Crispy outside, with a rich filling, chunjuan, or literally “spring roll,” is a popular snack across China, especially in the Yangtze River Delta region.
It’s a delicious treat that nearly every Shanghai housewife can make, though many people prefer to buy ready-made rolls from supermarkets. But a true aficionado will tell you that homemade is best.
To make spring rolls, a thin, salted batter is poured into a pan and lightly cooked to produce the wrappers.
Fillings are then added according to taste. Often, marinated meats are used, or red soybean paste for those who prefer sweetness. Chopping vegetables such as cabbage are added.
The wrapper is then rolled up tightly and deep fried until golden.
Salty fillings can vary from pork to clams, from squid to crab meat, while the sweet savory fillings include ground peanuts, hazelnuts and almonds.
In Shanghai, people like spring rolls to be slim and delicate, while in Zhejiang and Fujian provinces, local people prefer bigger, thicker rolls.
Spring rolls are traditionally served to guests during Lunar New Year festivities, but they remain a popular snack the year round.
In ancient China, spring rolls symbolized the start of a new season, and they also provided a nutritional boost to help people get through late winter.