Crunchy Spring Rolls with Tofu & Shiitake Mushrooms

13
6

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Wait, Mouse, did we hear you right? Did you say “tofu”? As in, no pork?

Yep. Tofu. You heard me right.

While the venerable pig is one of my favorite beasts to cook, I followed the recipe I had, and made these spring rolls with tofu. And I have to admit: They were damned good.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse


(That said, I think they’d be equally amazing if you swapped in slivers of succulent roast pork along with or instead of the tofu.)

Like pad thai, this is another one of those recipes that’s all prep and almost no cooking. It’s also the third and final piece of our Readers’ Choice series, put on in part with the fabulous Cookstr.com.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

This recipe comes from Deborah Madison, a chef, cookbook author, teacher, and community activist with deep roots in the sustainable and local food movement.

Madison is also the author of This Can’t Be Tofu!: 75 Recipes to Cook Something You Never Thought You Would—and Love Every Bite. No lie, it’s the only book about tofu that I own. I bought it years ago when I had a bunch of vegetarian friends and I had no idea how to feed them, and it’s just great.

If you’re a huge carnivore like me, this is the tofu cookbook for you. Trust me.

So, what do the spring rolls taste like?

Call it kitchen magic.

These spring rolls are fried, but are remarkably fresh and (dare I say it) even kind of healthy tasting.

The shell has a nice snap and crunch to it and isn’t at all oily. The inside is packed with fresh napa cabbage, pungent scallion, and tender bits of tofu. The filling stays crisp because the spring rolls are only in hot oil for a minute or sojust long enough to brown the wrapper.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

They get a deep, earthy flavor from two kinds of mushrooms (dried Shiitakes and fresh, chopped criminis). Cilantro, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and ground Szechuan pepper tie the whole bundle together with a ridiculous amount of lively, bright flavor.

All in all, they’re utterly delicious.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

So what the heck is Napa cabbage, anyway?

Napa cabbage looks like romaine lettuce on steroids.

Definitely don’t substitute a regular cabbage for the Napa cabbage. The Napa head is much more delicate in flavor and texture. The frilly leaves are thin, crisp, and mild. Honestly? I think it tastes like Cabbage Lettuce, if there were such a thing.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Depending on where you shop, Napa cabbage can also be called hakusai, celery cabbage, wong bok, or Peking cabbage. Choose firm, tight heads and store them in the fridge, tightly wrapped. They’ll only last a few days.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Napa cabbage is good cooked or raw, so it’s the perfect way to get a little extra vitamin A, folic acid, and potassium into your salads and stir fries.

Ingredient notes for spring rolls

You’ll also need a small handful of dried shiitake mushrooms. They’re expensive, but you only need a few. These days, most supermarkets carry them, hanging in some corner of the produce section. They’re sometimes labeled Chinese black mushrooms.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

For this recipe, you’ll reconstitute the mushrooms in a little boiling water. The thing to note about shiitakes is that the stem is so tough that it’s basically inedible. Once they’re soft, you’ll want to nip off any stems you see and only chop up the cap.

For the tofu, grab a package of extra firm tofu.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

For the largely uninitiated (like me), tofu comes in a bunch of different textures, ranging from soft (good for blending into soups), to silken (which has more of a custard-y texture), to firm and extra firm (for when you want the tofu to hold its shape).

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Extra-firm tofu, cut into small dice

This recipe also calls for Szechuan peppercorns. These little guys aren’t actually peppercorns at all. In fact, they come from the prickly ash tree.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

They have a mild heat and a wonderful, warm spicy taste that’s just a wee bit lemon-y. If you can’t find them in your market (we found ours in with the pepper grinders at Whole Foods), Penzey’s sells them online.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Ground Szechuan Pepper

And last but not least, you’ll need a package of egg roll wrappers. These thin, square sheets of fresh pasta are usually in the produce section of the supermarket. If you’re lucky enough to have a good Asian market near you, you can find them there, too.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Fifteen is an awful lot of spring rolls

Unless, of course, you’re having a basketball team over for dinner.

Luckily, these spring rolls freeze beautifully. Arrange extra, uncooked spring rolls in a single layer in zip-top freezer bag. Pop them in the freezer.

To cook them, thaw overnight in the fridge, then fry away!

OK! To the kitchen!

Spring Rolls with Tofu and Shiitake Mushrooms

5 cups napa cabbage, sliced (1 small napa cabbage should be more than enough)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
5 dried shiitake mushrooms
14 oz. extra-firm tofu
4 cups water
2 tsp. roasted peanut oil (I used toasted sesame instead)
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, brown, white, or shiitake, chopped (I used crimini)
1 Tbls. minced garlic
2 heaping Tbls. minced ginger
2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. ground Szechuan peppercorns
1 Tbls. soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus cilantro sprigs for garnish
15 egg roll wrappers
2 cups peanut oil, for frying (I used canola)

Makes about 15 spring rolls

Prep the Napa cabbage

Grab your cabbage and whack it in half lengthwise with a big, sharp knife.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Cut each piece in half again.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Leave the stem on. It will hold the cabbage together and make it easier to slice.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Cut the cabbage into thin slices across the leaves.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Stop an inch or two from the end. The cabbage down there will be a little thicker.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

You want your pieces to be about this wide:

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

When you have 5 cups sliced, toss the cabbage into a colander. Sprinkle with salt and leave it in the sink. (This is to get some of the excess moisture out of the cabbage so it stays crunchier when cooked.)

