I was busy rolling spring rolls in the kitchen when my son Cory walked in, wide-eyed and curious. I was eager for company and invited him to join me. Since spring rolls are his favorite, he enthusiastically agreed. Before beginning though, he asked me if the filling was raw and if he would need to wash his hands afterwards. I thought this was a pretty insightful question for a 6 year old, or maybe just a sign that I’ve gone a bit overboard with hand washing in my house. After all, I am known as “Salmonella Sally” among select friends and family.
I demonstrated how to properly fill and roll a spring roll, with the point of the square facing downwards. I showed him how to fold each side inwards over the filling, a tight roll upwards and a moistening of the edges with water to seal. Although not perfect, his first go at it was pretty impressive for his little hands. He set his down proudly upon the plate where my finished spring rolls waited and began another. He even insisted upon removing his spring roll skins from the pile, which takes a good amount of patience since they tear easily.
As he and I filled and rolled together, his messy ones became my favorites. The imperfections wouldn’t change the way they tasted but were sure to provide me with pleasure remembering his satisfaction making this two bite food. My daughter wandered in at just the right time for a taste of Cory’s hot-out-of the oven spring rolls dipped in sweet and tangy duck sauce. She asked if she could join us and together, we finished our task efficiently.
Cooking with my children brings me back to times I spent in my childhood kitchen with my own Mom and Dad, where most of my fondest memories come from. As life ticks on, the good things in life repeat with each generation.
I hope you enjoy my recipe, which will be featured in the December issue of NJ Family.
Chicken Spring Rolls
Who doesn’t like a crispy spring roll? They are usually the first to go at a cocktail party. This version is rolled in spring roll wrappers, so they are even crispier and lighter than egg rolls. Make a few batches for the freezer and reheat a delicious homemade appetizer in no time.
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cups onions, finely diced
1 pound ground chicken
½ teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
1 cup chopped green cabbage
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 packages Spring Roll Wrappers (found at Asian Markets)*
In a medium sized skillet, heat canola oil. Sauté the ginger, garlic and onion for about one minute. Add the ground chicken and cook, breaking apart the chicken as you stir. When the chicken is mostly cooked through and no longer pink, add the salt, soy sauce, cabbage and corn starch. Cook for another few minutes until the flavors have combined well. Remove from heat and cool mixture.
To fill wrappers, place the wrappers point side down and place about 1 tablespoon of filling on the bottom third of the wrapper. Bring the bottom point up and fold each side in and roll tightly upwards. Moisten the wrapper slightly at the edge to seal. To freeze, lay on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and place in the freezer uncovered for an hour or so until hardened. Transfer to a freezer bag and seal out excess air.
To cook the spring rolls freezer to oven, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and brush each spring roll lightly with olive oil. Bake until golden and crispy for about 20 — 3o minutes flipping once. You can also lightly fry the spring rolls. Heat 1/8 of an inch of vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet until the oil just begins to bubble. Cook spring rolls in batches for a few minutes on each side until crispy. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately. Serve with duck sauce.
*You can also use eggroll wrappers but you’ll need to cut the wrappers vertically in half to make smaller sized eggrolls.