In the tuna and tofu spring rolls post, I mentioned that I was able to make 20 spring rolls, right? I didn’t fry them all. I cooked ten pieces, just enough lunch — with rice — for Speedy and myself, and I stored the rest. The girls love fried spring rolls so I reserved ten pieces for them.
Stored? How? Where?
In the freezer, of course, where they won’t spoil.
Won’t they get soggy?
There’s a technique and I’ll share it with you.
The thing about spring rolls is that the wrapper can get soaked with the juices of the filling. That’s why, ideally, spring rolls should go directly into the hot oil after they are wrapped. So, how to prevent the wrappers from getting soaked?
The first thing is to make sure that as much excess liquid in the filling is removed. Remember how the tuna and tofu spring rolls recipe included instructions about squeezing out the excess water from the tofu? Okay, that was because I intended to freeze half of the spring rolls.
Still and all, it is impossible to remove ALL moisture from a spring roll filling. That’s where flour — or starch — comes in.
Take a freezer container and sprinkle the bottom generously with flour or starch (corn starch, potato starch or tapioca starch will all work).
Lay the spring rolls on the floured bottom of the container — single file and not too tightly. Sprinkle the spring rolls with more starch or flour.
Repeat until all the spring rolls are in the container.
The flour or starch will soak up any excess liquid and moisture that gets absorbed by the spring roll wrappers. It will also prevent the spring rolls from sticking to each other. As an added bonus, the flour or starch will form a kind of coating that will turn crisp when the spring rolls are fried.
So, you just stick the container in the freezer and that’s that? Well, yes. And no. Make sure that the freezer is very cold because you want the spring rolls to start freezing immediately. If you have just defrosted your freezer, well, until the proper freezing temperature is reached, the spring rolls will get soggy. In the same manner, power outages will thaw the frozen spring rolls and still make them soggy.
Do the spring rolls need to be thawed before frying? NO. Since you can easily separate them from one another even in their frozen state, you can fry them directly. But since they are frozen, you will need to fry them in smaller batches to make sure that the oil in the frying pan stays hot enough to make them crisp. If you overcrowd the pan, the temperature of the oil will drop and you will be SIMMERING the spring rolls in lukewarm oil rather than frying them.
And just where did I learn all that? If you spend time browsing through grocery shelves and freezers, make an effort to read the labels of products even if you’re not buying them. Frozen food items are everywhere in groceries — ready-to-fry spring rolls, French fries, hash browns… What do the cooking instructions say? DO NOT THAW. Because anything frozen is stiff. When the ice starts melting, the stiffness goes. You want the spring rolls or French fries or hash browns to start browning in hot oil at once — it’s like making the food go from one stiff stage (frozen) to another stiff stage (fried) without allowing it to go through the soggy stage in between.
It’s not rocket science and I sure as hell can’t explain it in more impressive and precise scientific language. But if you’ve been cooking for a long time and you bother observing what actually happens during the cooking process, well, you notice a thing or two. I know I do.