As many of you know, my daughter-in-law Ming lives in Atlanta but she’s originally from Taiwan and moved to the US when she was only 13. It must have been one helluva shock to a 13-year-old to be adopted out of her family, leaving her parents and brother and sister behind.
I know it’s tradition but it has to hurt when you’re that special age for a young girl and there’s not enough money to educate everyone – so not only do you lose your family — all those folks in the US talk funny when all you can speak is Chinese. Every time I think about the huge adjustments she made as a young girl, my admiration for her grows ever stronger.
She finished high school, put herself through college and now is the best mother my two youngest grandchildren could ever hope to have. I’ve truly been blessed. We have a terrific relationship even though we’re 10,000 miles apart. She’s always called me mom, in spite of having two other mothers. When her first child was about to be born (after 13 years of trying!) it was me she wanted in the delivery room and could I please travel from Australia to Atlanta? You betcha.
When I went to the nose-to-tail class the other day and they made spring rolls, it reminded me of making spring rolls with Ming years ago. When I make them I take several minutes to get the filling in just the right spot and the rolls all nice and tight.
In seemingly one sweeping motion, she can make a spring roll and glue the end and have it on the plate in about 30 seconds without one bit of paste on her nose. Not one piece of bean sprout poking out anywhere and no holes in either end either. So much for practice. or my butterfingers. I just don’t make them often enough, maybe.
Ming told me once that if she doesn’t have rice every other day she gets really stressed. I don’t think there’s any food that I must have in order to feel good, do you? I suppose when you’re raised having rice several times a day, it becomes a part of your life.
Ming’s a terrific cook and one day, my little princess Jade who’s 7 going on 25 and who eventually shall rule the world, hopefully will cook as well as her mother. My son is much like his mother and teases everyone and Ming is no exception.
If you read the recipe from the class I went to on Sunday, most people don’t have fresh galangal and fresh turmeric lying around and maybe not even fresh ginger in their house all the time. Neither did I and I wasn’t going out in the rain to get them so I used what I had in the house. The spring rolls turned out crunchy and full of flavor.
Would they have been better with all fresh ingredients? I imagine they would be but that’s not the point of this post. I proved that I could take mostly pantry items and a bag of crunchy salad mix John bought and a packet of frozen spring roll wrappers and come up with a zesty spring roll fit for family or company. As you can see I cooked 5 spring rolls. There are only two of us here. I ate the one that was cut for the photo and John ate the other 4. Inhaled, I should have said. He really liked them and is glad we have 15 more in the freezer.
This was the best spring roll I’ve made so far!
- 1 packet spring roll wrappers
- 300 grams or one package of crunchy salad mix with lots of cabbage
- 1 onion, chopped
- Bean sprouts (fresh or canned)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
- 500 grams (1 lb) minced pork
- 1 tsp powdered ginger or 1 tbs of fresh ginger
- 1 tsp powdered turmeric
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp chilli powder (can use less if you don't like it too spicy)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- soy sauce to taste
- ½ can coconut milk
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup crushed macadamia nuts (I left good sized pieces because I like the crunch)
- oil for frying
- Place the nuts, onion, garlic and spices in a frying pan with 2 tablespoons of oil and over low heat gently cook the mixture until aromatic.
- Add the coconut milk and half cup of water and cook until thickened
- Season with soy sauce, salt and more chilli if you want it even hotter.
- Add pork and simmer until meat is cooked.
- In another pan saute all the vegetables to your desired doneness, I only cooked mine for just a few minutes as I like my spring rolls crunchy.
- Add the pork mixture and cook for 2 minutes, stirring well to combine.
- Set mixture aside to cool. (I put mine in the fridge for 45 minutes)
- Separate the spring rolls. This can take some time as the little buggers stick together, so leave the mixture in the refrigerator until you've got them all separated.
- Make a paste of flour and water that you can brush on the ends of the wrappers.
- Place a spoonful of mixture in one corner of the wrapper and fold the end over the mixture and squeeze it together to tighten the roll and roll til you're in the middle of the wrapper.
