On weekends when I have all the sweet time in the world, I like puttering around the kitchen—flipping through my cookbooks, digging out ingredients—you know productive activities. Never mind the plants need pruning, the house needs cleaning. Then I’ll finally get around to cooking up something pleasant and satisfying—such as these beautiful and scrumptious fried spring rolls.
Every country in Southeast Asia has its own interpretation of spring rolls. In Malaysia, there are no less than three variations of spring rolls or “popiah.” The Straits Chinese like their popiah or spring rolls wet with savory fillings of julienned jicama, diced bean curd (firm tofu), shrimp, and crab meat wrapped in fresh spring roll wrapper coated with sweet sauce (tee cheow) and chili paste. The Mamak (Indian-Muslim) prefer sweet date sauce in their spring rolls and less ingredients are used. They also like their popiah (spring rolls) deep fried to perfection and served with spicy hot sauce.
In the Philippines, spring rolls are called lumpia and come in smaller packages; while in Vietnam, Cha Gio (Vietnamese spring rolls) are filled with ground pork and cellophane noodles instead of vegetables. And then there is the popular egg roll—a common appetizer in American Chinese restaurants—made with a thick spring roll (egg roll) wrapper and packed with shredded cabbage and served with sweet and sour sauce.
Regardless of its size, recipe, and method of preparation, spring rolls are tremendously popular. Try making spring rolls on one of your weekends or whenever you want to indulge in the joy of cooking. Suffice it to say, spring rolls are absolutely worth devouring. And let your maid or significant other handle the unpleasant chores. This is my recipe of fried spring rolls, a Malaysian version of spring rolls. Enjoy!
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