"You should write about eggrolls," my step-daughter, Alysse, said, "I'd love to have your recipe."
And sleepless in Minnesota at 5 o'clock on a Sunday morning seems as good a time as any to oblige.
Are these "authentic" Chinese eggrolls? Authentic Vietnamese eggrolls?
Not on your tintype!
But they're a heckuva lot better than any cabbage-filled restaurant eggroll!
We've long established I hate cooking but I love researching food so many 1-hour meals are preceded by two hours of research. That's the fun part! This eggroll recipe benefited from all that research and along the way...I found a hack!!!
Two hacks, actually. The first is to precook your eggroll filling. The second hack is to cool and drain the filling. I really can't emphasize this enough. You'll be shocked how much liquid drains out of the filling. With the filling nice and dry, your eggrolls won't get soggy and frying takes just minutes.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
First, the wrappers. If anyone thinks I'm going to make eggroll wrappers from scratch, they've got another think coming! Tried it. It's too hard without a pasta roller for getting the dough nice and thin. So I buy the wrappers in the Produce section of the grocery store.
Secondly, the filling. Eggrolls is one recipe where you can get away with substituting tofu for meat and your man won't know the difference! Honest, I tested it on my guinea pig, Michael, and he was halfway through his third eggroll before he said, "Hey! Doesh thish thing have meat in it?" His mouth was full at the time.
But if you do use tofu, here again is a hack!
Drain. Your. Tofu. That's right. Open the box it comes in, drain off the water and then wrap your tofu in white paper towel, place it in a container, place a dessert plate (or something flat on top) and then something very heavy on top of the plate. We want to squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the tofu before cooking.
Finally, at long last, here is the recipe for the eggroll filling:
And speaking of garlic, no one spoke of it more eloquently than Anthony Bourdain in Kitchen Confidential:
“Garlic is divine. Few food items can taste so many distinct ways, handled correctly. Misuse of garlic is a crime. Old garlic, burnt garlic, garlic cut too long ago and garlic that has been tragically smashed through one of those abominations, the garlic press, are all disgusting. Please treat your garlic with respect....Smash it, with the flat of your knife blade if you like, but don't put it through a press. I don't know what that junk is that squeezes out the end of those things, but it ain't garlic....Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screw-top jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic.”
Just to review: Separate a clove from the head of garlic. Cut off the flat end and peel the paper off the clove. Laying it on your cutting board (which is securely held in place by non-skid rubber under it), lay the flat of your chef's knife on the clove and bang! Give it one good hit with your fist. This will smash the clove making it easier to dice.
Do what I say, not what I do! In one never-to-be-forgotten episode of kitchen klutziness, my knife was slightly canted upwards...and I accidentally brought my fist banging down on the sharp edge. Ow. Is that blood!?!
Combine the above ingredients (sans blood) and let them marinade together, then fry in sesame oil. Remove the filling from the heat and add 1-1/2 Tb. soy sauce and 1/4 tsp. sugar. Freshly ground pepper to taste.
Now spread the filling in a 9" x 13" pan and wedge something under one end. As it cools, the liquid will run downhill. Drain it off. We don't any sogginess!!! (Kitchen Hack: Freeze leftover filling for an easy meal of eggrolls on a Saturday when you just don't feel like cooking from scratch.)
Your filling has cooled and drained. Your eggroll wrappers are ready. Your deep-fry oil is hot. And you've set a small container of cornstarch mixed with water at your workstation. You'll see why in a moment.
Lay one eggroll wrapper kitty-corner in front of you and place a spoonful of filling 1" from the corner closest to your tummy. Not too much! That's the mistake Americans make. We overfill our eggrolls!
Turn the corner closest to your tummy over the filling. Now bend the right-hand and left-hand corners inwards rubbing cornstarch water over any surfaces where the eggroll wrappers touch. That's your glue. If you need visual step-by-step directions, click here!
Continue rolling until you have a nice eggroll log. Now, very carefully, place it in your hot oil making sure that, if it splashes at all, it splashes away from you. When it's browned all over, it'll be hot through and ready to enjoy. Fish it out and drain on paper towel. Now aren't you glad you precooked that filling!? :)
Dipping Sauce: My homemade sweet-sour-and-blasted-hot sauce or authentic Vietnamese fish sauce my friend, Loan, taught me how to make.
But if you think I'm going to write about fish sauce at 5 o'clock on a Sunday morning, you have another think coming! That's another article for another day.
Photo by sillyxone
I dislike cooking but since I'm obliged do it, the result must be spectacular or it's a waste of time and effort. That's why I seek out the best dishes and culinary techniques to test and perfect before sharing them with you!
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