My Lunch Can Beat Up Your Lunch!

Bento Recipes: Spring Rolls


Back to the
or the


Spring rolls are kind of like egg rolls that aren't deep fried. You make them with rice paper wraps, which are translucent circles of pressed rice flour. They look like small, very fragile manhole covers. You can see what's inside of them, which makes presentation more interesting. They have no real taste of their own, so whatever you put into them won't clash with their flavor.

So far I've made four kinds of spring roll: fruit spring rolls with ginger chocolate dipping sauce, salad spring rolls, shrimp & cabbage spring rolls, and spring chicken rolls. More to come!

A note about putting these onto your bento boxes: spring roll wrappers need to be kept moist or they'll dry out and harden. That means wrapping them in plastic. That's woefully unaesthetic, but it does keep the roll fresh, and if it's a fruit spring roll you don't want the flavors of the box's other contents to mix with it. They don't keep all that long in the fridge, so I don't make more than I'll eat in a day or two.

How to prepare the wrapper (moved to the top because it's silly to copy it into ever recipe):

First, soak the rice paper. Rather, soak one sheet at a time. The things are big, about the size of a dinner plate. Carefully take one out of the package and set it in a pan of warm water big enough to hold the whole thing.  (I used a large skillet.) Push it under the surface of the water and let it soak undisturbed for about 2 minutes, until pliable. Then take it out of the water. Did I mention that these things are very fragile? The edges will almost certainly develop small tears along the edges, but if you're careful you should be able to lift it out without those going too deep. Place it flat on a paper towel, put another towel on top, and gently press the excess water out.

Fruit spring rolls with ginger chocolate dipping sauce - I love fruit and chocolate, and this combination sounded wonderful. And it is.

What you'll need:

    4 rice paper spring roll wrappers
    1 mango, peeled and sliced into thin strips
    1 banana, sliced into strips or long ovals 
    4 medium strawberries, sliced thinly
    1 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced into coins

    Chocolate sauce
    Heavy whipping cream
    Fresh ginger root, or candied ginger

You can also use canned mandarin orange segments, peeled regular orange segments, raspberries, pineapple chunks, guava, or whatever soft fruit strikes your fancy. The above is what I used.

Prepare the wrapper, then fill it. You may think that because of its size you can make something as big as a burrito, but because of the flimsiness of the rice paper you're actually going for something more the size of an egg roll. So, place the fillings on it, first bananas (which are cut in strips instead of rounds for the purpose of structural strength), then kiwis, then mangos, then strawberries. You can do them in any other order, of course, but you can see through the rice paper, and sliced strawberries look nice on the outside. After this fold the top and bottom in, then roll it up like a burrito. Ideally it should be tight, not bendy, so that when you dip it into the sauce the fillings won't all flop out.

As for the sauce - the recipe I found involved three stages of cooking, and caramelization, and straining, and cooking tools I don't even own. No thanks, I'm not that ambitious! I just mix a tablespoon of heavy whipping cream with a tablespoon of chocolate syrup, add in a bit of finely grated ginger, and microwave it for 10 seconds. Or, when I'm in a lazy mood I simply chop up a little candied ginger as finely as I can and mix that into chocolate syrup.

You can also slice candied ginger thin and lay it in a straight line along the fruit before wrapping the roll up. Use it sparingly, though, as a little goes a long way!

Shrimp & cabbage spring roll

This is the spring roll version of shrimp & cabbage egg rolls. I use the same filling recipe, except that I cook the shrimp separately, skewering large raw shrimp on a bamboo skewer straight out and cooking them for a few minutes in boiling salted water. The skewer keeps them from curling up, so I can lay them below the fillings on the open wrapper so they'll be visible on the outside when the roll is rolled up. Of course, you can also do this with little curly cocktail shrimp.

Salad spring rolls

This is really simple and basic. Want to package a salad so you can pick it up with your hands? Here ya go! I've done this with green salads. Use the same ingredients, but cut things up smaller to fit the roll format. Cut the lettuce into strips, slice tomatoes and mushrooms into thin slices instead of thick chunks, and cut carrots into thin "twigs" or make strips using a vegetable peeler. Not only will this make it easier to roll the salad up; properly cutting the ingredients up will keep them from falling out too much when you eat the roll.

When you've got the ingredients ready and have prepared the wrapper, place about half a cup of the salad in a 4" long vertical "bar" in the center of the wrapper. Make sure you get a good mixture of ingredients. You can put salad dressing in at this stage or serve it on the side as a dipping sauce. (I mix ginger dressing in with the salad, but put all others on the side.) Fold the top and bottom in, then roll it up like a burrito. Ideally it should be tight, not bendy, so that when you dip it into the sauce the fillings won't all flop out.

Not chicken sausageSpring Chicken Rolls - These are like chicken egg rolls, but because they're wrapped in rice paper they're much lighter tasting and less caloric.

What you'll need (amounts are approximate):

    4 rice paper spring roll wrappers
    1 chicken breast
    teriyaki sauce
    4 cabbage leaves sliced into thin strips
    2 tbsp olive oil
    several ounces of enoki mushrooms

You can use soy sauce in place of the teriyaki sauce and vegetable oil in place of olive oil, if you don't have those items on hand. The enoki mushrooms aren't required either; I put them in because they look snazzy and add a little extra flavor and texture.

Grill the chicken breast until it's done through, then cut it against the grain into 1/4" thick strips, dip those into a shallow dish of teriyaki sauce, and set aside. Make the cabbage according to the directions for stir-fried cabbage. Wash the enoki mushrooms, cut off the root section, then separate them into small bunches about an inch in diameter.

Time to prepare and fill the wrapper. Fold the top edge of the wrapper downward, so you end up with a flat-topped circle. Then place a strip of chicken vertically on the wrapper, with the end about level with the flat edge. (if you're working with shorter strips use more than one. I use 5-inch-long strips.) Now add some cabbage. You can't use that much, as rice paper is flimsy stuff, so a few tablespoons is a good place to start. Then place the enoki mushrooms so the caps will be sticking out above the top of the flat edge. Finally, If you like the rolls to be very chickenny add another strip of chicken on top. Now fold the bottom up, fold one side over toward the other side, and then roll it up like a burrito. If it's tight enough the fillings won't escape while you're eating it.