What better way to kick off springtime than eating spring rolls?
As you know — spring rolls originated in China (and Southern Asia) before expanding all across the globe.
Similar to the dumpling, each culture twisted the original recipe to produce its version. Traditionally, the dough is made from flour, water, and salt. And then it’s filled with a mix of vegetables, and sometimes meat or shrimp.
Obviously, by stuffing it with vegetables, makes it suitable for vegans. Yet in some cases, the wrapper contains liquid whole egg to help preserve the structure of the spring roll.
From a traditional standpoint, a spring roll is considered vegan… but that might change depending on the restaurant, as well as the variety of frozen spring rolls you buy.
So, are spring rolls vegan? It depends on how the dough is made, and on the filling. For the most part, spring rolls are vegan, but you should never buy spring rolls without checking the label or asking the restaurant waiter a few questions.
Traditional Spring Rolls.
Traditionally made spring rolls are made with flour, water, and salt.
In mainland China, they were conceived as seasonal food consumed throughout the Spring Festival, to welcome the new season’s vegetables. Spring rolls typically contain cabbage, carrot, green beans and several other vegetables wrapped in a cylindrical pastry with a very thin layer. Due to that thinness, spring rolls are extremely crispy when deep-fried.
While I’d love it to be a 100% vegan dish, spring rolls containing meat varieties are also quite popular.
In any case, if you visit China, and eat in a traditional Chinese restaurant, the spring rolls should be vegan, as long as you ask for vegetable filling.
Egg Rolls Are Confused With Spring Rolls.
When researching about spring rolls, I came across egg rolls as well.
Apparently, there are similarities between both, but they are different. Egg rolls don’t contain eggs in the filling, but the wrapper may contain eggs. This similar recipe is tied to American Chinese cuisine, but its real origin is unknown.
The difference between an egg roll and a spring roll lies in its size and layer.
While an egg roll measures approximately two inches in diameter by six inches in length and has a rather thick outer layer. The spring roll has a very thin layer and is considerably smaller, which is why it’s often served as a side dish.
Frozen Vegan Spring Rolls.
Akin to freshly-made spring roll recipes, there are also many frozen spring roll recipes.
Unfortunately, I’ve found way more non-vegan recipes than vegan recipes revolving around flavors like chicken, shrimp, and pork. In fact, I’ve checked the most predominant supermarket chains in the United States to give you a shortlist of vegan spring rolls:
- Chung’s Spring Rolls (Kroger)
- Wei-Chuan Vegetable Spring Rolls (Kroger)
- Lucky Foods Vegetarian Frozen Spring Rolls (Target)
- Lucky Foods Thai Frozen Spring Rolls (Target)
- Imperial Gourmet Vegetable Mini Spring Rolls (Walmart)
- Tai Pei Mini Vegetable Spring Rolls (Walmart)
There are probably more in your nearest supermarket, but these were all I could find online.
Make Vegan Spring Rolls Yourself.
Another way you can guarantee fully vegan spring rolls is by doing them yourself. There are dozens of recipes across the web, and all of them give you easy, step-by-step instructions to make vegan spring rolls.
In fact, some even teach you how to create the typical thin, crusty wrapper but you don’t need to go through that work. Many supermarkets often sell pre-made wrappers, some of which are very delicious. So all you’re left with is the filling.
Here are some noteworthy vegan wrappers.
Blue Dragon Spring Roll Wrappers.
Ingredients: Rice Flour, Tapioca Flour, Water, Salt
Available at: Whole Foods.
Vietnamese Spring Roll Wrappers.
Ingredients: Rice, Cassava, Water, Salt
Available at: Whole Foods.
Twin Dragon Egg Roll Wrappers
Ingredients: Enriched Wheat Flour, Water, Salt, Potato Starch, Citric Acid, Dusted with Cornstarch.
Available at: Walmart
The final steps involve creating and wrapping the filling.
Even if you have no cooking skills, you can easily create a filling my mixing different vegetables on a wok and add your favorite seasonings. Naturally, there’s an order to things, but there’s not much science behind it.
To help you get started, I’ve gathered a couple of recipes that might be useful for you.
Vegan Spring Roll Recipes.
The following recipes will make your life much easier.
They’re very simple, and you don’t need to spend $10 on bland spring rolls when you could have a more delicious, homemade recipe done in 20-30 minutes. (As long as you got pre-made wrappers!)
At first glance, it may look like raw vegetables wrapped in lettuce leaves. However, there’s a thin layer made from 22cm rice paper wrappers on top of the cabbage.
These spring rolls are delicious — especially when served with peanut sauce.
This recipe appears to be similar to the previous one, yet it’s different. This is a Vietnamese spring roll recipe where marinated tofu and vegetables are combined into rolled rice paper. The peanut sauce, although the flavor is similar — it’s more viscous.
This recipe probably takes longer than the previous ones, because you’ll be baking the spring rolls. However, it’s still quite easy to make, and it only takes 20 minutes of preparation.
This time around use regular spring roll wrappers (6″ x 6″) and create a filling with cabbage, carrots, and shitake mushrooms. Naturally, you have to ramp up the flavors by adding fresh ginger and garlic, as well as soy and hoisin sauce to the mix.
Once it’s done, you can simply bake them for 25 minutes or until they’re golden around the edges. If not, you can also freeze the spring rolls to eat later. This recipe takes a bit longer but it’s truly delicious.
I would recommend you check it out!
Always search for spring roll wrappers that don’t contain egg, and use plant-based ingredients to make the filling. When you’re in a restaurant or a street shop, always ask the cook if there are any animal-based ingredients in the wrappers (or filling)… and if so, ask if they can serve you a plant-based version.
At the end of the day, it’s all about being well-informed and knowing the different ingredients you should avoid. You should also make an effort to help the restaurant cater to you, by communicating what kind of ingredients you want in your dish.
The spring rolls you eat will only be vegan as long as you keep your eyes on the ingredient labels, and as long as you have no issues with asking the restaurants exactly what you want.