Saturday, December 17, 2011

Vegan Spring Rolls

This is an Asian inspired dish with some French technique. In culinary school, we would wrap meat or fish with spinach, cabbage, or leeks. All we did was blanch the vegetables for a couple seconds and dunk them in ice water so they would become like rice paper.

Here, I used blanched cabbage to roll up an Asian stir fry. The secret to the Asian flavor is one of my favorite pantry items, Chinese five spice. It is the perfect blend of anise, star anise, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves to warm you up in the winter. I served the rolls with a side of ginger sauce and garnished with green onions. I was happy to realize after, that this is a great gluten-free and vegan dish! With some ginger sauce, you might even prefer these over those heavy, greasy egg rolls.

You can also use spinach or kale if you like, or serve the filling with a side of rice. The idea is here, but the creation is your own!

Vegan Spring Rolls (About 15 rolls, 3 per portion)
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 3 red potatoes, medium
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 onion, medium, chopped
  • 10 oz fresh or frozen mixed mushrooms (shiitake, field, button, abalone), chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1-2 Tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
  • sprinkle of sesame seeds
  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive or salad oil

1. Cabbage. Separate 15-20 of the outer leaves from the cabbage head. The best way is to score the bottom of the cabbage where the stem is. Cut all around the stem. Then pull the leaves from the core, gently trying to keep them in tact as much as possible. Wash the leaves and set aside.

Slice the rest of the cabbage, removing the core first. Set aside.

2. Potatoes and Carrot. Peel the potatoes and boil starting with cold water. Cook until just fork tender. When cool to touch, cut into small slices and set aside.

3. Cooking the filling. Saute the onion and garlic in a little oil or vegan margarine first for about 2 minutes or until softened. Then, add in mushrooms and saute for about 5 minutes or pale brown. Make sure you cook them until the liquid is gone.

Add in the sliced cabbage and cook for 2-3 minutes or until softened and water cooks off. Finally, add in the peas, carrot, potatoes, Chinese 5 spice, and soy sauce. Cook until all the vegetables are warmed thoroughly, and you are happy with the taste and texture. Let cool slightly if you have time.

Its too beautiful not to picture here!

4. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and garnish with green onions if you like.

5. Blanching the cabbage. You may chose to blanch the leaves and set them aside on paper towels in the refrigerator if you want to be organized.

Prepare a large ice bath. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt the water. Gather a few paper towels and a flat work surface or plate.

Dunk cabbage leaves in boiling water for no more than a minute and a half, or until the rib part is tender. You can place 2-3 leaves in one pot at a time but you don't want to bring the temperature to low, or be rushing to get them all out at the same time. One they are cooked, dunk them in boiling water for a couple seconds then place them on paper towels to dry. Cut out tough stems to make for easier rolling.

6. Rolling. Place a little filling in the center of a cabbage leaf and roll like a burrito. You may need to overlay cabbage leaves if some ripped or are too small. It takes practice so don't get discouraged if they are not perfect.

I put two mint leaves for a fresh, crisp flavor.

Once rolled tight, I like to cut them on a diagonal to present them.

Ginger sauce
  • 5 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
Boil ingredients above and simmer 5 minutes.
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon water
Mix cornstarch and water in separate bowl, then add to mix in pot. Cook for at least 1 minute to thicken.
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger

Add ginger at last minute. Serve as dipping sauce for Vegan Spring Rolls.

For Vegan Spring Rolls Nutrition Facts, please visit Shape Up America!


  1. It is kind of mouth-watering foods. I love spring rolls. I do use cabbage leaves mostly but the filling I take chicken, carrot, bean sprouts, broccoli and leeks. May be I need to try this vegan filling.
    How to Make Sweet Potato Fries

  2. I like it but I reckon the cabbage should not be limpy and sad. I have red ones that I blanch for a bit and still great :)