Spring Roll

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

spring roll (plus egg roll and lumpia, which are sometimes the same thing and sometimes not, but always closely related), a snack or item of finger-food, usually consisting of a wrapper of very thin pastry or pancake around a savoury filling.

In the full Chinese name, which transliterates as chun juan, the third and fourth written characters mean literally ‘spring roll’, because the original filling was of lightly cooked spring vegetables, wrapped in a skin that was then quickly deep fried so that the crisp textures of wrapper and filling contrasted with and complemented each other. During the Tang dynasty, such chun juan or spring cakes were eaten to celebrate the sowing of the new year’s corn in early February, though it was many centuries later that spring rolls adopted their modern sausage-like form and size—usually about 5 cm (2") long.