Friday, June 7, 2013

Hainanese Spring Rolls - MFF Penang #5

Alan asked me to make this, haha!

Hock Chai, the talented chef cum owner of ZiZai restaurant posted a droolicious picture of Hainanese Spring Rolls that he once ate. Alan saw it and interrogated him on this dish, LOL, and in the end, asked me to do it.

Personally I have never eaten this before, but I think by the looks of it, it looks rather similar with the one that Hock Chai posted.

Hock Chai once saw an old Hainanese chef make this. He was a friend of his father. Old masters rarely teach people on how to cook certain things, especially dishes that is part of their livelihood. But if one is sharp enough, just by going in and out of the kitchen, one can pick up many tricks and skills just by observing. And if you're lucky, the chef will teach you a trick or two.

According to Hock Chai, Hainanese spring rolls uses a crepe as skin. Not the regular spring roll wrappers. He gave me a rough recipe and I came up with this wrapper. It was crispy when freshly fried, but doesn't stay crispy for long. Acceptable within 20 minutes, but any longer is soft. Hock Chai said, those sold are crispy for half an hour and only crispy if one dines in. Take aways are soggy for sure. Seriously... I am not sure how close I am to the real thing. LOL. But the filling is tasty on its own and Hock Chai said, the dipping sauce is essential to this dish. Tamarind, worcestershire sauce, lime and mustard, a fusion of British and local ingredients that makes it 'Penang' :)

Thanks Hock Chai for your generosity to share and teach.

Hainanese Spring Rolls
By WendyinKK 
Guided by Hock Chai
Makes 10

160gm bread flour
40gm tapioca starch
440ml water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
60ml cooking oil

Filling, all thinly sliced/julienned
2 cups jicama
2 cups cabbage
3/4 cup carrots
3/4 cup leek
3/4 cup  spring onion
1 red onion
Seasoning: 1 Tbsp oyster sauce, pepper, 1/2 tsp chicken stock powder, salt to taste

1/2 cup chicken, cut into strips
1/2 cup shrimp flesh, diced
1/2 cup crab meat
Seasoning: 1 tsp oyster sauce and pinch of salt and pepper

5 shallots, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp plain flour
Enough water to form a thick paste

1. Prepare pastry batter. Sift starch, flour and baking soda together. Mix with salt and water. Give it a vigourous stirring for 1-2 minutes. Mix in the oil. Let the batter sit for 1 hour.
2. Cook the batter. Heat a 9 inch or 10 inch non stick pan on medium heat. Pour in a thin layer of batter and cook until it bubbles up. Turn off the heat and let it cool down for about 30 secs then flip it over to an overturned bamboo tray. Repeat until all the batter is used up. ( see video). Take note that if the pan is too hot, the crepe becomes  pock marked.
3. Heat wok and put in 4 tbsp of oil. Saute sliced hallots on medium low heat until they turn crispy and golden. Drain and dish up, set aside.
4. Remove half the oil and set aside. Saute the chicken on high heat until it turns opaque and looks almost dry, push it to the side and put in prawns and cook until it turns colour, push to the side and lastly put in crab meat and saute for a while. Push all the meat back and add seasonings. Cook until dry and fragrant. Dish up and set aside.
5. Pour the remaining shallot oil back in (add more oil if needed) and turn heat to HIGH.Saute the onions until fragrant and translucent, put in leeks and cook until fragrant. Add in carrots and cook until they no longer look 'hard', then put in cabbage and jicama. Add in seasonings and cook until the filling is no longer seem juicy and fragrant. Dish up onto a colander and let the juices drip dry (if there is).
6. Combine all the fillings together. Take one piece of pastry and put 3 heaped tbsp of filling onto it. Try to pat the fillings tight. Fold both sides of pastry in and roll up tightly. Smear the ends with some 'glue' and finish up the rolling.
7. Deep fry the formed rolls on medium heat as as soon as you can after wrapping until they are lightly golden. Heat up with oil until very hot and deep fry it a second time until they are very golden.
8. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.


Dipping Sauce

1 Tbsp mustard
1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp tamarind juice (just rub some tamarind pulp with water)
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp sugar (or to taste)
Birds's eye chlli and red chilli (as you wish)

Combine mustard, worcestershire sauce and tamarind juice together. Heat up in microwave until it boils. (I can't think of any other way to cook 3 tbsp of liquid).  Then combine with other ingredients.

 I am submitting this to Malaysian Food Fest Penang Month 


  1. Looks good, leh! Can this spring roll be found anywhere or is it extinct already? Then Wendy can sell, hee..hee...

  2. LOVELY , ^_^ THANK YOU for the lovely recipe sharing and Video. I enjoying the Spring roll now ! Wendy you r the great

  3. I can see that this looks really yummy and delicious especially the dipping sauce. Got to give this a try one day. YUM!

  4. look so yummy,can we just eat it without deep frying ?

  5. Look yummy...especially the dipping sauce!! Now i dry my veg under the sun after that i want to try your "acar awak"!!

  6. Look like popiah skin. Does it taste like popiah skin?

  7. looks very good. i like popiah as well, so i thinks this also taste like a popiah.

  8. Phong Hong,
    It's still found there, as stated in Hock Chai's blog. But rare.

    Zi Zai @ Hock Chai,
    thanks for the guidance, if not, I wouldn't know what to do

    If u like sour hot hot, ahah!

    mf low,
    the skin taste like kuih.. like crepe... soft soft.... I wouldn't, haha.

    little blue,
    Join us this month ok, submit the acar :)

    Nope, when it's not fried, it taste like crepe.

    xing hui,
    Not the usual popiah :)

  9. Wonderful recipe. Can the popiah "skin" be kept overnight in the fridge to be used the next day? Will they stick to each other when piled on top of one another?



  10. Hi Wendy,

    I really like your blog and the recipes! I would like to pinterest your recipes onto my board. It will be definitely be linked to your blog to acknowledge that the original creator of the recipes and pictures are from you.

    Do let me know if it's totally ok with you.


  11. CK,
    I actually wrapped mine the next day.
    It can be kept chilled, won't stick because of the oil, but it lost some of its resilience. It breaks easier, so must be extra careful during wrapping

  12. Joey,
    Sure, don't worry. I put the Pinterest button there for everybody to pin :)
    I think so far, pinterest is auto linking back.

  13. I have never heard of hainanese spring rolls before! omg. Looks absolutely amazing! I love love love popiah and chinese spring rolls, but this one has a skin that looks entirely different from both, crispy yes but also with more texture rather than being smooth, so interesting! def trying this out when I get the time! sure I will love it!

  14. My all time favorite Choon Pheah.. I get my fix at Beach Cafe in Penang... a lot of work to make this... Beach cafe makes a really good one! Yours look very ho liao.. making my drool and missing this dreadfully...

    I love the sweet crab meat in the roll but to make this, I probably have to steam the crab to get the meat as those frozen ones are just too fishy... :)

  15. Where is Beach Cafe?

  16. Emily,
    You can refer to Hock Chai's posting.
    The link is in the 2nd line of this post

  17. These look incredibly tempting. Perfect paired with a very spicy dip.


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