Sunday, 14 September 2014

Skinny Spring Rolls

Crispy and delicious vegetable spring rolls for a fraction of the calories they'd be if you bought them, and simple to make too...

Easily doubled for a crowd, and not at all difficult to make - my children helped me rolling these up! Feel free to play around with the fillings and flavours - I've put some suggestions at the bottom of this post - whether you add cooked prawns or chicken with sweet and sour, or maybe some duck and hoisin sauce, there are all kinds of different flavours you could add!


And if you want something to dip them in, you can make my five simple Chinese dips in under five minutes! The recipes are here. If you want to make my gluten free version (which are even skinnier at only 35 calories each), the recipe is here.

Makes 20 spring rolls, 43.5 calories per roll, 218 calories for 5 rolls.
This recipe is the result of many different experiments, whereby it was discovered that the filling tastes best when put in raw, rather than stir-fried and cooled, they’re best rolled up long-ways rather than diagonally, small ones are better than big ones, and the spring rolls bake best when the bottom is brushed with oil, and the top with egg, amongst many other variables, so after all my little experiments in pursuit of the crispiest, tastiest spring roll, I do hope you enjoy them!

  • 10 sheets ready-rolled filo pastry** [525 calories]

For the vegetable filling

  • 350g ‘stir fry’ vegetables, a leafy mix with bean sprouts in it* (e.g. bean sprouts, shredded cabbage, fine julienned carrots and bamboo shoots, finely sliced peppers and onions, spring onions, ready prepared is absolutely fine – as long as they’re reasonably finely shredded - avoid mushrooms as they let out too much moisture when cooking -  look for around 44 calories per 100g, Sainsbury’s Basics is perfect!) [154]
  • ½ a 227g tin water chestnuts (70g drained weight), cut into matchsticks [12]
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, crushed [12]
  • 1 ½ inches of ginger root, peeled and grated [5]
  • ½ tsp Chinese 5 spice (the proper, pure spice blend, avoid varieties containing salt and sugar like Schwartz) [2]
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (dark or light, your preference) [8]
  • ½ tsp toasted sesame oil [23]

To finish

  • 1 tsp neutral oil (rice bran/sunflower/groundnut etc. in a small bowl, with a pastry brush – hair, not silicone) [45]
  • Beaten egg (you’ll only need about ½ a medium sized egg, with a pastry brush, either hair or silicone will do) [44]
  • 2 tsp raw sesame seeds (white or black, your preference) [38]

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7 / 220C / 425F. Line a tray with foil, and put a rectangular wire cake/cooling rack on the top (the wires need to be close together, rather than a roasting rack, to support the spring rolls).

Put all of the vegetable filling ingredients into a bowl and toss together thoroughly.

Take a sheet of filo pastry, put it on a large (dry) chopping board, or clean surface in front of you and cut in half from top to bottom (giving you two long rectangles, of a shape like the first photo, see the next page).

Take your beaten egg, and lightly egg wash the pastry (literally paint the whole thing really lightly with a very thin layer – this will help seal it all up and avoid leakage and soggy bottoms!). Place a heaped desert spoon of the vegetable mixture near the bottom of one of the rectangles, then gently shape into a rough line, leaving 1.5 to 2cm clear on each side. Fold up the bottom of the pastry (second photo), and then fold in the sides (third photo), and lightly egg wash the folded in sides (which don’t have egg wash on). Roll the pastry all the way up, gently but firmly so it’s not too loose (fourth photo).


When you’ve rolled it up, take the pastry brush, dip in the tsp of neutral oil, wipe it firmly against the side/rim of the bowl to get rid of excess oil, and then brush the ‘bottom’ (seam side) of the roll and place it on the wire tray, *across* the wires (not running the same way as the wires, as it will be more likely to stick).

Do the same with the rest of the pastry and filling, until you’ve used up all the filling, and have a tray full of spring rolls lined up on the baking rack.

Take your egg wash, and brush it over the top of each spring roll (not so thickly that it runs down the sides, or else it will glue them to the rack!), then take the sesame seeds and sprinkle them evenly over all of the spring rolls.

That’s it, you’re done – now place the tray near the top of the pre-heated oven, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes (I find 13 is perfect, it will depend on how hot your oven is) until golden and crispy.

Serve immediately, with or without dips of your choice! (See my quick and easy low calorie dips recipes).


Alternative suggestions
Reduce the vegetables by 100g, and…

  • Add 100g chopped char sui pork (why not make your own - it's very easy, you just marinade overnight - my recipe is here) and substitute the soy sauce for 2 tbsp good plum sauce.
  • Add 100g of cooked peeled prawns or cooked shredded chicken and you could substitute the soy sauce for a tbsp of sriracha chilli sauce, or 2 tbsp sweet and sour sauce.
  • Add 100g of cooked shredded duck and substitute the soy sauce for 2 tbsp rich hoisin sauce.
  • Add 100g cooked shredded beef and a couple of tbsp of chopped fermented black beans (as well as the soy sauce)…

The possibilities are endless, just remember to adjust the calories! And if you or your diners are gluten intolerant, see my gluten free Spring Rolls recipe, which is just as easy to make!

*After spending one evening with a pack of beansprouts, chopping and julienning vegetables myself, the next night I grabbed a pack of Sainsbury’s basics ready-prepared stir fry vegetables, 700g for £1, which is basically “Mixed Cabbage (White Cabbage, Green Cabbage), Beansprouts, Carrot, White Onion”, they worked perfectly, so I highly recommend if you would prefer to save time and money.

**I used Sainsbury’s filo pastry – 220g and you get 12 sheets, 53 calories per sheet, which is what I’ve based this recipe on. Be careful, because, for example, a 270g pack of ‘Jus-Rol’ Filo pastry sheets is 119 calories for a sheet, and you only get 6 sheets, so check the packaging (and re-calculate the calories if necessary). This isn’t because Jus Rol is higher in calories, but the sheets are bigger, so you’d need to cut them into 4 long rectangles for a similar result.


I don’t recommend freezing the spring rolls in their uncooked form, as the vegetables are raw, and therefore likely to release liquid if frozen and then defrosted, which would probably result in ‘soggy bottoms’. They may freeze partially/wholly cooked, but again I think they would release liquid upon being re-heated, as the heating time and high temperature is designed to emulate deep frying, and only lightly cook the vegetables while cooking the pastry quickly so it is crispy. If anyone wants to try freezing them, do let me know how you get on, and I will update the recipe as appropriate!


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