Culture Cooking: Spring Rolls

Throughout the year the Museum & Theatre celebrates holidays and traditions, like the Lunar New Year, by partnering with community members from the cultural tradition celebrated. Individual stories and memories shape the content of the programs. We recognize that the more we know about ourselves and each other the more we grow together as a community. This year the Lunar New Year fell on February 5th. Neighbors from China, Korea, Vietnam and from other Asian countries celebrated in their own unique way; however, one thing will be the same–everyone will have delicious food!

Today special culture kitchen guest, Stalla Austin, taught me and a group of Museum & Theatre visitors how to make a traditional Chinese spring roll in honor of the Chinese New Year. Stella is an experienced cook who grew up celebrating the Chinese New Year, which is traditionally filled with family, red lanterns, traditions of good luck and of course food! These spring rolls are the most delicious spring roll ever.

The cooking adventure begins gathering flavorful ingredients you may or may not have in your house. Note: the flour wrappers will be found in the freezer aisle and the five spice bean curd tofu will be found in the refrigerator aisle. Stella’s recipe measures by weight, below I include the approximate measurements by volume that we used when cooking. Take the…

  • 1 package of flour wrappers 

out of the freezer an hour before making, or place in warm water to thaw quickly. To ready the remaining spring roll fillings, bring a large pot of water to boil and blanch… 

  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • 3 cup mung bean sprouts
  • 2 cups of Enoki mushrooms (with ends trimmed off)

After about 3 minutes remove the vegetables, which should still be firm. Run under cold water and then drain thoroughly (pat with towel if needed).  Now slice…

  • 1 package of five spice tofus

Stand slices of tofu up on their long narrow end and make three slices, then stack the slices on top of each other and slice thinly, making long thin strips of tofu that resemble the size of the julienned scallions and Enoki mushrooms. Now gather…

  • 3 scallions julienned
  • ½ cup cilantro chopped (we just tore the leaves from the stems, chatting about plant parts as we did so)

Congratulations! You have all the ingredients ready for assembly time. Set up a plate for everyone participating (the more the merrier!). Place a flour wrapper on each plate with one corner facing away from and one corner facing toward the person wrapping (like a diamond). Then in the middle place a handful of blanched vegetables topped with tofu strips, scallions and cilantro. Then fold the wrapper on a diagonal by picking up the corner closet to you and pulling it over the filling to reach the opposite corner. Using strong hands, scootch the filling under the top wrapper to the side of the wrapper closest to you, fold in outside corners and seal the wrap shut by dipping your finger in a cup of water and running it along the edge of the top corner. This last step is very important, it’s the lucky one! Heat…

  • 3 Tablespoons oil 

in a pan on the stove and fry. Stella said that fried spring rolls are common on Chinese New Years, because their golden color is a symbol of good wealth for the coming year. Flip on both sides until rolls reach a pretty golden-brown. Then mix up your dipping sauce with…

  • 1 cup sesame paste (tahini)
  • 2 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 3 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoon sugar

We hope you enjoy this Chinese tradition and it brings you joy in the New Year of the Pig!

Special culture kitchen guest, Stalla Austin, chops ingredients