Where land meets the sea, this protein pairing is quite common in a large proportion of Asian cuisines. In this recipe, they are treated separately but wrapped together in a thin wheat-based pastry with added textural elements to create the perfect parcel.
Growing up, spring rolls were always a treat in our household but a lengthy process and a lot of effort to prepare. This was a task Mum and I would share, with me separating the many sheets of pastry while she mixed the ingredients and hand rolled each roll. On some days, we would make up to 300 spring rolls between us.
For wonton and spring roll fillings, I’ve found the preparation of the prawns can add another layer of complexity to its texture. The tail end have a bit more bite to them, more of a pop, andfor that reason I usually separate the tail thirds from the main body and treat them independently during the preparation process. After blending the remaining two-thirds into a rich and creamy paste, the tails are then cut into small bite size pieces and folded into the final mixture, adding a slight chew to its consistency.
Allowing patience to mix the ingredients well is a critical step, as it further breaks down the pork protein and homogeneously spreads the fat; leaving you with a mixture that is bound and bouncy rather than soft and crumbly, like that of ground pork meatballs. To achieve this texture and save time in the process I recommend using a stand mixer.
My preferred method of consumption was dipping them in a healthy serving of nước mắm chấm (Vietnamese fish sauce based dipping sauce) - and consumed by the dozen of course! The recipe below is a basic traditional recipe of pork mince, Australian prawns, sliced wood ear mushrooms and thin mung bean noodles.
Spring roll mixture
25g rice vermicelli glass noodles (thin mung bean noodles)
10g dried wood ear mushrooms (optional)
400g pork mince
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon chicken powder
1/2 teaspoon anchovy salt (optional)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 medium carrot, grated
1 packet of large spring roll pastry
1 egg yolk
450g king/tiger prawn cutlets, chopped into 5mm pieces
300ml-400ml neutral cooking oil (grapeseed oil recommended)
Preparing the spring rolls
Rehydrate wood ear mushrooms in warm water for 20 mins then strain, rinse well and slice finely.
Rehydrate rice vermicelli glass noodles in cold water for 20 mins then strain well and chop into 3-5cm strands.
Add all spring roll mixture ingredients into a mixing bowl or stand mixer, and mix with hands or on medium speed respectively until well combined.
Separate tail third of prawns from main body. In a food processor, blend into a paste-like texture. Add the prawn paste to the mixing bowl containing the other ingredients and mix until well incorporated. Gently fold through the prawn tail pieces.
Cut square spring roll pastry diagonally in half to form two triangles. Place approximately 1 and a half teaspoons of the mixture at the base of each triangle (longest side). Fold the pastry over the mixture, then using your fingertips and applying a firm pressure, roll forward to form thin cigar-sized scrolls. Use a touch of egg yolk to seal the spring roll when you get to the end. Continue with remaining ingredients.
Store in an airtight container and place in freezer for 2 hours before frying. For best results, freeze overnight.
Cooking the spring rolls
Deep fry for 5-6 mins until golden in grapeseed oil at 180°C or air fry at the same temperature for 15 mins, then flip/agitate and cook for a further 10 mins. NB: If using an air fryer lightly coat spring rolls with oil spray.
Serve with Vietnamese fish sauce dipping sauce (nước mắm chấm) or sweet chilli sauce.
Additional serving option: Wrap in lettuce cups with Vietnamese herbs, and serve with Vietnamese fish sauce dipping sauce (nước mắm chấm).