- Fold both sides into the middle and put some paste on the top end.
- With the flat of your hand, push the roll to the end.
- Set in one layer on a plate.
- Keep going until you've used up all the mixture (or eat the last bits with a spoon like I did)
- Let the rolls sit for an hour before frying or keep enough to fry and freeze the remainder.
- Heat oil to 180C/350F and place one roll in the middle and cook for 30 seconds and turn over and cook for another 30 seconds and move to the side of the pan and place another spring roll in the center of the pan and continue.
- As the previous rolls become golden brown, remove and place on absorbent paper.
- Serve with a mixture of plum sauce and soy sauce.
Awesome post Maureen and a great recipe that you’ve inspired me to make minus the pork.
Thanks so much for coming by, Madonna, not many of my “real” friends think to leave a comment 🙂 I know you’re a veggo but these would be good without the pork. Add more carrot.
Adrian (What the Heck is Filipino Food) says
Love it. They looks great. I too add nuts and paprika to my springrolls – best huh?! I like to eat the remaining mixture with rice. Thanks for sharing your family’s story also, so inspiring 🙂
I never thought of cooking rice to eat with the leftovers. I stood at the sink with a huge spoon shoveling it into my tiny mouth 🙂
These look amazing – wonderful flavors !
Hi Mary and thanks so much for stopping by. If you were here I’d share!
Denise Browning@From Brazil To You says
Maureen: I have tears in my eyes!!! What a touching story…You are certainly blessed for having such a great daughter and grandchildren as well in your life but I think Ming is the real blessed one for having a loving and caring American mother for all these years. This does not happen every day. And the rolls? Yum, yum, yum…from the filling to the wrappers!
I am American, Denise, but I live in Australia so it’s not quite the same. With the help of skype, email and phone, we’re still very close.
What a lovely post, and your daughter in-law sounds beautiful!!! This post reminded me of when my family used to make homemade eggrolls. That was a serious process, but so delicious!!! Your recipe sounds awesome, with fun unique flavors added in:-) Hugs, Terra
so share the family recipe??
What lovely words for your daughter-in-law to read. I always struggle to make all my spring rolls the same size they never look as professional as yours!
I only showed you the pretty sides 🙂
Judy @Savoring Today says
Such beautiful spring rolls you made in honor of Ming, I am sure you did her proud. 🙂 It is a great blessing when children choose their spouses well, our family grows, and our hearts expand to receive them like our own. I know what you mean about the challenges of a being a young girl in a place where everything they’ve known is different. We are hosting a foreign exchange student and I marvel at how this 16 yr old handles being without the family, culture, food, school, language, and everything else she is used to. Brave girls indeed.
Aren’t you wonderful to host a foreign student. My parents hosted a kid from Peru when I was growing up and I had 3 from Sweden. It’s a fantastic experience I think.
What a great post! You are both very lucky to have each other! The spring rolls look delicious!
Adding the spices really makes a difference 🙂
Sounds like your daughter in-law is a keeper. I have never experimented cooking Asian foods – I guess the thought of making them intimidates me a little. Your spring rolls look delicious!
Oh Eileen, you must try it. Get a cheap metal wok, season it and start cooking 🙂 I have 3 woks and my little metal one is my fave.
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
I love spring rolls, these look wonderful!
me too and I don’t make them very often.. hopefully I’ll think of them again soon
Really nice story – you have a great family. And nice recipe! I’ve never made spring rolls – something on my endless To Do list. 😉 And it’s always good to see the insides of wrapped things like spring rolls! Good post – thanks.
you should! The first time I ever made them was years ago and we had a party and everyone pitched in. The kitchen was a mess but we had a lovely time
Ming sounds like a wonderful young woman, Maureen. How lucky for you all that she made her way to your family! These spring rolls sound delicious and the ingredients can be easily sourced. You’ve inspired me to try making them, something I’ve never attempted before. Thank you.
