In This Article
- The Lunar New Year marks the end of the cold winter and the beginning of spring.
- Millions of people around the world celebrate the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival.
- In China and other East and Southeast Asian nations, the Lunar New Year is celebrated with festivals, family gatherings and, of course, delicious food.
- Learn how to make one of many traditional dishes enjoyed in China during the Lunar New Year: vegetable spring rolls.
Lunar New Year or Spring Festival is an important holiday celebrated in China and other countries in East and Southeast Asia. Called Chunjie in China, Têt in Vietnam, Seollal in South Korea and Losar in Tibet, Lunar New Year is a multi-day celebration beginning on the first new moon of the lunisolar calendar and ending as the first full moon of the year takes its place. In 2021, Lunar New Year begins on February 12 and ushers in the Year of the Ox or Golden Cow.
Returning home to family and eating good food are strong themes in Lunar New Year celebrations around the world. In China and Vietnam, Lunar New Year festivities begin on New Year's Eve with a family feast called the reunion dinner, one of the most important meals of the year for many families (and the cause of Chunyun - the largest annual migration in the world).
Though the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased risk that travel brings has put a damper on traditional Lunar New Year celebrations in the United States, you can still celebrate the coming spring and honor Chunjie traditions — watch virtual Lunar New Year festivities, join us for a special Year of the Golden Cow celebration and make a few traditional dishes to enjoy and share with your own family or COVID pod.
Pooi Yin Chong, graphic designer and production manager for Heifer International, is sharing her favorite traditional vegetable spring roll recipe just in time for your Lunar New Year festivities. Watch the video below to learn how to make this delicious Spring Festival delicacy.
Vegetable Spring Rolls
Recipe by Pooi Yin Chong
Yield: 12-14 spring rolls
- 1-2 tablespoons oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cabbage
- 2 carrots, peeled
- 2 stalks celery, trimmed and peeled
- 1 onion, skins removed
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 dashes ground white pepper
- 1 package of spring roll wrappers
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Oil for frying
- Optional: sweet chili sauce (for dipping)
- Preheat the Frying Oil
Fill a large, deep pot or frying pan with 2-4 inches of oil (enough to fully cover the spring rolls). Heat the oil to 350 F.
- Finely Mince the Garlic
While the oil is preheating, peel and finely mince 3 garlic cloves. Set aside.
- Slice the Vegetables
Using a sharp knife, julienne the cabbage, carrots, celery and onion and set aside. The vegetables should be sliced about as thin as a matchstick.
- Heat the Wok
In a wok or skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil on high heat.
- Sauté the Garlic
Once the oil is heated through, add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant and golden-brown.
- Add the Vegetables
Once the garlic has browned, add the julienned vegetables to the wok and mix well, cooking over medium heat for 1 – 2 minutes, or until the vegetables have wilted slightly.
- Add the Seasonings
Add the oyster sauce, salt, sesame oil, garlic powder, and remaining seasonings to the vegetable mixture and stir well to evenly combine.
- Cook the Vegetable Filling
Cook the vegetable mixture over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the liquid in the bottom of the wok has mostly evaporated.
Note: This is important! For the crunchy spring rolls that you crave, cook off the moisture from the vegetables as much as possible. Remember, wet filling means wet spring rolls.
- Allow Filling to Cool
Spread cooked filling in over a metal baking pan and allow to cool completely. Do not fill spring roll wrappers while the vegetable filling is warm or the wrappers will become soggy.
As the mixture cools, prop one end of the baking sheet up so that it rests at a slight angle. Collect and discard any remaining cooking liquid that drains from the vegetables.
- Prepare Spring Roll Wrappers
While the filling is cooling, place the spring roll wrappers between damp paper towels so that they don’t become brittle.
- Fill and Roll the Spring Rolls
Spread one spring roll wrapper on a flat surface, with one corner facing you (the wrapper should look like a diamond as you look down at it).
Place about 2 tablespoons of the cooled vegetable filling near the corner closest to you. Slowly roll the wrapper into a tight wrap around the filling. Fold both the right and the left corners towards the center and continue rolling until you reach the opposite corner.
Note: Eliminate as much air as you can as you roll the spring roll. Trapped air means that your spring rolls could burst during frying.
Seal the spring roll by brushing the final corner with an egg wash.
- Fry the Spring Rolls
Once you have stuffed all of your wrappers with filling and rolled them to perfection, it’s time to fry. Because the vegetable filling has already been cooked, you can fry your spring rolls at a high temperature for a short time - 350 F works well.
- Drain the Spring Rolls and Serve
When the rolls are golden brown, carefully remove them from the hot oil and place them on a paper towel to drain. Let them cool down a bit before serving. Enjoy with sweet chili sauce or the sauce of your choice and have a Happy Lunar New Year!