Egg Rolls: Baked or Fried?

Egg Rolls: One Baked, One Fried

The other day I had the notion to make some egg rolls. I hadn’t made them in a very long time and thought about making them for Chinese New Year, but time got away from me. Alexis became intrigued with the idea and wanted to help so one day last week we set out to make some egg rolls.

I decided to take the same basic egg roll and cook it two different ways to see what would happen. I have always been curious about baking an egg roll versus frying it, so this was the perfect time to do a little experiment to see what would happen. Curious? Check out the recipe below and see how it turned out!

What You’ll Need:
Oil for frying
Sesame oil
1/2 a small head of cabbage, chopped
1/2 a large bunch of bok choy, chopped
1/2 a large red onion, cut into thin strips
1 large carrot, shredded
1 leek, cut into strips
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Brown rice vinegar
Egg roll wrappers
A small bowl of cold water
A pastry or basting brush

If you want to bake your egg rolls preheat oven to 400 F.

If you want to fry your egg rolls heat oil to 375 F.

While oven or oil is heating prepare your vegetables.

Thinly slice onion:

Egg Rolls: Red Onion

Shred carrot:

Egg Rolls: Carrots

Chop Bok Choy:

Egg Rolls: Bok Choy

And cabbage:

Egg Rolls: Cabbage

And finally cut leek into strips:

Egg Rolls: Leeks

In a large pot add a little sesame oil and then add all your vegetables, a sprinkle of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of brown rice vinegar, stirring to coat:

Egg Rolls: Filling Ready to Cook

Saute, stirring often, until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and set aside. I actually moved the vegetables into another dish because Lex was going to be helping me and I didn’t want to risk burning her hands or fingers on the hot pot:

Egg Rolls: Filling Cooked

This step is up to you depending on whether you have a little helper.

Now you are ready to start putting together your egg rolls!

First lay your egg roll wrapper on point:

Egg Rolls: Ready for Filling

For those of you who aren’t sure what on point means, it means that your square looks like a diamond.

Place a spoonful of filling in the middle of your diamond:

Egg Rolls: Filling Ready

Bring the bottom point up to basically cover the filling:

Egg Rolls: Bringing Up the Point

Don’t worry if every single piece of the filling is covered. It doesn’t matter at this point.

Next bring in each side point and you’ll end up with something that looks a lot like an envelope:

Egg Rolls: Ready to Brush and Roll

Gently brush the top of the “envelope flap” with a little water:

Egg Rolls: Brushing Top with Water

Lex got a little generous with her water brushing here, but hey she was having fun and it all works out in the end! ;oP

Gently roll the bottom of the “envelope” until a roll is formed:

Egg Rolls: Rolled

The water helps seal the “envelope” and make the roll stay put while cooking.

Now you decided if you want to bake or fry!

For baking place your rolls on a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper:

Egg Rolls: Ready to Bake or Fry

Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown:

Egg Rolls: Baked

And now a look at the inside:

Egg Rolls: Inside of the Baked Eggroll

You’ll see in a moment that insides of the fried roll look much the same.

Now if you’d rather fry!

Place egg roll in the heated oil and cook for 2-3 minutes turning often until golden brown:

Egg Rolls: Fried

Place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain:

Egg Rolls: Fried

And the insides?:

Egg Rolls: Inside of the Fried Egg Roll

And as you can see much the same as the baked.

So the verdict of which was better?

While both were really good, the frying really does add something to the flavor over all! However the oven baked version were good as well for when you want a slightly healthier option.

Notes: You can freeze these rolls after cooking for use later. You can also add in other veggies. Mushrooms would be fabulous! Or how about some bamboo shoots? The possibilities are endless!

Dan Dan Noodles

dandannoodles

This week I have several guest bloggers lined up. I hope you enjoy! Up first is fellow Marylander Rachel from Coconut Lime. Be sure and stop by and say hello!

Note: I meant to have this go live this morning, but we set off on our adventures and I completely forgot! Next guest entry up on Wednesday!

