Vegetable Spring Rolls: The Perfect Traditional Recipe to Ring in the Lunar New Year

By Bethany Ivie

February 8, 2021

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.
Spring Rolls on a white and green china plate next to oranges.
Lunar New Year is right around the corner - celebrate by making these traditional 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). 

Two women, in red aprons, stand smiling for the camera. They are standing behind a kitchen island.
Pooi Yin Chong (right) and Annie Bergman Giattina (left) share a traditional Spring Festival recipe just in time to celebrate Lunar New Year.

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 

Ingredients

  • 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)

 Directions

  •  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. 

A demonstration shot of mincing garlic - one hand holds a kitchen knife and one holds cloves of garlic.
You don't have to be a master chef to make these delicious Lunar New Year treats. Watch the tutorial above for the how-to on vegetable spring rolls. 
  • 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
    Annie Bergman Giattina Adds julienned vegetables to a hot wok while Pooi Yin Chong stirs.
    Pooi Yin Chong adds julienned vegetables to a hot wok with the help of Annie Bergman Giattina, creative director for Heifer International.

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
    You'll know the vegetables are done when they are soft and there is no liquid in the bottom of the wok.
    A tip from Pooi Yin: you'll know the vegetables are done when they are soft and there is no liquid in the bottom of the wok.

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 
    Two women in red aprons look over a pan of spring roll filling.
    Pooi Yin Chong (right) and Annie Bergman Giattina prepare to roll vegetable spring rolls.

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.

Pooi Yin Chong demonstrates how to properly roll a spring roll wrapper.
  • 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. 

A pair of tongs remove a golden brown spring roll from hot oil.
Pooi Yin Chong demonstrates how to fry a spring roll to the perfect golden brown.
  • 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!

Looking for another way to ring in the Lunar New Year? We have a game just for you! We celebrate the cow all year long, but check out how we’re celebrating the Year of the Golden Cow.