A goal we always have at the restaurants is to have a full and varied menu for everyone, including vegetarians and vegans. I never want anyone to feel deprived. For that reason, we have vegan sushi plus tons of fun and unusual vegetarian small plates and entrees. Fried Spring Rolls with Orange Dipping Sauce are one such offering, and have been a catering fave for years. They are beloved by vegans and carnivores alike. Each crispy bite has noodles, tofu, and yummy veggies, and the tangy sauce is to die for!
If you’ve never made spring rolls at home, you may be surprised by how manageable and fun it is. Both the filling and the sauce can be made ahead of time. And once fried, Crispy Spring Rolls can be frozen and reheated, so you have a quick appetizer ready to go.
Let’s Get Cooking!
These Crispy Spring Rolls are beloved for their filling as much as for their crunch. I usually don’t order vegetable spring rolls when I go out because I refuse to be disappointed by the sad filling. I like cabbage just as much as the next person, but I can do without it being the only ingredient. Rather than just the 90% cabbage that other veggie spring rolls are stuffed with, these have shiitakes, pre-fried tofu cutlets, crunchy carrots, scallions and red onion for a little bite, a handful of cilantro for some herby goodness, and mung bean NOODLES! You know how I love noodles…
But a good fried spring roll also needs a flavorful sidekick. And this orange mustard sauce brings it. It’s punchy, piquant, and potent. Plus, it can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for several days. Best of all, it’s made with simple pantry ingredients.
Prepare the Filling
The cabbage takes a little bit more prep. Just like we did with the napa cabbage in the Real Deal Kimchi recipe, it gets salted to season, soften, and help remove excess moisture.
Once all the ingredients are prepped, it’s a simple step to combine them in a large bowl and season with the sesame oil and Chinese 5 Spice powder. Make sure to thoroughly mix the filling (the cabbage is like a big clump that needs to be de-tangled) so each bite has a little bit of everything.
Wrap the Spring Rolls
This is a fun and easy process. So feel free to get kids involved! To start, make the egg wash. I only use the egg white to keep the seal on the roll from being visible, but feel free to use a whole egg instead. Or if you want these to be vegan, you can make a slurry with cornstarch and water to seal the spring rolls instead. Carefully separate the spring roll wrappers and lay one on the counter, with the corner pointing towards you. I like to peel apart the whole stack before starting so I can get an uninterrupted production line going!
Keep in mind that most of the time, the wrappers will be purchased frozen, so be sure to leave them in the fridge to defrost overnight or put them out on the kitchen counter for a couple hours while you get the other ingredients prepped. They must be completely defrosted or you will rip them.
Next add a couple tablespoons of the filling. Don’t be too eager to overstuff them because the filling will break through the skin. Now fold the corner over the filling and roll it over once. Then fold in the sides. (Just like rolling a burrito!) Finally, brush the top portion GENEROUSLY with the wash, and finish rolling it all the way up. Lay it seam side down on a tray or plate and get cracking on the rest!
Fry Them Up!
If you avoid frying because you think it’s too messy and complicated, give it a try with these. One of the mistakes I see people make when they deep fry at home is using gallons of oil. You only need two inches for these, just enough that they float and don’t stick to the bottom of the pot!
Alternatively, I’ve had good results air-frying them. A lavish spray of oil on both sides, plus 15 minutes in a 375 degree oven does the trick. And finally, you can also pan sear them with a couple tablespoons of oil on medium heat. Cook them for a couple minutes on each side until the skins are golden brown and the filling hot.
Each cooking method will result in slightly different textures, but they are all equally good in my opinion. Plus, if you have problems with your spring rolls splitting a little (don’t be too generous with the filling!), these two cooking methods are a good way to save your hard work, as you will not be able to deep fry broken spring rolls.
My Fried Spring Rolls have been a restaurant favorite for years, and I know you’re going to love recreating them at home! Leave a comment and rate the recipe below, tag us in your insta pics @funkyasiankitchen, and show us the goods!
