Harumaki, a Japanese spring roll, is a light finger food often served in East Asia. It's light, crunchy and full of flavour when you take a bite. The crispy snack was initially introduced to Japan by the Chinese and adapted for local tastes.
This Japanese dish is extremely versatile as you can make it with any fillings you like. But, we do have some easy cooking tips to make these delicious snacks simple to cook.
So, here's our harumaki recipe for you to start making this crowd pleaser at home.
- What is harumaki made of?
- Japanese spring roll vs Chinese spring roll
- What does Japanese spring roll taste like?
- Harumaki Calories
- Japanese spring roll fillings
- Harumaki Ingredients
- Vegetarian Harumaki Ingredients
- Gluten-Free Harumaki
- Nama Harumaki
- How to prepare Japanese spring rolls
- Harumaki Cooking Tips
- Harumaki Dipping Sauce
- Harumaki Recipe (Japanese Spring Roll)
- Harumaki Variations
What is harumaki made of?
Harumaki spring roll is made of pork, chicken and vegetables wrapped in a thin, stretchy skin using flour, water and salt. Usually, we also add chopped mushrooms, carrots and green onions to add flavour.
However, you can put anything you want, as long as you manage to snugly wrap all the ingredients inside. Get creative!
Harumaki pronunciation has four syllables, “huh-roo-muh-key”. The word itself means 'spring rolls' directly translated from Japanese to English.
Japanese spring roll vs Chinese spring roll
The key difference between Japanese and Chinese spring rolls is that traditional Japanese ones tend not to have garlic.
However, most Harumaki roll ingredients are similar to Chinese spring rolls with a combination of vegetables, meat, and glass noodles wrapped in a thin pastry and then fried.
Another way it differs from the Chinese version is because the filling is slightly thick due to the addition of potato starch to make a thick gravy.
Furthermore, since there are no eggs in the recipe, the spring roll skin is thinner and more elastic than egg rolls.
However, if you cannot find any store-bought versions, you can still use egg roll skins. The taste will be denser and less chewy, but it still works.
What does Japanese spring roll taste like?
Harumaki tastes light and crispy. However, it's also slightly wet due to the gravy combined with the ingredients.
Compared to other types of Japanese spring rolls, the skin tears apart quickly, so you should eat them fresh from the fryer.
Our harumaki recipe has about 180 calories per piece. While it is certainly calorie dense, you get various nutrients from the range of ingredients in each piece!
Japanese spring roll fillings
There are many different ingredients that you can include in a harumaki roll. You can even make vegan or vegetarian versions, depending on your preference. Here is a list of typical ingredients you can find in restaurant versions:
- spring onions
To make Harumaki, you need store-bought wrappers, seasoning sauces, meat, and any vegetables you want in your Japanese spring roll. Here is our essential list of ingredients for the dish:
- Harumaki wrapper
- Glass noodles
- Meat (ground pork, shredded chicken or minced shrimp)
- Vegetables (Carrots, cabbages, green onions, mushrooms)
- Seasoning (Sesame oil, oyster sauce, soy sauce)
- Vegetable oil
You can make your own wrappers with wheat flour and water. But that can take some time. So instead, buying spring roll wrappers from an online or grocery store will work.
Look for 8-inch or around 22cm size wrappers to get the best results. And remember, they're not the same as egg roll wrappers.
Vegetarian Harumaki Ingredients
If you prefer to make Harumaki vegetarian, you can try a wide variety of vegetables. Instead of meat, you can also add tofu as a replacement protein. Include raw fresh vegetables without seasoning. Here are some ingredients that are typically used in vegetarian Japanese spring rolls:
- Dried shiitake mushrooms
- Yellow onion
- Bean sprouts
If you notice, these are vegetables that usually grow in Spring. That's because this Asian snack is traditionally made in Japan to eat in the Spring and enjoy the seasonal produce.
They also have crunchy, dry textures and are milder in taste than other vegetables. Therefore, choosing different options does not significantly affect flavour and texture.
However, we do not recommend using juicy vegetables such as cherry tomatoes. This will make the filling of your vegetable Harumaki too wet as potato starch is added to make the gravy inside.
Japanese spring rolls are made with wheat flour, so they are not gluten-free. However, if you have a strict diet, you can use wrappers made of rice flour to make your harumaki gluten-free.
You will need 1 tablespoon rice flour and 1tbsp potato starch, mixed with 1 ½ tablespoon water. Add salt to taste.
It's easy to make rice paper to use for your Harumaki wrapper. Just follow the steps below:
- Whisk rice flour, potato starch, water and salt together.
- Cover a plate with plastic wrap when it turns into a gluey paste.
- Stretch the paste across until it fits tightly.
Another version of Japanese spring rolls is Nama Harumaki. Nama means raw in Japanese, so the filling usually consists of mostly raw ingredients.
The Harumaki wrapper in this nama version is not deep fried. Therefore, they resemble more like rice paper rolls. Instead of meat, cooks would use ingredients such as garlic, ginger, coriander, or mint leaves. Usually, the Japanese version does not include carrot or bean sprouts to make it easier to chew.
A light sauce made of Yuzu, sunflower oil, and rice vinegar is drizzled over the snack. This version comes from Vietnam, which the Japanese adapted.
How to prepare Japanese spring rolls
Before you start cooking, prepare all the ingredients on hand and ready to use, as the process is time-sensitive.