We are incredibly lucky that my son hired her to work for him and then fired her so he could date her 🙂
Deb@ Simple Plate says
These are on the board for after Easter! I love spring rolls, egg rolls, well heck if its Asian and there’s no tofu I’m in!
LOL Deb, I’m with you!
The Café Sucré Farine says
Maureen, these look and sound fabulous! How fun that you and your daughter-in-law have such a close relationship! She sounds like a doll!
I suspect your inlaw children are just the same as mine. family through and through. 🙂
Such a moving story Maureen… thanks for sharing.. and it’s about time to make some spring rolls.. I guess I can substitute veggies and meat for whatever you have on hand… Do you think that spring rolls can be baked? I wonder.. I’m not fond of fried food…
Hi Agnes, I’m not sure about baking. I’m really fond of the Chinese way of cooking them in hot enough oil that they don’t absorb much. Maybe someone else can share information on baked. Not sure I’d want a baked one 🙂
Barbara | Creative Culinary says
What a sweet story…and on top of that? Really nice looking spring rolls too!
They were great, Barb, nice and crunchy
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Wonderful recipe and story Maureen…
Thanks, Lizzy.. with your Mum’s cake and Ming’s spring rolls, we’re very family this week 🙂
Wow.. what a lovely post. Your DIL is beautiful and I agree what a heroic tale of her leaving her family at that very tender age. It’s wonderful that you have such a close relationship. I love egg rolls and these looks just delicious. Love the added nuts for added crunch. Well done. 🙂
I hadn’t used the word heroic but she is definitely my hero for overcoming what must have been an extremely difficult time. She has reconciled with her family in Taiwan and talks to them often and visits when she can.
Spring rolls (and eventually egg rolls) are definitely in my future especially after seeing something this tasty. I’m curious about how you fried them however. Were they shallow fried or deep fried … the pushing to the side of the pan is a bit hard for me to picture. 🙂
I fried them in a wok so the middle bits are hotter than the sides 🙂
Michael Toa says
What a beautiful post. You are very luck to have each other!
I love spring rolls especially when they are home-made ones. I would have inhaled them as well 🙂
I called Ming and told her what I’d done and she was all, “awww Mom.”
Angie@Angie's Recipes says
An inspiring and lovely entry, Maureen. Ming looks happy and beautiful
I love spring rolls…can’t stop just eating one, you know..that’s the reason I dare not to make them at home…
I can only eat one but in an hour I want another 🙂
suzanne Perazzini says
I think the fact that she wanted you in the delivery room explains just how close the two of you are. What a wonderful relationship!
Ming has a beautiful, giving soul. We’re a lucky family.
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
What a beautiful post – thanks so much for sharing some of your family history with us. I’m sure your daughter-in-law would love this post, as well as the spring rolls.
I think she’s just glad it’s Spring over there 🙂
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
Aww I’m not surprised that you’re the first person she wanted by her side Maureen! I can imagine how important you are to her 😀 These look fantastic!
Thanks Lorraine. The ones at your house probably look like Ming’s 🙂
Love. Loyalty. Food. Life gets no better than this.
aww, thanks, Roberta 🙂
Lovely story Maureen. Sad you live so far away. Still Ming would be proud of your spring rolls non the less
it is really tough sometimes, Tania. I pretend it’s not but there are days I can’t get enough American food in me to get over wanting a cuddle.
Thank you for the clarification. For some reason, I didn’t get the fact that it was made in a wok. 🙂
For the person who asked about baking the spring rolls:
Directions for baking:
Preheat oven at 425 degrees. Brush oil on both sides of rolls, place on baking pan. Bake for approximately 16 minutes, flipping halfway through. Serve.
I agree thought that the best flavour would probably come from frying at the proper temperature. 🙂
I didn’t say wok because I didn’t want folks to think if they didn’t have one, they couldn’t make these. I should have said. Thanks heaps for the baking instructions. I think I’ll stick with quick frying but it’s nice to know there’s an alternative.
