History of Chinese Egg Rolls and Spring Rolls


Chinese egg rolls

The egg and spring roll as many know it today is a famous appetizer served in almost all Asian restaurants but more recently spring and egg rolls have become a common option on bar & appetizer menus in many restaurants all over the place.

From Tex-Mex, often called a southwestern egg roll, to the pizza roll and even known as the cheese steak roll, variations of this delicious street snack are all over the place! 

So what’s the origin of the egg roll and spring roll anyway? But first let’s understand the difference between both of them. Let’s get started.

Difference Between Spring Roll and Egg Roll 

There are few primary differences between spring rolls & egg rolls that can surely help you distinguish between the two rolls (a really helpful trick if you are staring at a list of appetizers & just can’t decide which roll you want to order): 

egg rolls and spring rolls

Wrapper: Spring rolls are usually wrapped in thin flour wrappers or wrapped in rice wrappers, while the egg rolls are wrapped in much thicker, noticeably crispier wrappers that have been dipped many times in egg for richness. 

Preparation: Egg rolls are fried, which gives them their bubbly, crispy exteriors. Meanwhile, yummy spring rolls may be baked or fried, & are often not cooked at all apart from their filling. 

Filling: Spring rolls are filled with fresh organic vegetables, whereas egg rolls are usually filled with a mixture of savory meat and vegetables. 

Surely, there are really no certain rules when it comes to making popular Chinese appetizers. As for what spring rolls & egg rolls have many things in common - aside from being super yummy! - is that both of the rolls are served with a dipping mixture of sauces. Sweet sauces, spicy sauces, or mixture of the two are always a good way to go.

What Is In a Spring Roll? 

What is in a Chinese spring roll comes down to the type of roll that it is. A garden spring roll, let’s say, will be filled with a variety of fresh veggies such as carrots, bamboo shoots, fresh bell pepper, & cabbage. And more varieties of savory spring spring rolls tend to be filled with meat or chicken with vegetables – most likely pork, chicken, or shrimp. 

What Is In an Egg Roll? 

Like all the spring rolls, the filling of an egg roll is mostly up to the cook’s interpretation, but there are some basic guidelines. Because egg rolls have much thicker wrappers, it’s essential to fill them with ingredients that can stand up to it in terms of both texture and their flavor. 

That is why, unlike spring rolls, delicious egg rolls always have cooked fillings, & almost always have meat. Vegetable filled egg rolls can be equally hearty though, with a cooked mixture of savory veggies such as cabbage, celery & onion, plus lets of seasoning. 

Origin of Spring Roll and Egg Roll 

According to records, before the famous Tang Dynasty (from 618 – 907), every individual made a sort of thin pancake with flour on the day of 'the Arrival of Spring'. People started to put them in a dish and added some special vegetables and fresh fruits. 

This was then called the 'spring dish' (in Chinese: 春盘). It was sent to relatives and close friends as a spring present & blessing. In the Chinese Tang Dynasty, the 'spring dish' was simply decorated with carrots & celery by the poor, while it had varieties of additions in the rich families. 

There were special sauces, baked and salted meats, varieties of other fried dishes, and spinach, chives, beansprouts, bean vermicelli, & eggs. In the Song Dynasty, the 'delicious spring dish' served in the majestic imperial palace was even more luxurious. 

In the Ming & Qing dynasties (from 1367 - 1911), with the development of cookery skills, chefs rolled the traditional old pancakes into mignon spring rolls. 

They were not only loved by common people, but were also popular in the palace. The exact history of the egg roll is not exactly clear. Some famous food historians believe the egg roll actually evolved from the spring roll, which is a bit smaller, lighter roll with a wrapper made of special rice paper. 

They think the egg roll dates back to old times in the southern China region, where it developed as part of Cantonese food and cuisine.

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