNY prep can do that to you, ya know? :D

Anyway, for tonight’s dinner, I decided to fry the spring rolls instead of baking them. In my opinion, both fried and baked are equally delicious (they have the same filling) and they are both crispy. However, my baked spring rolls have an iffy track record. Sometimes, they turn out great but at other times, the wrappers tear, spilling the filling out onto the baking pan. So for now, I’ll fry the spring rolls but I will continue to experiment with the baking method and when I get it right, I’ll post an update here. :D Note that this is my own recipe, which has been simplified a little over the years to reduce prep time but still as delicious! Enjoy!

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch green onions, white and green part separated and trimmed; white part cut into ¼” dice and green part cut into 1¼” to 1½” lengths*
1¼ to 1½ pounds chicken breast, diced into ¼” pieces (just approximate)
1 pound green cabbage/carrots coleslaw mix (1 bag)
14 ounces bean sprouts
2 teaspoons salt or to taste
1 teaspoon white pepper or to taste
22 to 24 store-bought spring roll wrappers
1 tablespoon corn starch
3 tablespoons water
Extra vegetable oil for frying 

* Note that the recipe calls for a bunch of green onions, which typically consists of about 6 to 8 stalks tied together with a rubber band. And just to clarify, I consider the light green part to be the same as the white part.

FOR THE FILLING: Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and the white part of the green onions, and cook until fragrant and the garlic is lightly browned. Add the chicken, increase heat to medium-high, and stir-fry the chicken until fully cooked, breaking up the clumps as needed. Stir in the coleslaw mix, bean sprouts, green part of the green onions, salt, and pepper. Cook until veggies are softened, taste, and adjust for seasoning. Transfer to a colander, minus the excess liquid, and let cool (discard the extra liquid that drains from the colander as well). If making the filling a day or two in advance, store filling in a covered container in the fridge.

Cook garlic and white part of green onions until fragrant
Cook garlic and white part of green onions until fragrant
Add chicken and stir-fry until chicken is fully cooked
Add chicken and stir-fry until chicken is fully cooked
Add coleslaw mix,
Add coleslaw mix,
bean sprouts, green part of the green onions, salt, and white pepper
bean sprouts, green part of the green onions, salt, and white pepper
Cook until veggies are softened
Cook until veggies are softened
Delicious filling
Delicious filling

TO WRAP THE SPRING ROLLS: Place a sheet of spring roll wrapper diagonally on a flat surface (so it’ll look like a diamond instead of a square); keep the rest of the wrappers covered with a damp paper or kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out. Spoon ⅓ cup filling onto the middle of the lower half of the wrapper. Fold the bottom side of the wrapper over the filling and roll it tight two times. Then fold the right and left sides of the wrapper over the filling, and dap the triangular top end with the corn starch mixture. Continue to roll the spring roll tightly until the end (the corn starch mixture should help seal the spring roll). Repeat until all the filling is used up. Easy-peasy…okay, not really but it gets easier with practice, trust me. Also, remember to keep the finished spring rolls covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap to keep them from drying out before frying.

My favorite spring roll wrappers
My favorite spring roll wrappers
About 10 inch square, but you can use smaller wrappers
About 10 inch square, but you can use smaller wrappers
Place wrapper on a flat surface
Place wrapper on a flat surface
Spoon filling onto the middle of the lower half of the wrapper
Spoon filling onto the middle of the lower half of the wrapper
Fold bottom of the wrapper over the filling
Fold bottom of the wrapper over the filling
Roll tightly two times
Roll tightly two times
Then fold the sides in
Then fold the sides in
If the side sticks out,
If the side sticks out,
just fold it back
just fold it back
Dab the top end with the corn starch mixture
Dab the top end with the corn starch mixture
Continue to roll the spring roll until the end
Continue to roll the spring roll until the end
Ready for frying
Ready for frying

TO FRY THE SPRING ROLLS: Heat about one inch oil in a Dutch oven or a large frying pan to 350°F. Gently drop the spring rolls into the oil (avoid frying too many at a time). Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning the rolls over as needed. Remove spring rolls to a plate lined with paper towels. Serve as is or with your favorite chili sauce.

Fry until golden brown
Fry until golden brown
Our favorite chili sauces
Our favorite chili sauces
Crispy spring rolls - serve as is or with your favorite chili sauce
Crispy spring rolls – serve as is or with your favorite chili sauce
Yummy filling!
Yummy filling!

I am submitting this post to Chinese New Year Delights 2013 hosted by Sonia aka Nasi Lemak Lover.

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8 Replies to “Chicken and Vegetable Spring Rolls”

  1. Looks delicious. I don’t think I’d have the patience to make them, though. Maybe one day I’ll get all the ingredients together and try them.
    Mom 2

    1. Thanks, Mom! I generally make the filling in advance so that on the actual day, all I have to do is make the spring rolls, and fry them. :D

  2. This is yummy… I come across your blog via Roti n Rice.. You have a nice blog and now I am one of your followers :)

    1. Hi! Really nice to meet you and thank you for your support! :D

  3. Hi Chris, have you ever made fresh popiahs with the same spring roll pastry you have on this post? I have used exactly the same pastry you have here. I cooked the meat filling and added fresh raw ingredients like cucumber, fresh mint, fresh coriander, lettuce leaves and crispy fried onions before wrapping them with the spring roll pastry. No frying or baking necessary. I have never baked spring rolls before. I might try the method one day. Love your last pic. Yummy, indeed! :-)

    1. When I was growing up, two different kinds of popiahs (the fresh and fried) are always served during CNY Eve dinner…and I’ve always only reached for the fried, lol (I truly have a weakness for fried foods). For some reason, I never warm up to the fresh popiah back then, which is why I don’t make them now either. Although now that you have me thinking about them…hmmm…maybe I’ll make them one of these days. :D

  4. rebeccalee586 says: Reply

    In Pg our golden poppiah are crispy. At first I was mad why mine were not crispy, so when I bought some home, checked and ate slowly and I knew why mine were not crispy and in fact soggy after sometimes, so disgracing. The secret is, Don’t be greedy ! Don’t put too much filling and MUST roll tight. Then deep fry 2 times. Some people rub a bit of tapioca or corn flour onto the skin then deep fry. I have not try it.

    1. Thank you for the tip! :)

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