Spring Rolls with Mint, Pork and Green Apple with Spicy Vinegar-Mint Syrup

July  3, 2012
3 Ratings
  • Makes 12 -13 rolls
Author Notes

I first thought of these during the spring alliums contest. However, the spring alliums I had in mind, namely garlic scapes, never reached my fair shores. At least my local Whole Foods never called me. No matter, I was excited to try them sans spring alliums and happy that they were as good as I had imagined. As an added bonus, everyone in my family -- gf hubby, tomato bandit and picky kid included -- loved them. If you have extra syrup, it makes a mean martini. Simply add 2 ounces of your favorite gin (I used Aviation), plus 1 T of the syrup, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a martini glass. I call it the Do-Over Martini, for those days that you would care not to remember. Like yesterday for me. These make forgetting easy.

Test Kitchen Notes

Gingeroot's Spring rolls with mint, pork and green apple do their main ingredient proud. The minty pork filling is rolled with mint in a crunchy rice paper envelope, and bolstered with a sweet and tangy mint syrup. The herb proves its dexterity in each variation. To take it one step further, we ate them Vietnamese style, wrapped in lettuce with more mint and whole basil leaves. It seems that writing this review has triggered a craving; back to the store for more rice paper!   —Erik Hellman

What You'll Need
  • For the syrup
  • ½ cup distilled white vinegar
  • ¼ cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 Thai bird chili or Hawaiian chili or other similarly spicy chile
  • ¼ cup mint leaves, packed
  • For the spring rolls
  • 10 ounces 10 ounces ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, peeled, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 ounces green apple, peeled and diced (about 1/3 cup plus 2 T)
  • 1/3 cup mint leaves, packed and cut into chiffonade
  • 12-13 large mint leaves
  • 12-13 pieces of square rice paper (mine were about 6 ½ “ x 6 ½“)
  • Canola oil for frying
  1. For the syrup
  2. Combine vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan.
  3. Coarsely chop the chili and discard stem. Add to pan (seeds and all). Try not to handle the seeds – use gloves if desired.
  4. Tear and rub mint leaves together with your fingers as you add them to the pan.
  5. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and allow mixture to reduce by half (about 10-12 minutes). Remove pan from heat and set aside until ready to serve. It will thicken as it cools. Before serving, strain out solids. Drizzle over spring rolls.
  1. For the spring rolls
  2. Heat a 10” skillet over medium heat. Add pork and brown, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon. Depending on the fat content of your pork, you may have to pour off some of the fat. You want your meat to be moist, but not swimming in fat. When all the meat has browned, add minced garlic and ginger, stirring and cooking until fragrant.
  3. Add fish sauce and cook for a minute more, moving mixture around to combine.
  4. Remove meat mixture to a glass bowl and let it cool for a minute.
  5. Fold in green apple and sliced mint.
  6. Set up your rolling station. You’ll need a plate, a square baking pan (8 in) and a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Situate your bowl of filling near the baking sheet.
  7. Place the 12 pieces of rice paper on the plate. Fill the baking pan halfway with the warmest water from your tap (warmer than tepid, but cool enough to put your hand in without burning).
  8. Working one at a time, dip a piece of rice paper into your pan of water. Carefully flip the paper repeatedly with your hands. Within 10-15 seconds, it should go from brittle to pliable – like a strong, wet paper towel. Make sure the edges are softened, so that your filled roll will stick to itself rather than pull apart. Lay the softened paper on your lined baking pan. Spread 1 ½ Tablespoons of your filling about one inch in from the side facing you (see photo). Top filling with a mint leaf and then carefully fold up edge over filling. Fold each side over towards the center and confidently but delicately, tightly roll the rest of the roll until you reach the end. Place roll seam side down on parchment. Repeat with the remaining rice paper pieces and filling, changing water (rice papers are easier to soften in warmer water) at least once, until finished. Make sure rolls are not touching, so they don’t stick together. Cover rolls with a damp paper towel. *NOTE: If your rice paper has a hole or rip in it, make sure you orient your square so the hole is covered by a layer of the rice paper. A hole in the top of the spring roll will open up when fried.
  9. Heat ½-inch canola oil in a Dutch oven or similar pan until it reaches 340° F. I have found that frying these at a slightly lower temperature for a little longer reduces the chance of exploding spring rolls (let’s just say that at 375° F, I had nearly 50% of my rolls explode while frying). Add up to three rolls, one at a time, with long chopsticks (or other suitable utensil) and fry until firm and golden, about two minutes, flipping halfway through. As you remove each spring roll, tap on the edge of pan to remove excess oil. Drain on paper towels on the baking sheet. Repeat until done.
  10. Serve hot spring rolls drizzled with Vinegar-Mint syrup immediately. Enjoy!
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See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • deanna1001
  • Fairmount_market
  • krusher
  • hardlikearmour
  • boulangere

Recipe by: gingerroot

My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love. Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.

16 Reviews

deanna1001 July 7, 2012
Fabulous! Making these...would you have used the scapes in place of the garlic? (I still have some scapes in a vase....)
gingerroot July 9, 2012
Thanks, deanna1001! Sorry for the belated reply - I'm not getting consistent notifications. I'd love to hear your thoughts, especially if you try these with garlic scapes. My thought was to use them in place of the garlic, and maybe add in with the mint and apple. However, since I've never had them, I was planning on experimenting to see what tasted the best.
deanna1001 July 10, 2012
I made these last night. Holy cow they are good! I did the recipe as written (testing) but will try it sometime with scapes. I think the scapes would add some crunch. I might also experiment with adding a little shredded cabbage to the pork as well. But as written it was divine! Thanks. I'm having martinis tonight...
gingerroot July 10, 2012
So glad you enjoyed them, deanna1001! Thanks so much for letting me know - you've made my day. Enjoy the martini, I was pleasantly surprised!!
deanna1001 July 10, 2012
And you've made my evening. A lousy day is now fine...the martini worked! Spicy and delish! I left the ice in it to slow me down...there's enough syrup for 1 more...hmmm...
gingerroot July 16, 2012
Hooray! I'm happy the martini made up for a so-so day. I'm not getting all my email notifications, so apologies for the belated reply.
Fairmount_market July 4, 2012
These sound so delicious. I've found that spring rolls are a hit with my little picky eaters too.
gingerroot July 9, 2012
Thank you, Fairmount_market! It always amazes me what my son will eat and enjoy when disguised...: )
krusher July 4, 2012
What a terrific layering of flavors. I have had a lifelong thing for fresh spring rolls. I shall be trying these for sure.
gingerroot July 4, 2012
Thanks so much, krusher! Apple and pork are a lifelong pair and I love all the flavors of Southeast Asia. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you try these.
hardlikearmour July 3, 2012
Wow! These sound fantastic - love the apple with the mint and the pork. The martini idea sounds AMAZING!!!
gingerroot July 4, 2012
Thanks, hardlikearmour! I ate way too many of these trying to get consistent frying results. The martini is so good - I highly recommend trying it, especially with Aviation.
boulangere July 3, 2012
Lovely flavor combinations.
gingerroot July 4, 2012
Thanks so much, boulangere.
meganvt01 July 3, 2012
yum! this looks great!
gingerroot July 4, 2012
Thanks so much, meganvt01!