Ingredients:
10-12 oz ground chicken or pork
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 inch knob ginger, grated
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1 cup chicken or pork broth
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons (jarred) pickled mustard greens*
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon chili oil
1 tablespoon black vinegar
1 tablespoon ground Sichuan peppercorn

canola oil for frying

to serve:
roasted peanuts for (optional)
chopped green onions
16 oz fresh Chinese egg noodles (cook according to package instructions)

Directions:
Heat some oil in a wok or large skillet. Add the chicken/pork, onion and light soy sauce, and cook through, stiring to break up any large chunks. Add the remaining ingredients and stirfry until cooked through and all ingredients are evenly distributed. Add noodles and stirfry for 1 or 2 minutes to coat. Serve in bowls sprinkled with additional peanuts or green onion.

*Look for these at Chinese or more generally Asian grocery stores.

Yield: 4 meal-sized servings

My thoughts:
Dan Dan Noodles are a street food (dan dan refers to the pole that was used to cart the noodles around on the streets) in China but I love making them serve as a whole meal. Normally I make the noodles with pork but this time I had ground chicken on hand so I used that instead. I think the chicken is just almost as tasty, both absorb the flavors well. If you want you can whisk together the dark soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame and chile oils, vinegar and peppercorns ahead of time and let them sit at room temperature until you are ready to use them-the rest of the dish cooks up quite fast so it is good idea to have them ready to go.

Dan dan noodles are what I think of as “stealth” spicy-they don’t seem spicy when you are eating them but afterward-thanks to the peppercorns and chile oil-you realize your lips are tingling.

A note about those optional peanuts: peanuts are present in most Stateside versions of dan dan noodles but are not strictly traditional. I personally can take or leave them in the dish so feel free to adjust to your taste.

Lettuce Wraps

Asian Lettuce Wraps

For a while now I’ve been hearing a lot about lettuce wraps or cups. I haven’t tried either, but after taking a look at them I figured they wouldn’t be that hard to make! And you know what? They aren’t! This recipe is a fabulous, healthy meal in one that you can whip up quickly (after you marinate) and enjoy in no time. Pop the marinate in the fridge in the morning and in 20 minutes or so you’ve got dinner that night! How easy is that?

What You’ll Need:
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine
2 scallions chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound of flank steak, cut into strips
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1/3 cup of low sodium soy sauce
2/3 cup of cold water
1 bell pepper, cut into strips
1 large portabella mushrooms cap, cut in half and then into strips
Romaine or bib lettuce leaves
Cooked brown rice
Toothpicks

First you want to get the meat marinating. I like to do this in a canning jar:

Asian Lettuce Wraps: Ready to Marinate

First add garlic, red pepper flakes, ginger, scallions and black pepper to the bottom of the jar.

Next add steak strips and cover with water, soy sauce and add the sesame oil. (Note: You really want to make sure you use a low sodium soy sauce or this will be so salty you won’t want to eat it!)

Give the jar a shake and place in the fridge for at least four hours. Give it a shake now and then to mix things up, or ignore it entirely. It can be done either way.

When you’re ready to make the wraps make sure you make your rice and have it ready to go first. Depending on the variety of brown rice that you choose it might take 20 minutes, or even up to 50 minutes to cook.

Add the mushrooms and bell peppers to the bottom of a large skillet:

Asian Lettuce Wraps: Ready for Marinated Meat

Next pour in the marinade mixture from the glass jar:

Asian Lettuce Wraps: Cooking

Cook until the marinade is absorbed, the vegetables are tender and the meat is done:

Asian Lettuce Wraps: Filling

Once your filling is done it’s time to make your wrap!

First you need a piece of lettuce:

Asian Lettuce Wraps: Lettuce

I used romaine. You might have to break the spine a bit to get it to roll as well depending on the leaf.

Next add 1/4-1/3 cup of brown rice to the middle of each leaf:

Asian Lettuce Wraps: Rice

And then add a bit of filling and begin the rolling process:

Asian Lettuce Wraps: Wrapping

I like to secure one side first and then bring the other side over. It makes it easier than trying to roll it all at once. So roll one side and secure it with a toothpick. This helps hold it in place while you roll the other side.

Bring the other side over and hold. Remove toothpick and stick it through the entire roll:

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Then serve!

This makes 4-5 rolls.

