What I learned in high school


Spring rolls are ridiculously easy to make.  I almost feel like I’m cheating by making spring rolls for My Year of Dumplings, because they are not new to my repertoire. Having no knowledge of the lore behind Chinese dishes, I vaguely remember hearing that these are considered ‘good luck food’ because they resemble bars of gold.  Or maybe I just made that up. This version is my San Francisco original– initially I made these with ground beef and zucchini of all things.  Fact:  I learned to make these in my high school Asian Studies class from a filipino classmate.  I’ve been making them ever since. Thank goodness Menlo is still in business (see photo below).  


About Spring Rolls: no matter how many I make, they seem to disappear.  Por ejemplo, we recently hosted 20 of papa Kim’s choir ladies and I made 100 spring rolls, assuming leftovers for Stacy.  oops. sorry Stacy.

My Spring Rolls:

1 package Menlo Wrappers–There are 33 in a package. I finally counted.  The most laborious part of making Spring Rolls is separating the wrappers from each other.  Find them in the freezer of your friendly neighborhood Chinese grocery. They thaw quickly at room temperature.  Open the package and they are stuck together and you have to carefully peel these paper thin wrappers from each other. They’re not delicate but will tear if you are too impatient.  Yesterday I timed and it took me fifteen minutes to separate one package.  You can do this early in the day or even the day before; just wrap them in plastic to keep them from drying out.  Okay to stack them back up, they won’t stick much after you’ve separated them.








1.5 pounds ground meat, Ground beef is fine. I like to use half ground beef and half Ground pork

4 zucchini, shredded in the food processor. OR 1/2 head of Napa Cabbage, chopped finely in food processor

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, 1/2 teaspoon white or black pepper

Salt the shredded zucchini or chopped cabbage with 2 tsp salt and mix together.  Let sit a few minutes and then place the wilted veggies in a clean dish towel; wrap it up and squeeze out the water so the vegetables are on the dry side.  Mix vegetables, ground meat, ginger, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and pepper.  Feel free to add anything else you’d like, such as minced green onions. This filling can be modified any way you like; if you add other veggies then chop/shred and salt them as well.  The traditional recipe calls for a cooked shredded pork and cabbage filling.  I find the uncooked ground meat filling to be easier (translate: lazier) and drier so that it doesn’t leak through the uncooked wrapper and cause a mess.

To wrap:  follow the pictures below. I use about 2 tablespoons of filling, and seal the roll with beaten egg.














Heat vegetable oil in a wok and fry on medium-high heat, turning once, till golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.



These are great all by themselves, and even better served with dipping sauce (see last post) and Lipitor.  Even lazier, use purchased Thai sweet Chili sauce which is a great dipping sauce for spring rolls.  Remember to save some for Stacy.


2 thoughts on “What I learned in high school

  1. Norma

    And I can vouch that they are GOOD!! And I am also right that it is waaay easier to go to Emily’s house and eat the ones she makes than to make them yourself.

  2. sandy

    So much fun making these with you a LONG time ago! I still think about these springrolls when I see the menlo wrappers. Wish you lived closer!

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