First, be sure to prepare the filling beforehand. After they're cooked, you'll need to let the mixture cool and dry out before forming the Harumaki roll. This step prevents holes in the wrappers. You can speed up the cooling process by spreading the filling onto a metal tray and then putting the tray on a bigger tray filled with cold water. But be sure not to let any water get into the mixture.
You must make sure the filling is ready before you wrap them. This is because the wrapper dries out very quickly if you leave it in the open. So, if you leave your wrappers open, they will get stiff and will not be easy to use.
Next, once your spring roll fillings dry thoroughly, divide them into ten even portions. This makes it easier to make your rolls about the same size.
Afterwards, it's time to wrap the filling tightly inside the wrapper. It's best to wrap the roll tightly to prevent air bubbles. This will make sure the filling will not burst when fried. Not thoroughly drying the filling will also cause the Japanese spring roll to explode.
Lastly, start frying at a low temperature (around 120℃) to remove the moisture from the wrapper. Do this for 5-10 minutes. And finish with a quick fry at a high temperature (around 160°C / 320°F) to make it beautifully crispy. However, if you go above 160°C, you risk burning your snack.
Harumaki Cooking Tips
If you've done a trial run for this Japanese snack and it didn't turn out well, don't give up. Here are some cooking tips to help you on your next attempt.
Why are my rolls not crispy?
To make the Japanese spring roll crispy, you must let your ingredients dry thoroughly. Then you must finish your fry at a high heat of 160°C / 320°F. Anything less, and the wrapper turns soggy.
However, it would help if you started at a lower temperature and gradually increased it. Because the filling needs time to dry out, or else the roll will trap the moisture inside, making it very soggy.
After frying, space each roll out on a paper towel, drain the grease and let them cool. The towel will absorb excess moisture, helping the snack stay nice and crisp.
Why does my roll burst while frying?
If your Japanese spring roll bursts, it means you did not cool the filling enough. Or you did not roll the wrapper tightly enough.
As a result, the air left inside will cause the ingredients to heat up, expand and explode. So the solution is simple: dry the filling and wraps the skin tightly when packing in the elements.
Why are there air bubbles on the spring roll wrapper?
When you immediately start frying the snack without heating it slightly, the water will expand immediately.
This process causes the wrapper to swell and harden, so you'll get air bubbles.
So to prevent this, start at around 100 -120°C and slowly turn the heat up. But be careful that it's not too hot. Once the wrapper looks golden brown, you've got the right temperature.
Can I freeze the Japanese spring roll?
If you want to keep them instead of eating every single one immediately, you can! You can freeze the cooked Japanese spring rolls for up to 3 months.
First, let them cool down after cooking, then place them in an airtight container. Then, put the container in the freezer.
Harumaki Dipping Sauce
We believe the best way to eat your Harumaki roll is with a light dipping sauce! It's super easy to make and helps to elevate your dish.
The Japanese traditionally use mustard and soy sauce, avoiding thick dips such as sweet chilli sauce or plum sauce. You'll need:
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- Two tablespoons of hoisin sauce
- One tablespoon water
- One minced clove of garlic
- One teaspoon of chopped green onions
- ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon minced ginger
Once you're ready to make the refreshing dip, follow the simple steps below:
- Combine everything in a mixing bowl.
- Add additional hoisin sauce to thicken the mixture.
- Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
- Before serving, heat the mixture in a small saucepan. Serve warm.
Harumaki Recipe (Japanese Spring Roll)
- 5 shiitake mushroom sliced
- 200 grams ground pork
- 125 grams glass noodles
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2-3 green onions chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 8 sheets spring roll skin
- 2 tbsps potato starch mixed with water
- 1½ cups vegetable oil frying
- Gather the ingredients and prepare the harumaki filling. Soak the glass noodles in hot water until soft. Drain water and cut the noodles. Let it cool. Chop all the vegetables.
- Heat a medium skillet with one teaspoon of sesame oil. Add ground pork and cook thoroughly. Add shiitake mushrooms and carrots to the pork. Cook until the vegetables are soft. Add seasoning. Take off the heat and let it cool.
- Mix the pork, glass noodles, and chopped green onions. Let the mixture cool. Divide the filling into 8 or 10 portions.
- Take your Japanese spring roll skin and cover it with plastic wrap or a moist paper towel to prevent them from drying. Prepare the starch mixture and filling.
- Place one sheet with the corner pointing towards you. Spread the starch mixture thinly on the skin. Place one serving of filling closer to the corner and fold it over. Fold the left and right corners towards the centre. Using your fingertip, apply the starch mix to the final corner to seal. Cover in plastic until all done.
- Heat oil in a frying pan to 120°C (250 ℉). Gently fry the harumaki roll, turning it occasionally. Increase the heat slightly. Fry until lightly brown. Place your roll on a paper towel to drain excess oil. Cut them into desired sizes and serve with dip.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
Of course, this versatile snack has different variations. It's interesting to see how people have customised it worldwide to suit their preferences. Here are some other versions of this popular snack:
- Nama harumaki
- Banana harumaki
- Harumaki de camarão (shrimp)
- Harumaki de queijo
Are you looking for more light snacks? Other Japanese dishes such as kappa maki, Kani salad and gunkan maki are also easy to recreate and delicious to eat. You can enjoy making these finger foods with your guests or family.
If you need more inspiration, follow Honest Food Talks on Instagram @honestfoodtalks. Happy cooking and eating!
The recipe works well if frying with air fryer too if anyone wondering! Mine turned out crispy and less oily (I just brushed some oil on the outer wrapper before popping it in the air fryer)