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.
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.
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.