Chicken and vegetable spring rolls

  • Preparation Time55 mins
  • Cooking Time5 mins
  • Serves6
  • DifficultyMedium

For the filling

1 tbsp groundnut oil
1 (200g) skinless chicken breast, cut into pea-sized pieces
4 dried Chinese mushrooms or dried shitake mushrooms or dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water for 20 minutes, drained and finely chopped
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp five-spice powder
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
90g bean sprouts
2 large spring onions, finely sliced lengthwise
1 small carrot, julienned
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
Sea salt and freshly cracked white pepper

For the spring rolls

12 large or 24 small spring roll wrappers, thawed (if frozen)
1 tbsp cornflour, blended with 1 tbsp hot water
Groundnut oil, for frying
Notes: The Chinese name for spring roll is 'chun-juen', which is a literal translation - 'spring roll', but there is no evidence to suggest that this is a dish served only during springtime. Although this dish is served more in Western restaurants than in China, I wanted to include it here as it makes a delicious and wonderful starter. In Shanghai's neighbouring province of Zhejiang they serve sweet spring rolls filled with red bean paste - similar to northern China. Spring roll wrappers have to be one of the best inventions. If you are watching your weight, don't deep fry the roll, instead eat them "raw" and uncooked - just as tasty!

1) For the filling: heat a wok over high heat, and pour in the groundnut oil. Add the chicken pieces, and reconstituted mushrooms, and stir-fry for one to two minutes, then season with the soy sauce and five-spice powder. Remove the contents from the wok, and set them aside to cool for ten minutes. Clean the wok.

2) Add the ginger, bean sprouts, spring onions, and carrot to a bowl. Then, add the chicken and mushrooms, the oyster, and soy sauces and stir to mix. Season with sea salt, and black pepper, to taste.

3) For the spring rolls: take two spring roll wrappers and lay one on top of the other. (Cook's Note: The extra thickness will prevent the skin from breaking.) Spoon two tablespoons of the filling in the center of the wrapper. Brush each corner with the blended cornstarch slurry. Bring the two opposite side corners of the wrapper together and, keeping your finger on those edges, bring the bottom corner up towards the middle, then roll the pastry with the filling towards the top corner. Tuck the top edge in, and seal it with the cornstarch slurry. Repeat until the remaining ingredients are used up. Place the spring rolls in the refrigerator to chill until ready to fry.



3) Heat a wok or heavy-bottomed pan over a high heat, and fill it to a quarter of its depth with enough groundnut oil. Cook's Note: Ensure your wok is stable before deep-frying. Heat the oil to 180°C, or until a cube of bread dropped in it turns golden brown in 15 seconds.

4) Deep fry the spring rolls until golden brown, turning frequently, and then transfer them, using a slotted spoon, to drain on an absorbent kitchen towel.

Cook's Note: for a vegetarian option, substitute the chicken with mushrooms, and use a vegetarian oyster sauce. This recipe would also be great with duck. Check to see if your spring roll wrappers can be eaten raw; there is a brand available which is made from coconut oil and salt.

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