This dish was born this Lunar New Year when I was invited to my friend’s home to celebrate. I knew I wanted to make something to bring for the dinner, but I was unsure of what. I knew that certain foods are considered lucky to eat for the new year, so I wanted to make one of those. Furthermore, I knew that there were vegetarians and that there would be a mix of Northern and Southern Chinese people at the dinner. The theme of the dinner was that we were all going to be making dumplings using dough and filler from the hosts. So I chose to make spring/egg rolls; they are considered lucky to eat for the new year as they look like gold bars and thus symbolise wealth. Egg rolls are typically more common in Southern China, so I knew they would be popular with the dinner guests. The only issue: what filling would I make? I knew how to make this lovely mushroom and aubergine side dish that is typical in Northern Chinese culture. I figured it would do well as a filler in the roll, as the sauce is so thick that it should ooze out, but also not so watery that it would cause the fried roll to explode. Thus, my Chinese Fusion rolls were born. They were an absolute hit at the dinner and super easy to make. Furthermore, the filling is vegan and can be enjoyed as its own dish.
I used Omnivore Kitchen’s recipes to help me build and create this recipe. The links to the specific recipes can be found at the bottom.
Makes: 10 rolls
- 1 aubergine
- Enough mushrooms to make up about a 50/50 ratio with your aubergine (any mushrooms are good, I used a combination of Oyster, King Oyster, and Shitake)
- 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce (or coconut aminos)
- 2 tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 3 cloves Garlic
- About a thumb size piece of ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Sesame oil
- Spring Roll Pastry
- Air fryer (not mandatory, but that’s how we cooked them and it was really easy)
Making the Filling:
- Take spring roll wrappers out of the freezer to defrost.
- Slice the aubergine thinly and then chop into small strips.
- Put into a large bowl, then add a lot of salt and enough water to cover all the aubergine. Place a heavy plate/bowl/etc on top to keep aubergine submerged in the salt water. Leave for 15 min.
- Take mushrooms and slice into small strips.
- Make the sauce. In a bowl, mix together the soy sauces, coriander, garlic, ginger, peppers, honey, and add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and 1 teaspoon cornflour. Put to the side.
- After 15 minutes, drain the aubergine from the water and pat dry with a towel.
- Coat aubergine and mushrooms in cornstarch, then pan fry them in sesame oil until they turn a medium brown colour. Make sure to not put them all in at once. Place just enough that there is a flat layer on the bottom of the pan and then cook till finished and place to the side. Then repeat until they’re all cooked.
- Take the sauce mixture and pour into a pan on medium heat. Cook until it begins to have an almost syrupy texture. Pour the aubergine-mushroom mixture in and toss until completely coated. Take off heat and allow for cooling down.
Wrapping the roll:
- Once the filling has cooled, take the defrosted Spring roll wrappers and place them in front of you like a diamond.
- Put filling at the bottom centre, and then fold the bottom up and over. If you so choose, sprinkle in chopped chives at this point.**
- Roll up until just past the mid-point.
- Fold right and left points in.
- Roll up to the top. Secure with dabbing a small amount of water onto the end of the wrapper.
- Repeat until all the filling is finished.
- Pre-heat air-fryer to 200C.
- Start by taking a cooking brush and brushing some sesame or vegetable oil all over the spring rolls.
- Place spring rolls in an air-fryer as one flat layer and cook on one side for 5 minutes (or until brown) and then flip and repeat.
- Wait to cool down! Then it’s time to devour. The sauce coating the inside should ooze out so you don’t need more. However, if you want it, just remix the sauce ingredients and heat.
One friend told me that in her region, they eat foods in the spring roll wrappers but they don’t fry them or cook them at all. So feel free to try them like that as well.
Chives are not pictured in this recipe as there was an allergy at this event.
Image Credit: Joshua Hoehne via Upsplash (header), Emerson Shams (pictures within article)