Kanako's Kitchen

Harumaki: Japanese Style Spring Rolls

Posted in main dish, Recipe by Kanako Noda on November 9, 2009

spring rollThis old Chinese restaurant favorite is already a hit in the west. In Japan, though, spring rolls long since made the jump from restaurant food to home cooking.

Though the basic package is always more or less the same, each family has its own recipe for the filling. Here, I show you the way my mom used to make it, with glass noodles instead of vegetables.

Whatever you put inside, the thing that makes a great spring roll is simple: the contrast between a soft filling inside and crunchy pastry outside. You can play around with the filling, so long as the result is soft.

What you get is Harumaki, a tasty treat absolutely everybody loves.

There are a lot of steps in this recipe, but don’t be put off: this is actually really easy to make. In fact, because it uses no eggs, no flour and no bread crumbs, Harumaki one of the least messy ways to make a good fried dinner. Give it a try!

spring roll pastryIngredients (makes 24 spring rolls):


For the rolls

  • Spring roll pastry sheets – you can buy these frozen at any Asian store
  • Beef – 100 grams
  • Shiitake mushrooms – one dried one
  • Bok choi (Chinese cabbage) – one medium one
  • Glass noodles – 150 grams (dry)
  • Onion – one medium one
  • Oyster sauce – three tablespoons
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking oil – two tablespoons
  • Optional: Carrot – 1/3rd of a carrot

For the sauce (Optional)

  • Soy sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Japanese mustard or Dijon mustard


A few hours before cooking, take the spring roll pastries out of the freezer and let them defrost. Don’t use the microwave for this!

glass noodlesPrepare the filling

  • Put the shiitake mushroom under hot water to recompose
  • Separately, put the glass noodles under hot water to recompose
  • Chop the beef into thin strips.
    Discard the shiitake’s stem and chop the cap into small bits.
    Julienne the onion.
    Chop the bok choi into small bits, separating the white part from the green part.
  • Cut up the glass noodles using kitchen scissors

leave glass noodles under water beef bok choi and onion

ingredients cut cut noodles click to enlarge

Prepare the sauce

In Japan, spring rolls are usually dipped in this very easy to make sauce:

  • Mix together equal parts vinegar and soy sauce. Stir.

Cook the filling

  1. Heat cooking oil in a large frying pan
  2. Brown the meat
  3. Add onion, shiitake and the white part of the bok choi, stir fry
  4. When the onion becomes translucent, add the green part of the bok choi and the noodles, stir fry.
  5. Season with salt and pepper
  6. Add oyster sauce, stir well, and taste for seasoning. At this point, you should tend towards the salty end of the scale.
  7. Turn down the heat.

stir fry beef add vegetables add bok choi

add glass noodles add oyster sauce filling

click to enlarge

Make the spring rolls

  1. Tear off a pastry sheet from the pack slowly, being careful not to rip it.
  2. Examine the pastry carefully. Notice it has a rough side and a smooth side. The smooth side goes on the outside, the rough side is the inside.
  3. Place the sheet in front of you on a counter, with the rough-side on top.
  4. With a teaspoon, place some of the filling by the bottom corner of the pastry
  5. Turn over the bottom of the pastry to cover the filling
  6. Turn over the two sides, making a kind of envelope shape. Watch your angles! You want 90 degree angles in your bottom corners.
  7. Start rolling from the bottom up.
  8. Make the top half of the pastry wet with water. This will make the pastry sticky.
  9. Continue rolling until you close the pastry. Be careful to close up the spring roll as well as possible.

ready to roll put filling on the pastry fold the one side

fold the other side too start to roll continue rolling

click to enlarge

Fry the spring rolls

  1. Heat a good quantity of oil over a medium flame in a large cooking pan
  2. Fry the rolls until the outside of the pastry gets that nice golden brown color. (Remember, the filling is already cooked, so you don’t need to worry about undercooked filling.)
  3. Place fried spring rolls on newsprint to get rid of excess fat.

fry spring rolls frying fried spring rolls

click to enlarge

Serve hot with dipping sauce. If you like, you can add a little bit of mustard (either Japanese or Dijon mustard is fine) to the dipping sauce at table.

The truth is that Chinese food is very popular in Japan these days. So, last week, we had these spring rolls as part of a “Japanese-style Chinese dinner” – along with Japanese-style Chinese fried rice and Japanese-style Chinese pork and cabbage.


chinese dinnerItadakimasu!


3 Responses

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  1. Diana in NYC said, on September 4, 2010 at 1:18 am

    wow this looks delicious. i am definitely going to china town tomorrow and buying all the asian ingredients i need to make your recipes. any chance we can get your recipe for that delicious Japanese-style Chinese fried rice and Japanese-style Chinese pork. it looks ahhh-mayzing. thank you for posting this. 🙂

    • kanako said, on September 4, 2010 at 9:18 am

      Hi Diana,
      this spring roll is a big hit among my friends and I make it often when I have guets. I’ll put the recipe Japanese-style Chinese fried rice and Japanese-style Chinese pork in the future!

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