Common appetizers found in many Asian restaurants are the spring roll and egg roll. If you're anything like me, you may not have realized that these were even two different dishes. Anyone who's ordered these delicacies knows they are perfect bites of hot, delicious, crunchy goodness. If you've only ordered them from Chinese food restaurants, you may not realize that both rolls have several regional varieties.
Some basic similarities are that they both have vegetable fillings, and are both served alongside a dipping sauce of some kind, including duck sauce, plum sauce, fish sauce, or hot mustard.
Spring Roll vs Egg Roll: What's the Difference?
Spring rolls were invented in China, when they rolled spring vegetables into a wrapper to celebrate the Spring Festival. They're now popular in many Asian countries, including Vietnam.
Spring rolls are crispy rolls filled with an assortment of vegetables and deep-fried. Fried spring roll wrappers are made from wheat flour, which gives them their crackly and flaky bite. They're less dense and lighter than an egg roll and typically filled with just vegetables.
Spring rolls don't have to be deep-fried like egg rolls. You'll typically find fried spring rolls at dim sum restaurants.
Many think that an egg roll is a traditional Chinese delicacy, but it's actually an American Chinese Cuisine staple. Rumor has it that Chinese restaurants in New York City wanted to please the American palate, so the egg roll was invented.
Egg rolls have a thicker wrapper due to using eggs and flour. Egg roll wrappers are crisp, with a chewy texture. Most require a heavier filling than just veggies. A traditional filling is made with ground pork and cabbage or bean sprouts. Once the egg rolls are stuffed and rolled, they are deep-fried for that delicious crispy texture.
Variations on the Spring Roll
Vietnamese spring rolls, called summer rolls, are not fried. They are made with a rice paper wrapper, and are filled with fresh vegetables, shrimp, herbs, and rice noodles. A popular sauce pairing with these fresh spring rolls is peanut sauce. The peanut sauce is a perfect compliment, made with hoisin sauce, spicy chili sauce, and peanut butter. It adds just enough spice, without overpowering the vegetables.
A surprising spring roll variation that isn't as well known are lumpia, which are popular in the Philippines. These are made with ground pork and served with a sweet and sour sauce.
In Taiwan, they spin the spring roll into something called popiah. These are not fried and resemble a burrito.
Try Making Both at Home
You no longer need to have the battle of spring rolls vs egg rolls. If you cook them yourself, you get the best of both worlds! While it may not be feasible to deep fry at home, that is certainly how to achieve the best texture. If you want to avoid deep frying, egg rolls and spring rolls can be made in the oven. You can easily get all the ingredients for both at your local grocery store.
For the egg rolls you'll need egg roll wrappers, coleslaw mix, soy sauce, and ground pork. You'll simply cook down the pork and veggies until nicely wilted. Fill each wrapper with the mixture, fold tightly, and seal shut with the egg. If you're deep frying, you will fry at 375 degrees until crispy. If baking, you'll follow the same steps, except for placing the rolls in the oven after sealing for about 20 minutes.
For the sauce, you'll need to mix together soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and chili paste. Combine, mix and serve!
To make a crispy style spring roll you'll need identical ingredients, except for the wrappers. You'll want spring roll specific wrappers made without egg. Deep-fry these to get the cracking first bite.
Find the recipe here.
No matter how you enjoy your spring roll or egg roll, you won't get bored. With so many regional options, enjoy eating your way through them all.