In my blogging journey, one of the hardest parts of the process is recipe testing and development. I find it challenging to go from idea to full-blown recipe, especially because I’m committed to sharing recipes that I’m really proud of and ready to put my stamp of approval on. Simply put, if it doesn’t measure up, it doesn’t get posted.
This means sometimes I get stuck because I can’t get it quite right. That was the case for a long time with my Thai Spring Rolls. You might remember a few months ago, I wrote about taking a cooking class in Thailand with Smart Cook Thai Cookery School, where I learned to make seven Thai recipes and walked away with a handy cookbook.
I’ve known for awhile that the next recipe that I wanted to share from the class was spring rolls, but I wanted to make some changes. First, as a vegetarian, fish and oyster sauce were out of the question, which meant I needed to find flavor substitutes. Second, the rolls are typically deep-fried in oil, which isn’t the healthiest (also the oil makes an enormous mess in the kitchen) so I wanted to test other options.
It took more iterations than expected. Replacing both fish and oyster sauce with soy sauce produced very salty rolls. Adding peanut butter inside or even as a dipping sauce overpowered the original flavors. And the baked rolls, while undoubtedly healthier, were too brittle to enjoy, breaking apart into shards with each bite. I finally settled on a mix of soy and hoisin sauce, eliminated any trace of peanut butter, and fried in oil because the baked ones just didn’t measure up (maybe something healthier next time?) The final product is easy to make, true to the original recipe, and makes you feel like you’re in a Thai restaurant, even when you’re at home!
A few simple ingredients tossed together, rolled in thin pastry, and deep fried – the magic of the spring roll. To start, you’ll want to prep all the ingredients first because the steps move quickly once you get going.
Once everything is prepped, start by cooking the garlic and tofu in hot sesame oil. Add the sauces, water, sugar, and then mix in the vegetables.
There’ll be a good amount of liquid at this point, but that’s ok. Keep the heat on high and let the extra liquid cook off, stirring often to avoid burning or noodles sticking to the pan. When the liquid has cooked down, you’re good to go!
This is a good time to start heating the frying oil because it can take some time to get hot enough. The oil is ready when it sizzles loudly it you drop some water in it.
Assemble your rolls – see the video below for instructions. (PS – I made a video!)
Fry the rolls carefully, try to avoid getting oil everywhere. This is the biggest challenge but a good set of tongs goes a long way. Keep a close eye on them to avoid burning.
Cool and enjoy with the dipping sauce of your choice! I used “Spring Roll Sauce” by Maesri – yes, it’s a lot of sugar but really the health status of this recipe went out the window when we went the deep fried route, amiright?
Thai Spring Rolls
40 minutes, makes approximately 8 rolls
Spring Roll Filling
- 4 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 60 grams tofu (~ 2 ounces), diced into 1/4″ cubes
- 4 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 60 grams rice vermicelli noodles (~ 2 ounces), cooked and cut into 2″ pieces
- 40 grams bean sprouts (1.40 ounces)
- 30 grams chives (or one 0.75 ounce package), cut into 1″ pieces
Thai Spring Rolls
- 1 recipe spring roll filling
- 1 egg, beaten (vegan option: unflavored soy milk)
- 8 spring roll pastry sheets
- 8 ounces canola oil, for frying*
*The amount of oil needed for frying depends on the size of your frying pan/frying equipment. You’ll need enough oil so that half the roll is submerged. I needed 8 ounces for a 6″ cast-iron skillet. Good news, you can reuse the oil! Strain the used oil with a fine sieve (I used a nut milk bag) and you can use it again.
- Medium or large wok or frying pan
- Small frying pan (for frying the assembled rolls – I used a 6″ cast-iron skillet)
- Pastry brush
- Prep the ingredients: cook the noodles according to directions on the package and chop the tofu, chives, and garlic. Measure out the portions of the other ingredients.
- Heat the sesame oil in a frying pan. Fry the garlic on high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the diced tofu and cook for another minute.
- Add water, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and sugar. Mix well until the sugar is dissolved and the sauces are well mixed. There will be a lot of liquid in the pan at this point, but that is normal.
- Add the noodles, bean sprouts, and chives. Maintain the high heat, stirring constantly. Watch closely to avoid burning. Cook for approximately 5 minutes or until liquid has cooked down. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Start heating the frying oil.
- READ CAREFULLY Wrap the spring rolls. Fill each pastry with one heaping tablespoon of spring roll mixture. Arrange the pastry wrapper like a diamond and place the mixture towards the bottom point. Wrap the bottom corner around the mixture and roll towards the center. Fold the left and right points into the middle, tightly around the mixture, and roll the bottom up one more time. Brush the beaten egg on the top corner and roll closed. Refer to the video in this post or photos on the pastry wrapper.
- Fry for about 1.5 minutes, or until golden brown, on each side. The amount of time needed depends on how hot the oil is, so watch carefully.
- Place on a plate covered in paper towels. Let cool slightly before serving. Serve immediately with Thai spring roll sauce.