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Prep the dried Shiitake mushrooms

Put the dried shiitake mushrooms in a small bowl. Cover with just enough boiling water so that they’re submerged.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Let them sit on the counter for about 15 minutes, until they plump up and get soft.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Fish them out of the water and squeeze the water out of them.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

If any of your mushrooms still have their stem, cut it off (it’s too hard and woody to eat).

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Slice the rehydrated mushrooms into matchsticks.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Prep the tofu

Grab your tofu. Drain all the liquid out of the package and pat it dry. Dice it into small cubes, like this. (That’s one on the end of my 10-inch butcher’s knife.)

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

You’ll wind up with a big pile of cubed tofu.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a large saute pan or wok. Toss the tofu into the water and cook for 2 minutes.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Fish them out of the water with a skimmer or slotted spoon. Drain them well.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Then toss them into a large bowl or plate lined with paper towels. (You want to remove excess moisture to help keep your filling crisp, not soggy.)

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Finish the spring roll filling

Coarsely chop the fresh mushrooms and the scallions.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Heat 2 teaspoons of roasted peanut or toasted sesame oil in a large nonstick pan or wok over high heat. Add the shiitakes, chopped fresh mushrooms, and scallions. Saute for about a minute over high heat.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Transfer the mixture into a large bowl, along with the tofu.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Squeeze the cabbage to release excess moisture. Toss it into the bowl.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Toss in the remaining ingredients (garlic, ginger, rice wine vinegar, Szechuan pepper, soy sauce, cilantro).

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Mix to combine well. Give it a taste and adjust the seasoning as you see fit. (Add a little salt, pepper, more garlic, etc.)

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

And you’re ready to assemble the spring rolls!

How to roll spring rolls

This is like rolling a burrito or swaddling a baby in a blanket.

Fill a shallow bowl with a little cold water. Then carefully peel off one egg roll wrapper from the stack of pasta. (Be gentle, they can rip.)

Put it on the counter facing you, like this:

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Use your finger to brush each edge of the wrapper with cold water. (This will help it stick shut.)

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Heap about 3 tablespoons of filling in the center.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Fold the bottom point up.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Gently tuck the filling in like this.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Fold one point over to the center.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Then fold the other point over.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Roll it into a bundle (tuck the filling in as you go).

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

And, voila!

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Set your spring roll aside and repeat until you’ve used up your filling. (Chopped cabbage is an imprecise thing to measure, so you may wind up with a little more or less filling than you need for 15 spring rolls.)

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

I wound up with 16 spring rolls. (17, if you count the one that I totally mauled because I wasn’t paying attention.)

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Fry the spring rolls

Heat 2 cups of oil in a wok or large, deep-sided saute pan over high heat. Madison’s recipe calls for peanut oil. Peanut oil has wonderful flavor, but I didn’t have any. I used canola instead and it worked out just fine.

When the oil is so hot that it shimmers, test it.

Carefully (carefully!!) dip one corner of a spring roll into the oil. If rapid bubbles form immediately, it’s hot enough to fry. (If not, heat the oil for another minute or two, then test again.)

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

When the oil is hot, carefully add the spring rolls to the pan. (Because I wasn’t feeding a basketball team, I fried four, and froze the rest.)

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

They’ll cook really fast, so don’t walk away from the pan. Everything inside is basically ready to eat, so frying is really only to crisp up the egg roll wrapper.

When they’re brown and bubbly on the bottom, flip them over with tongs.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Cook them for maybe 45 seconds (depending on how hot your oil is) on that side, until the bottoms have a matching brown and bubbly jacket.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Remove them to a paper-towel or brown-bag lined plate.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Slice in half and serve immediately.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

These are great plain or dipped into hot mustard. You can also whisk together a quick dipping sauce with a little soy, sesame oil, and a squirt of Sriracha.

Spring Rolls at The Hungry Mouse

Enjoy!

SHARE
Previous articleFifty Movies for Foodies (Plus My Top Five Favs)
Next articleApple Pie in a Glass
Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

13 COMMENTS

  1. this is dangerous because spring rolls are one of my weaknesses! I love this recipe! The fact that it’s a bit healthier thanks to the tofu I definitely have to make this soon!

  2. I’ve never tried tofu, but this recipe just might get me to! I have to admit that I am obsessed with food blogs, and I have never found another site that comes close to doing what you always do sooo well – the step by step instructions and photos. You know, you could be charging for this. (But I’m sure glad you don’t.) Every recipe of yours that I’ve tried has turned out great. Thanks!

  3. That looks delicious. I have spring roll (not fried ) up my sleeve for my next post but had a hard time getting a good picture of it. So when I saw ur post I thought Id drop by to have a lookie. It looks great and what detail uve put in. Wonderful! :)) tq for sharing.

  4. I’m super impresse by the quantity and quality of images. I really like a how to with lots of images. Its usually a lot better than videos and heaps more useful than a one page recipee. Thanks for taking the time to publish these images. Some of them are beautiful

LEAVE A REPLY