Papaya Spring Rolls

In my quest to use up a massive green papaya I bought a few weeks ago, I made spring rolls with them. Nothing too different from the typical fried spring rolls you’d get at food court Chinese buffet or a restaurant. The only difference is, instead of using cabbage and rice vermicelli, I used papaya. This makes it almost low carb (if you blissfully ignore the deep fried part). I am surprised that papaya isn’t used more often in Asian cooking. Stir fries in particular lends itself to this fruit. It holds its shape remarkably well after cooking, and is bland enough to take whatever flavour you infuse it with. If I were to draw a comparison, I would label it a cross between a zucchini and maybe a turnip/ jicama (please note this comparison only applies to green papaya). If you’ve ever been to Singapore/ Malaysia, you may have come across a fresh spring roll, called Poh Piah. The Jicama (mang guang) filling in that spring roll is very similar to what I have put together below.

Ingredients

Make 8 large spring rolls

  • 1/4 green papaya (or use 1/4 head of a small cabbage for a more traditional approach)
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 250g mince pork or chicken
  • 1-2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 cup cooking oil (any oil suitable for deep frying)
  • 1 tbsp corn flour mixed with 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp chinese cooking wine (yes, you can omit if you dont have a bottle of it hibernating in your pantry for the last 4 years)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (optional)
  • 1 pack (8-10sheets) of spring roll pastry. LARGE SHEETS (8.5 inch). (I used the Spring Home brand from the Asian Supermarket. If you use the small wrappers, you’ll be wrapping spring rolls for a few hours.
  • salt and pepper to taste

Note: Spring rolls can be baked if you brush or spray them with oil before placing in oven. Place on a rack and bake for 15-20 mins at 200C/390F. Turn them after 10-12 mins.

Method

  1. Peel the papaya and remove the seeds with a spoon.
  2. Give the papaya a rinse if there is sap (only seems to occur with very firm and green papaya. I bought a slightly riper but still green papaya this time).
  3. Slice the papaya into very thin slices and julienne it.
  4. Slice and julienne the carrot.
  5. Heat oil in a fry pan on medium heat and add garlic.
  6. Once garlic starts to turn light brown, add mince, soy sauce, oyster sauce, cooking wine and water.
  7. Keep stirring the mince so that it breaks up into smaller pieces.
  8. Once mince is cooked, add carrot and papaya and mix well.
  9. Fry on medium heat for 5-8 mins, turning occasionally, depending on how crunchy you like your spring rolls.
  10. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Let mixture cool for at least 10 to 20 mins.
  12. Arrange spring roll wrapper in a diamond shape with the pointy corner facing you.
  13. Place 3-4 tbsp of papaya and mince mixture near the bottom of said corner and start rolling it upwards, tucking in the edges midway.
  14. Seal the spring roll by dabbing your fingers in the corn flour slurry and wetting the top edges of the spring roll.
  15. Finish rolling the spring roll and place aside.
  16. Heat a saucepan with 1 cup of cooking oil on medium heat.
  17. Insert the tip of a wooden chopstick in the oil and once it starts bubbling rapidly, add the spring rolls.
  18. Add spring rolls to oil, turning occasionally for 2 minutes until lightly golden. Depending on the size of your pot, do not add more than 3-4 spring rolls at a time.
  19. Repeat with remaining spring rolls.
  20. Serve with sweet chilli sauce or dark soy sauce + minced garlic and chilli.

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