Thai spring rolls are deceptively easy to make. Once you have tried and succeeded you will wonder why you have taken so long to make them. Once shallow-fried, these spring rolls take on a golden hue and deliver a delightfully, crunchy outside not to mention the tasty morsels inside.
Before I started this recipe, I did wonder if this would work. I had visions of Thai spring rolls improperly wrapped inside the rice paper exploding everywhere when added to the hot oil.
But there was nothing to fear. Thai spring rolls are easy to wrap, they do not ooze out of the wrapper and they look pretty good.
But the proof of the pudding is in the eating and I am pleased to say not only were they perfectly crunchy but they tasted just as good as if you had gone to a Thai Restaurant.
Our recipe for Thai spring rolls contains ground pork but you can easily replace that with mushrooms if you want a vegetarian version and you will lose none of the flavor or texture contrasts with the dish.
The History of the Spring Roll
There is little doubt spring rolls originated in China. From there they spread throughout South East Asia and are particularly popular in Vietnam, perhaps more so than in Thailand.
Spring Rolls can be made to be eaten hot or cold. If being served hot, they will be deep-fried or shallow-fried like we are doing here, and served immediately. In China and Thailand it is usual for the spring roll to be served with a thick sauce like plum or hoisin sauce.
In Vietnam, they are served with lettuce and various herbs like Vietnamese mint and Asian basil. The spring roll and herbs are wrapped inside lettuce leaves then dipped in a thin dipping sauce containing maybe soy and red chilies. Yum!
However, cold spring rolls are just as good and even easier to make. You do need to pre-cook the filling and then just soak the rice paper for 20 seconds or so and wrap the filling inside. Job done, they are ready to serve.
There is no rice paper crunch with this method but the “fresh” spring roll is just that and there is no mucking around with oil.
Fresh spring rolls are easy to make and are great in summer as they can be prepared earlier and left in the refrigerator until you need them.
Thai Spring Rolls
As you can see in the picture below meat is treated the same as any other ingredient in Thai cooking. Color is important. Here we have orange, purple, yellow, white and the glass noodles are transparent.
The texture of the filling for Thai spring rolls is also important. As the vegetables are only lightly cooked they are still crunchy, which adds to the pleasure of this dish.
You can use spring roll wrappers, available from Chinese/Asian grocers, or rice paper, common in Vietnam and gluten-free.
It is very lightly spiced with only a dash of soy sauce in the filling, making it perfect for children. I really don’t know of a child that doesn’t like Thai spring rolls.
So for something a little different at home, why not try these? You will impress your family and friends; I can assure you.
And if you like the sound of your spring roll being wrapped in lettuce and some herbs then go right ahead. Iceberg lettuce, cilantro (coriander) and Vietnamese Mint are a great combination.
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