A delicious Japanese take on the classic Chinese spring roll, these harumaki are made with pork, vegetables and rice vermicelli wrapped in a crispy shell and served with Japanese mustard and soy sauce. They're the perfect appetizer or party food!
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What is Harumaki?
Harumaki (春巻き) is the Japanese word for "spring roll". It's a direct translation with "haru" meaning spring, and "maki" meaning to roll. You might recognize "maki" from "makizushi" (巻きずし) in other words, sushi rolls!
Harumaki in Japan is pretty similar to the classic Chinese Spring roll, it's simply adjusted a little to suit Japanese tastes. In terms of the fillings, pretty much anything can go in harumaki. As long as it's wrapped with the classic spring roll skin, it's harumaki.
One point that makes Japanese spring rolls a little different is the fact that they are usually served with Japanese mustard (karashi) and soy sauce rather than a thick dipping sauce like sweet chili sauce or plum sauce, for example.
When it comes to the harumaki fillings, pretty much every family has a different recipe. That's the beauty of making your own spring rolls right? You can add any fillings you like.
Harumaki as I know it usually contains the following:
- Mushrooms (Shiitake)
- Bamboo shoots
- Piman (small green peppers)
- Japanese glass noodles called "Harusame" - a type of rice vermicelli
Of course, this is not an exclusive list, but these are the ingredients I associate with a Japanese style spring roll.
Tips for Rolling Harumaki
If you follow these tips, you can make perfect, uniform harumaki every time!
- Allow the filling to cool down before wrapping, this stops the wrappers from getting warm and soggy.
- Divide the filling into 10 portions before filling/rolling, that way all of the harumaki will be the same size.
- Use a paste of water/flour with a 2:1 ratio to seal the harumaki. This stops them from unrolling.
- Flatten the harumaki slightly, this will make them cook more evenly on each side because they won't be able to roll around in the oil.
- Fry in oil at 160°C / 320°F. This is high enough for a perfect crispy shell but not too high that it burns easily.
Harumaki make a great appetizer or party food. They can be made in advance and fried just before serving, perfect!
How to Roll Harumaki
Follow this step by step guide to roll the perfect Japanese harumaki!
- Set up
Start by laying the harumaki wrapper in front of you and then turning it 45 degrees so that it is a diamond shape.
- Add the filling
Place the filling horizontally, just below the centre.
- Seal the bottom
Take the bottom corner and pull it over the filling. Tuck it around the filling securely.
- Fold the edges
Fold the right and left sides at a 90 degree angle.
- Roll up
Roll the filling up, but make sure to leave space at the top.
- Wet the edges
In order to seal the harumaki, use a paste (2 tbsp water mixed with 1 tbsp plain flour) and spread it along the top edges.
- Seal the harumaki
Roll the harumaki up, the paste will help seal it. Press it gently to flatten it. (This prevents it from rolling around when you cook it.)
Common problems and solutions
There are some common problems when making harumaki at home such as:
- Burst wrappers
- Holes in wrappers
- Gets soggy quickly
- Air bubbles on wrappers
So here, I will explain the reasons for the problems and how to solve them.
This problem is probably the most annoying problem and leaves a big mess around the stove.
The reasons can be either air was trapped inside while being rolled or the ingredients weren't cooled down enough when they were rolled in. The ingredients heat up first when they are fried, causing the ingredients to expand and explode.
Holes in wrappers
This problem can also happen either because the ingredients weren't cooled down enough or the ingredients inside were too watery.
If the inside contents come out, it not only looks bad, but also causes oil splashes, which can create a major cleaning duty and danger of getting oil burns. Nightmare!
If harumaki gets burnt, either the oil temperature is too high or it's frying for too long.
When frying spring rolls, it is desirable to start frying them at a low temperature and take them out as soon as they look golden brown.
Get soggy after a little while
This is rather a sad one especially for crispy-loving people like me. After a little while, harumaki becomes oily and not crispy anymore.
This can be explained by the temperature of the oil or preparation of the inside content. If you fry the spring rolls at a high temperature from the start, the moisture in the wrappers will not be fully released and the rolls will easily become sticky after frying.
Also, if the ingredients are not properly thickened during the preparation, water will be released from the ingredients, which will also cause the spring rolls to get soggy.
Air bubbles on wrappers
Air bubbles forming on the surface is one of the common problems when making harumaki. This is simply because of the high temperature of the oil. When the spring rolls are cooked in high temperature, the water in the wrapper expands all at once.
The swollen wrapper is fried and hardened in the hot oil, resulting in the formation of bubbles on the surface.
But this is mainly to do with the looks, so it's nothing major.
Tips and trickes to make happy Harumaki
With these in mind, I will explain some tips and tricks to make happy harumaki that doesn't require cleaning oil splashes or treating burns.
Don't leave the ingredients watery
To avoid explosions, cook the filling thoroughly to release the moisture, and thicken them with slurry at the end.
It is also important to avoid putting too many watery vegetables like cabbage or beansprouts, which can make the filling too watery overall.
If you use a lot of watery vegetables, you might want to consider adding more slurry to thicken it up.
The ingredients have to be cooled down properly
Cooling down the ingredients properly before wrapping prevents holes in the wrappers, therefore preventing explosions when they're added to the oil. Letting them cool also makes the filling thicker and easier to wrap, so this is a golden rule.
When it becomes cool enough, store it in the fridge until it's time to use.
I recommend making them the day before or when you have time.
When wrapping the ingredients, be sure to wrap them tightly to prevent air from getting in, as this can cause an explosion. The key is to press down on the skin while wrapping to release the air.
Also make sure there are no gaps in your wrapping.
From low temperature to high temperature
To make beautiful, crispy harumaki, it is important to start frying at a low temperature (Like 160℃) to remove the moisture from the wrappers. Then finish up with high temperature to make beautiful golden colour!