I had no idea families did that, how terribly hard for her! She truly is a great story of perseverance!
Mary Frances says
Wow – When my boys marry, I hope I have a daughter-in-law relationship like you have!
I once had a manicurist from Vietnam who gave me her recipe and instructions for spring rolls. I spent a good part of the afternoon making them, they were awesome, totally appreciated and gobbled up and I’ve never made them again. I must try yours!! Thanks for posting!
I’m sure you will. You aren’t the bossy mother-in-law type either. Let them live their lives and you’ll be rewarded with best friends.
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
Your spring rolls look terrific. Perfectly rolled as far as I’m concerned and very tasty.
Thanks, Karen, I knew someone would appreciate my talents. 🙂
I’ve had a long time dislike/fear of deep frying but I seem to be getting over it. 🙂 Some things are just NOT as good baked, I found. Like my one and only attempt at Scotch eggs. I intend to make them again one of these days, deep fried like they should be.
By the way, your daughter-in-law is lovely and it’s nice that you have found something else to bond with her over … your love of cooking. 🙂
Maureen – what a great story! I can definitely feel the bond between you and your DIL who is thousands of miles away! And what a great mother to fly so far to be with her. Looks to me like you have mastered the art of rolling a spring roll. I’ve got a long way to go to get mine to look like that. Thanks for the instructions!
Jennifer @ Delicieux says
Your spring rolls look perfect Maureen! I always manage to have the filling spilling out of mine. 🙂
I was taught the trick to that was to place them in a single layer on a plate or tray and let them sit out for an hour before frying 🙂
Glamorous Glutton says
I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to leave your parents so young. The thought of possibly never seeing them again would be devastating. How brave your Ming must be. I used to make spring rolls with a friend of mine from Hong Kong when she was over here. It was a wonderful relaxing way to spend time together, doing something we both enjoyed and I was learning. Could do with rolling tips though! GG
but… did you end up with paste on YOUR nose like I did? 🙂
Mireya @myhealthyeatinghabits says
Great post! I’ve been wanting to make them for awhile. I bought the wrappers but didn’t get around to using them so I stuck them in the freezed. It looks like it’s time to pull them out again.
You will LOVE yourself for this!!
Kiran @ KiranTarun.com says
Delicious spring rolls! And I love the relationship you both share 🙂
We are both pretty lucky, I reckon 🙂
Mary Frances says
Maureen – you are so sweet. Sure hope you’re right!
Julia | JuliasAlbum.com says
You have such a sweet daughter in law! And she’s got such a sweet mother-in-law! And, I’d love to have these spring rolls which look so delicious!
Bam's Kitchen says
Maureen, this is a beautiful story of a very special lady. I really love your western adaptations to an eastern dish, especially the additions of the macadamia nuts. Sounds delicious!
What an awesome story Maureen! I can’t imagine leaving my family at that age and living with a foreign family, so sad.
You sound like such a proud mum and grandmother 🙂
Such a delicious looking recipe, I would love to try it but I am worried I would eat them all on my own :0!!
Simply Sweet Justice says
What a special post! Ming sounds very special. There must be many laughs when you are all together and cooking in the kitchen! 🙂 I’ve never tried making spring rolls because I wanted a tried-and-true recipe, and here it is. Thank you!
Wonderful story, Maureen. Haha my mum is the same re: rice. I once went without grains for two weeks for an experiment I was doing and when I told my mum, she freaked out. She thinks that if I went without rice, I’d surely collapse and die!
Kimby | a little lunch says
Maureen, your daughter-in-law is a beautiful young woman and your sentiments about her were so touching! I also loved the humor you interjected throughout this post 🙂 and your terrific idea to use prepared cabbage mix. Thanks!
If I were doing a “real” batch for major freezing I would make everything from scratch but I wanted to prove that if you’re hankering for some spring rolls you can get them done in 30 minutes. 🙂
Eva Taylor says
I’m sure you could guess that I’m a huge fan of Fresh Rolls, but to be honest I would just dive into these. How wonderful that you get on so famously with your DIL, so refreshing (too many bad MIL jokes out there!). I got on very well with my MIL but I wouldn’t have had her in the delivery room (had I been there), so that is some compliment.