Notes: You could use chicken, shrimp, etc. Or you could even just load it up with vegetables for a vegetarian option.

Note Quite General Tso’s Chicken

Not Quite General Tso's Chicken

While my first attempt at a slimmed down General Tso’s Chicken didn’t turn out completely as I had hoped, and wasn’t quite what General Tso’s Chicken should be, it did turn out to be quite lovely! It had a very spicy element along with a little sweet. It was good and I would make this again, but I’m going to have to experiment a little more. For now I’ll share this with you, because really if you like a little sweet an spicy then this is the dish for you!

What You’ll Need:
1 tablespoons of sesame oil
3-4 scallions, chopped (both white and green parts), Plus additional scallions cut into strips for garnishing
2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 large green chili pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup of soy sauce
1/2 cup of rice vinegar
A pinch of sea salt
1/3 cup of honey
2 cups of chicken broth
1/2 cup corn starch
Extra virgin olive oil
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2-3 cups of steamed broccoli
Cooked brown rice (Note: Brown rice takes about an hour to cook so keep this in mind. The dish itself takes about 30-35 minutes from start to finish.)

In a medium sized pot over medium heat saute scallions, ginger, chili pepper and crushed red pepper flakes until onion is wilted and tender. Stir occasionally to keep from burning.

When onion is tender add soy sauce, rice vinegar, sea salt, honey and 1 cup of chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir together remaining chicken broth with 1/3 cup of corn starch until smooth and add to the pot. Stir sauce until thickened (this usually takes a minute or two) and remove from heat.

Let sauce cool for a minute and then strain into a bowl. Set aside.

Not Quite General Tso's Chicken: Browned Chicken

While the sauce is cooking, in a large skillet with a little extra virgin olive oil sauté chicken until browned and done through. Once cooked add strained sauce and cook for a minute or two to let the flavors meld.

While the chicken is cooking steam broccoli and the strips of green onion until tender. (Note: I usually do this in the microwave by putting a few tablespoon of water in the bottom of a glass bowl and then putting the vegetables on top. It takes about 2-3 minutes in my microwave.)

To assemble place a cup of rice on a plate and then top with the chicken/sauce mixture. Top with the steamed scallions and broccoli. Serve immediately.

Not Quite General Tso's Chicken

How easy and delicious is that?

Notes: You could do this with shrimp or beef instead. Or if you wanted an entirely vegetarian dish you could use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and mushrooms or tofu instead of meat. If you wanted to make it vegan you’d have to find a substitute for the honey. Agave nectar might work, but I’d have to play around with that to be sure.

Vegetable Eggrolls

Veggie Egg Rolls

In honor of the Chinese New Year I thought it would be fun to make some egg rolls! I had never made them before, but I figured it wouldn’t be too hard and I was right! They’re fast, easy and delicious!

What You’ll Need:
1 carrot, cut into matchstick pieces
1/8 of a head of cabbage, cut into strips
1 leek, cut into strips
A pinch of sea salt
A pinch of black pepper
2 teaspoons of rice wine vinegar
Egg roll wrappers
Peanut oil for frying

Step One:

Heat oil to 350 F.

Step Two:

While oil is heating, in a medium sized skillet saute veggies with salt, pepper and vinegar until just tender and remove from heat. The filing is now ready to fill the egg roll wrappers.

Egg Roll Filling: Cabage, Carrot And Leek Cooked

Step Three:

Lay an egg roll wrapper flat and place some filling in the middle.

Egg Roll Step One

Step Four:

Fold bottom corner to the middle and tuck under the filling.

Egg Roll Step Two

Step Five:

Fold and tuck corners. It will resemble an envelope at this point.

Egg Roll Step Three

Step Six:

Close and seal your “envelope” by rolling the egg rolls over. Dip your fingers in some water and run along the seam and gently press closed to seal.

Egg Roll Step Four

Step Seven:

Fry egg rolls for 45 seconds to 1 minute until brown. Once removed from oil the egg rolls will continue to brown. Don’t over do them!

Egg Rolls Frying

Step Eight:

Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel. Serve immediately or you can reheat them later by placing them in a warm oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

Makes 6 egg rolls.