200 gmuncooked prawns, thinly sliced150 gmpork shoulder, sliced into thin strips1 tbspsoy sauce, plus extra to serve40 mlvegetable oil, plus extra for deep-frying40 gmbean sprouts, trimmed½small carrot, cut into julienne50 gmwhite cabbage, shredded3spring onions, white part cut into julienne, green part thinly sliced and reserved separately, to serve½ bunchgarlic chives, cut into 2cm batonsTo taste:freshly ground white pepper16spring roll wrappersFor sealing:eggwash
Place prawn and pork in separate bowls, add half the soy sauce to each bowl, season to taste, stir to combine and set aside to marinate (30 minutes).
Heat half the oil in a large frying pan or wok over high heat, add bean sprouts and stir-fry until just wilted (30 seconds). Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper. Heat remaining oil over high heat, add carrot and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add cabbage, white part of spring onions and chives, stir to combine, transfer to a large sieve and drain well. Cool to room temperature, add prawn mixture and pork mixture, season to taste with white pepper and mix well to combine.
Place a spring roll wrapper on a work surface with a corner at the top (cover remaining wrappers with a damp tea towel). Spoon 1½ tbsp of prawn mixture across centre. Brush edges with eggwash, fold bottom of wrapper over filling, fold in sides, then roll to enclose. Repeat with remaining spring roll wrappers and filling, cover with a damp tea towel and refrigerate until required.
Heat oil in a large saucepan to 180C. Deep-fry spring rolls in batches, turning occasionally, until golden and cooked through (3-4 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit) and drain on absorbent paper. Serve hot scattered with spring onion greens, with extra soy sauce.
Note This recipe is adapted from Eileen Yin-Fei
Lo's classic recipe. The filling is a drier mixture than you might
expect, because a wetter version would explode and leak from the
If there's any more universally recognised Chinese dish than
spring rolls, you'd be hard-pressed to find it. These slender,
golden cylinders of deep-fried goodness are ubiquitous from
Shanghai to Sydney, from Chinese restaurants to supermarket
freezers, and seemingly everywhere in between.
As the name denotes, they mark the beginning of spring, heralded
by Chinese Lunar New Year. A fortnight of celebration traditionally
takes place around this time, at which the spring roll takes centre
Spring rolls are a symbolic food, closely resembling a gold bar in
both shape and colour, and they're considered a harbinger of good
fortune. In their earliest incarnation, spring rolls date back to
the Eastern Jin dynasty (AD 316-AD 420), when people would enjoy
"spring plate" - a dish consisting of very thin cakes made with
flour and water, surrounded by green vegetables, which was thought
to ward off disaster and evil. During the Tang dynasty, "spring
cakes" were eaten to celebrate the sowing of the new corn crop in
early February. Over the ensuing centuries, the dish evolved into
the spring rolls we know today, stuffed with all manner of
Furthermore, the third and fourth written characters of the
Chinese name for spring rolls - chun juan - literally mean "spring
roll". This, according to Alan Davidson's comprehensive Oxford
Companion to Food, is because "the original filling was of lightly
cooked spring vegetables, wrapped in a skin that was then quickly
deep-fried so that the crisp textures of wrapper and filling
contrasted with and complemented each other."
The "skin" Davidson refers to is a very thin round of pastry or
pancake, which can be made from scratch but is also readily
available from Asian grocers. The fillings are many and varied, not
only from region to region, but also from chef to chef. Of course,
each region and each chef claims theirs as the best. It's worth
noting that several other Asian cuisines have their own version of
spring rolls, from Indonesia's lumpia to the fresh rice
paper-wrapped Vietnamese variety. And Davidson is absolutely
correct when he remarks on the importance of texture: the freshness
of the vegetables and the crispness of the pastry are key. So get
rolling and cooking, and eat them as hot as you dare for maximum
crunch and flavour.