I love egg rolls. Ever since I was certain my egg allergy went away they’ve always been present whenever I eat Chinese food. The mere thought of the flaky, crunchy exterior with an indulgent juicy interior is enough to make my mouth water. So what’s an amateur cook to do? I had to try and make some myself. Of course after putting my co-op money to good use and buying myself a 12 inch wok. I love my wok…

NOTE: If you want these to be veggie spring rolls, simply leave out the pork.

Even though I’m fairly certain I got the wrong type of egg-roll wrappers, let me point out these were the most time consuming things I have ever made. That being said, I encourage all who wish to continue on to the recipe, as it is delicious. Also I’ll go ahead and admit that this recipe is based off the recipe you can find here: http://steamykitchen.com/13029-my-mothers-famous-chinese-egg-rolls-2.html. I felt the need to blog about these because I don’t feel the website has a very thorough explanation of how to do these (besides the rolling technique), and because I altered a few things.

Here it goes…

INGREDIENTS (makes 25):

25 Spring/Egg Roll Wrappers, defrosted unopened at room temperature for 45 minutes or in the refrigerator overnight **
1 tablespoon cornstarch (or flour) mixed with ¼ cup of cool water
Oil, for frying (You will need a depth of 1.5-2 inches of oil to fry these suckers in. Keep that in mind and buy extra oil.)
If you like, find delicious looking spring roll dipping sauce at the store. I wasn’t adventurous enough to try and make my own.

For the pork…
1 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
.25 teaspoon sugar
freshly ground black pepper

For the veggies…
1.5 cloves garlic
.25 head of cabbage
1.5 carrots
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
5 fresh shiitake mushrooms (or dried black mushrooms soaked overnight)
1 tablespoon cooking oil (canola, vegetable, peanut)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Freshly ground black pepper

**Make sure you get the egg roll wrappers that are in the frozen section. I made the mistake of getting these rice spring roll wrappers that were such a pain to work with. They tore left and right, and many exploded when I fried them.

Prepare the Pork

Begin by putting all of the ingredients for the pork in a bowl, wash your hands, and mash it all together. This is a great time to get out all of your anger/stress about the world. Set it aside as it needs to marinate like this for about 10 minutes.

Veggie Prep

Time to get out your favorite knife and start cutting things up! But first, think about what you see when you look into an egg roll you just ate half of. Are things in chunks? Teeny tiny little pieces? Nope! They’re in thin little shreds. Keep that in mind as you cut your veggies. Shred the cabbage (not too thin, as it cooks down), mushrooms (throw away the stems) and carrots. I know shredding carrots (cut into tiny strips) isn’t fun, but it’s definitely worth it. Finely chop the garlic. My three favorite smells are horses, boyfriend and ginger. While grating the ginger, I suggest breathing in as much as possible.

Cooking up a Storm

And now the wok comes in. Seriously, invest in a wok. I feel like I can do anything!

Put the wok over high heat, adding some cooking oil to coat the bottom. Pour in the pork, and watch it begin to cook. I used a spatula to stir it around, while also cutting large pieces (bigger than a pea) up. This has to fit inside a roll with veggies, so if the pieces are too big you’ll essentially have deep fried pork bites. Which don’t actually sound that bad…

After all of the pork has turned white on all sides, and cutting some pieces apart doesn’t show pink centers, pour the pork into a clean bowl and set aside. No need for washing the wok; all of these things are going together in the end anyway. Turn the heat to medium-low, and add a little oil, the garlic, cabbage, carrots, ginger and mushrooms and stir fry until the cabbage and carrots are pretty soft. Add the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and black pepper. Stir fry for about 30 seconds and then pour the pork back into the wok, while turning the heat to medium. Stir fry for about a minute, and then take off the heat and turn off the stove.

Scoop the stir-fry mixture into a colander, and let the juices drain. Scoop it into a cookie sheet with edges, spreading about until it fills the sheet (see picture below).

Pat down the stir-fry in the cookie sheet with a paper towel, to ensure all of the oil is gone. You see, oily filling apparently can make soggy egg rolls, and that would be a crime.

The mixture needs to cool for 15 minutes, so in the meantime get out your egg roll wrappers and get a space ready to wrap. I suggest a clean space for wrapping, and an adjacent large cookie sheet or counter area for putting wrapped egg rolls on. Keep in mind that depending on the wrappers you’ve chosen they might stick together so don’t stack or put your wrapped rolls too closely together.

Once everything is set up and the mixture is cool, it’s time to get wrapping. I suggest looking at http://steamykitchen.com/13029-my-mothers-famous-chinese-egg-rolls-2.html for wrapping tips, because they do an amazing job of explaining how to wrap egg rolls correctly. Only use an overflowing tablespoon of filling, or else the rolls will overflow and it will be hard to wrap. I also suggest making sure things like carrots aren’t sticking perpendicular to the direction in which you’re going to roll. They make nasty holes that will ruin and possibly explode your egg roll upon frying.

Now you’ve got your egg rolls ready, it’s time to deep fry them! Get the wok back out and fill with your cooking oil to a depth of 1.5 – 2 inches. The steamykitchen site says to “heat the oil to 350 degrees (F) or until a cube of bread will fry to golden brown within 10 seconds”, however I have neither a thermometer nor white bread (I eat already brown wheat bread). So I just decided to stick the heat somewhere in between medium and high (closer to medium) and go to town once things started simmering.

I could fry at most 3 egg rolls at once (they stick to the walls, each other, the spoon, etc…) while keeping my sanity, so I suggest doing 3 at most. I’m guessing the wrappers I used stuck to the spoon because the spoon got hot, so I kept a glass of ice water nearby to dip the spoon in every so often. Again, I used the wrong kind of wrappers so this might not happen to you.

Finally when the rolls are either golden brown, or hold their crisp cylindrical shape when held up with tongs or your spoon they are ready! Once you’ve fried them all, let them cool down on a wire rack, and pat the oil off with a paper towel. Finally, get out your dipping sauce  and enjoy!

Clean up on aisle 7

I decided to keep the oil in old spaghetti sauce/apple sauce jars in the fridge for later use. There’s so much of it and I have some unused chicken in the freezer 😉 If you don’t want to keep it though, DO NOT POUR IT DOWN THE DRAIN. You will have very unhappy pipes. Pour the oil into jars as if you were to keep it and put it in the fridge. When it’s cool, THEN feel free to pour it down the drain.