- 1 ounce mung bean noodles (1 bundle)
- 1 (6 1/2 ounce) package fried tofu cutlet (or 6 ounces extra firm tofu pressed between paper towels to drain as much water as possible)
- half a small red onion
- ½ head small green cabbage (about 1 pound)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated (about 1 cup)
- 4 oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and roughly chopped into big pieces
- 2 tablespoons cilantro chopped
- ¼ teaspoon ground black or white pepper
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
- 3 scallions chopped
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 package 8 inch wheat spring roll wrappers (about 25 pieces)
- an egg white plus 1 tablespoon water (or use 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons water for vegans)*
- Oil for deep frying
Orange Dipping Sauce:
- 6 oz orange juice
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard (any flavorful mustard is fine)
- 3 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sambal oelek chile sauce
For the Sauce:
- Combine the orange juice, sugar, and cornstarch in a small saucepan.
- Use a whisk and mix thoroughly until sugar and cornstarch are dissolved.
- Set the pan over medium high heat and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly.
- Once it simmers and the sauce thickens, cook it for 30 more seconds and then take it off of the heat.
- Add the dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, and sambal olek. Whisk to combine. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
Prepare the Filling:
- Open the package of tofu. Rinse it and then cut horizontally so you have two thin pieces. Then cut in half on the long side and then slice across it so you have short, thin strips. Set aside.
- Peel and then slice the onion thinly and set aside.
- Core the cabbage. Cut the cabbage in half so you have two wedges and then slice across the cabbage thinly. You should have about 4 cups. Put the cabbage in a bowl and add the 2 teaspoons sea salt. Toss and let sit for 15 mins, tossing a couple of times. Squeeze out and drain off as much liquid as possible and add to a large bowl.
- Pour boiling water over noodles, and let sit for 3-4 mins. Drain, chop into 2 inch pieces, and add them along with the tofu, red onion, carrots, mushrooms, cilantro, scallions, salt, ground pepper, five spice powder, and sesame oil into the cabbage bowl. Toss all of the ingredients well.
- Make sure you de-tangle the ball of pressed cabbage and really get all of the filling well mixed so each spring roll will have an even combination of filling.
Wrap the Spring Rolls:
- Combine the egg white with the water in a small bowl. Use a fork to lightly whip it together.
- Peel the spring roll wrappers apart gently. (They have a tendency to stick together).
- Place one wrapper on the counter so the corner is pointing towards you. Add 2-3 tablespoons of filling towards the bottom and then fold the corner over the filling and roll. Fold in the side corners neatly and then brush the top generously with the egg wash and finish rolling.
- Place the finished spring roll on a plastic wrap lined tray or plate, seam side down. Continue rolling the spring rolls until you finish all of the filling.
Fry the Rolls:
- Heat a deep skillet with 2 inches of oil over medium heat for 5 minutes to bring the oil to the right temperature. (If you are using a thermometer, the oil should register 350 degrees.)
- Dip one spring roll into the oil to test the heat. It should immediately start to bubble around the spring roll. If not, continue heating the oil for several more minutes.
- Add 5-6 spring rolls, making sure there is enough room around each roll. Fry for 2 minutes and then flip the spring rolls and cook for another 1-2 minutes. They should be a nice golden brown color.
- Drain on a paper towel lined plate and continue frying the rest of the spring rolls. (you can put the spring rolls in the oven at 200 degrees to keep warm if you are frying a whole bunch of them)
- Serve the spring rolls on a large plate with the sauce on the side.
*I’ve also oven-fried these spring rolls with great success. This method is especially handy if you have some spring rolls that are broken or have split a little. Put a piece of parchment or aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Lay the spring rolls out on the parchment and then spray the tops of the spring rolls with some oil. Flip them over and spray the other side with some oil as well. Bake (I used the air-fry function on my toaster oven) for 15 minutes at 375.
* If you don’t plan on serving all of the spring rolls at once, you can freeze them for another day. Once the spring rolls are fried, cool the spring rolls to room temperature, and then freeze them in a storage bag. Reheat them straight from the freezer in a 325 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.
*If using the cornstarch slurry to seal the spring roll, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of warm water to 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Mix with a fork until completely dissolved. The cornstarch should thicken up a little and look like glue. Use it instead of the egg wash as directed above.
Keywords: spring rolls, vegetarian, vegan, noodles