When I was in my pre-teen years and my brother in high school, I remember us wanting to make an attempt at homemade eggrolls. I remember how excited we were to go out and buy Five-Spice and actually use it in a recipe!!!! I am from a very small town in Michigan (actually not even town – technically a village) so Five-Spice was a very big deal for us. Don’t worry, we have greatly expanded both our culinary and geographical horizons since then. Our eggroll expedition was less than stellar, hell even less than average. The kitchen was a mess with frying oil splattered all over and we were left with soggy, funny tasting eggrolls. That was a big blow to our “exotic” cooking ambitions. I consumed only restaurant and premade eggrolls from then on…until just recently during my Asian Cuisine Exposure Therapy!
As I mentioned in my Kung Pao post, I went to Use Real Butter for baseline recipes, and just as with the Kung Pao, I had problems finding all the proper ingredients and ended up improvising with what I had, adjusting to my particular tastes. I guess I should confess it here and now: I adore garlic and I adore ginger. I almost always increase the amounts of these two glorious ingredients from what original recipes recommend. I also love having my hands smell of ginger and garlic for days after I chop them. So, word of warning, if you are not a garlic and ginger fanatic, you may want to reduce the amounts I use.
I didn’t have enough cabbage so I used more bean sprouts, mushrooms, carrots, and added water chestnuts. I could not find black mushrooms in the store, so I replaced then with Wood Ear mushrooms which I could find and are apparently a popular ingredient in China…so said the back of the Wood Ear package. WARNING! The dried mushrooms have to be rehydrated in warm water for about 15-20 minutes before use. As for the frying, it was actually very easy, and I found it worked best in a Dutch oven. The high sides protected me from splattering oil. As for the result…amazing! My boyfriend said that it was the best eggroll he has ever had and I think he ate a greater amount of eggrolls than he did Kung Pao chicken. They really were just fantastic and will be made again and again.
Adapted from Use Real Butter
Vegetable oil for deep frying and sautéing
2 cups scallions (green onions), julienned
3 cups napa cabbage, shredded
2 cans bean sprouts
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp rice wine or dry sherry
2 tbsps ginger, minced
3 tbsps garlic, minced
1 cup bamboo shoots, julienned
1 can water chestnuts chopped
15 Wood ear mushrooms, rehydrated and julienned
3 large carrots, shredded
6 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp water
2 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp cornstarch
25 spring roll wrappers
1 egg, beaten
1. Mix the soy sauce, water, sesame oil, and cornstarch together in a cup. Set aside.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Sauté scallions, bean sprouts, and cabbage with salt and rice wine (or sherry) until cabbage is softened. Remove from heat. Drain off excess liquid and set aside.
3. Heat the garlic and ginger in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in the same frying pan. When fragrant, sauté the mushrooms, carrots, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots.
4. Add the cooked cabbage and sprouts. Pour in the soy sauce mixture and combine the ingredients until well-coated. Remove from heat.
5. When mixture is cool, place 2-3 tablespoons of filling near one corner of the spring roll wrapper and roll/wrap on the diagonal, folding the sides in tidily. Rub a little bit of egg mixture on the final corner to seal the spring roll wrapper.
6. Fry in oil at 350°F in a Dutch oven for a few minutes or until golden. Remove from oil and let rest on a cooling rack (not paper towels). Serve hot.
7. If you are not going to eat all the eggrolls, DO NOT fry the extras and follow the storage note below.
Note on storage: This recipe makes a lot of eggrolls. If this is for a big dinner or party you will be fine because there is no way you will have leftovers. However, if you do not plan on eating all of them, set the un-fried eggrolls you aren’t going to use on a piece of wax paper on a cookie tray. Make sure none of the eggrolls are touching, then place the tray in the freezer for about 30-40 minutes until the eggrolls skins have frozen a bit and are no longer sticky. You can then put them in plastic containers or bags and place back in the freezer. If you just put them in the storage containers right away, they will all stick together and you will have a giant eggroll mess. Make sure they defrost completely before you fry them, otherwise you could end up with a potentially dangerous oil explosion on your hands.