I have to laugh, when I asked Ming “why me?” She chuckled and said, “Because you’re funny and I don’t want to be scared and who can be scared when they’re laughing?”
Tasty looking spring rolls!
These look so good – I love the fried ones, but try to stick with the healthier spring roll version. I might have to change my mind to satisfy the craving I suddenly have now! And I agree that good kid-in-laws are a huge blessing – our sons in law are both great people!
you’re lucky too. I don’t do fried food very often but food memories are very helpful when living away from family and personal history 🙂
What perfectly wrapped spring rolls! I always have trouble getting mine tight enough, but yours look uniform and immaculate, all the the way around. I can tell from just a glace that they came out shatteringly crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, too.
they were good and maybe I’ll have another one tonight 🙂
Cass @foodmyfriend says
These look so awesome Maureen. I love springers! It must have been really tough for her. I’m sure she is fine now with your wonderful family though!
springers! my new name for them! 🙂
Kitchen Belleicious says
i love spring rolls. They are so simple and easy and yet turn out so flavorful with the perfect texture. Yours are no exception. LOVE
There’s a lot going on so I love making a huge batch and freezing them.
Wow that’s so cool that your daughter-in-law is from Taiwan 🙂 I use to go 3 to 4 times a year with my sister because she has to go on business trips and I would tag along. I love their food culture and people there are so friendly!
Can’t wait to try this recipe out soon! Never made springrolls nor have I fried anything lol hope i don’t burn anything 😛
oh Daisy, you’re so cute. You’ll love these and I doubt you’ve had these flavours in Taiwan. 🙂
Yasmeen @ Wandering Spice says
I loved reading this post about the special relationship you have with Ming. I have such a close relationship with my mother-in-law, and it’s one I cherish especially since my own mother is in Washington DC (and we’re in Melbourne!). My sister-in-law’s family is also from Taiwan, so we have a few things in common 🙂
The spring rolls looks delicious – they’re my guiltiest pleasure, probably, so I will be trying these out!
I love that spring rolls are your guilty pleasure. I do feel guilty when I eat them but so look forward to it. We DO have a lot in common!
Christina @ The Hungry Australian says
Wonderful post, Maureen. Your spring rolls look fantastic and I enjoyed reading about your daughter in law – she sounds like an amazing person. It’s lovely that you two cook together – it’s one of my favourite things to do with my own kids although they have fairly short attention spans lol.
I don’t get much chance to cook with my grands but I so look forward to doing that.
Kitchen Butterfly says
What a fitting tribute to a daughter (in-law). And the fact that this story has food in it, makes for a happy ending for me too!
I’m a very lucky woman to have the daughter-in-law and friend that I do. Thanks SO much for coming by!
Sara @bellyrumbles says
Adore the use of pantry items. Just an awesome recipe and you have proven a great point. I once made some spring rolls using some peking duck off cuts from the freeze and other bits laying around, they rocked.
Exactly, Sara! I always feel like I’ve saved money if I can rescue something from the fridge or pantry and make something new with it.
sharon scattolon says
Hi Maureen – thank you for posting your recipe. What size can of coconut milk do you use?
oh dear.. I’m pretty sure it was Ayam brand that I used and it was a 270ml can.
Thanks for wasting 3 hours of my time with your comment about letting the rolls sit for an hour before frying. I don’t know what kind of egg roll wrappers you used, (I bought the Wing brand), but after an hour of being wrapped up with a moist substance inside of them, the wrappers were about as strong as a piece of wet toilet paper. Where is the logic in leaving them sit anyway?
I’m really sorry I wasted three hours of your time, it certainly wasn’t intended. I suspect the wrappers I can buy here might be different from what you have. Mine tended to dry out a bit and fried better. My apologies.