Toan’s Egg/Spring Roll

In food on 09/24/2009 at 10:53 am

Why are egg rolls called egg rolls? They don’t have eggs in them, unless you’re making the Taiwanese version which has strips of eggs, but then they are called popiah. There is also the fluted flaky pastry that is an egg roll, which either has eggs or yellow no. 5. Some say the huge carbo bombs you get at Chinese take-out places are egg rolls. Wiki says they are the ones dipped in egg wash after you wrap them up, before they’re fried.

At our housewarming party last Sunday, I featured an egg roll I procured from my high school Vietnamese friend’s mom. These are light golden gems that are so crunchy they just put a smile on your face. I was lucky to eat them a couple of times when they threw big parties back in the day. They are so good I fantasized about them off and on since then. Finally I got my grubby hands on the recipe and made them for this occasion.

I never order egg rolls at restaurants because I was spoiled by these. Also, only tourists pick that item. There’s usually something more authentic and spicy to eat. And I never ever included them in my Chinese take-out order until I met the other half, who apparently is a fan. I find them too gummy or undercooked or greasy. The filling is also too mushy with watery tasteless vegetables. Toan’s egg rolls are none of these wretched things.

1. Roast suckling piglet from La Valença
2. Dinuguan (my Filipino friend’s mom’s recipe)
3. Fried salmon fish head from our Portuguese fish monger
4. Toan’s egg rolls
5. Wisconsin rhubarb pie
6. Momofuku blueberry cream cookies
7. Vegetarian moussaka

perfection thy name is piglet

Gotta shill for my neighborhood Portuguese pit master. Look at that beauty. I was about to chop it up with my cleaver when I realized the meat was so tender it was falling off the bone. Only the crispy thick skin kept it from falling apart. We’d been moved into our new apartment for ages, so this party was really just an excuse to buy one of these pigs. It was much cheaper than a piglet from Chinatown. This flavor is smoky as opposed to the five spice you’d get from the other, but it’s not a bad booby prize. I’d take it any day!

Anyways, back to the egg rolls. I knew there was a secret ingredient to Toan’s because I’d never tasted any filling like it before or after I had hers. Turns out it’s taro root, shredded, so you’d never guess it. It’s the key to making the filling bulky and mellow, a perfect contrast to the thin, crisp wrapper. I wonder how she came up with this combination, especially the Korean favorite of using mung bean threads in a dumpling-type setting.

Vietnamese manna

dis how we roll

There’s several different sizes of the wrapper. I chose the middle one, enough to get two bites out of one egg roll. The perfect amuse bouche. Make sure it is thawed completely, it’ll be easier to peel the layers off. It’s pretty fun, like pulling thin layers of bubblegum. To wrap up the Vietnamese burrito, place the filling in a diamond configuration above, bring the bottom corner up, pull it snug to the filling, roll up one half roll, bring the side corners in, one more roll, dab a thin schmear of the flour/water paste on the edge, and then roll it up to glue the cylinder together.

homemade mod podge

This is the consistency the glue should be. I rolled the pastry on top of a mini-stack of wrappers so the counter doesn’t get messy with drips of glue. If you can, get another set of hands to help roll these babies up, or the wrappers could start drying up too fast. I let them sit seam side down.

egg roll tanning spa

In anticipation of our foray into deep fryer mastery, we bought a gallon of peanut oil. When it’s hot, it smells like fresh roasting peanuts, unlike the bitter, almost sour aroma of frying olive oil. It also has a higher burning temperature, so you won’t char these precious egg rolls.

They were a big hit at the party, even though the filling burst out of the shells on some of them. I’m still trying to figure out if it’s because we wrapped them too tightly or I just fried them too long. Fried food done right can never go wrong.

For filling:
4 small shallots, sliced thin
1 individual pkg (2 oz) mung bean thread noodles
1 lb ground pork shoulder
1 tsp garlic powder (coarse grind)
1 tsp ground pepper
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
½ lb grated carrots
½ lb grated taro root
½ medium onion, diced

For shrimp: (optional add-in)
~1 pound shrimp (size 36-40), peeled and deveined
2 tsp oyster sauce
Garlic powder
Ground pepper

For eggroll:
1 package (50-8×8 inch sheets) spring roll pastry, thawed to room temperature
Note: Brand – Spring Home: TYJ spring roll pastry (wheat-based)

For filling:

1. Sauté shallots in some olive oil until golden brown. Set aside.
2. Mix ground pork, garlic powder, ground pepper, and 1 tablespoon oyster sauce. Add sautéed shallots. Refrigerate.
3. Soak bean thread noodles in warm water to soften (~5 minutes). Drain and cut into 1-inch pieces.
4. Add bean thread noodles, carrots, taro root, onion, and remaining tablespoon of oyster sauce to meat mixture. Mix until evenly incorporated. Note: Do not overmix.

For shrimp:

1. Mix together shrimp, oyster sauce, garlic powder, and ground pepper.

For eggroll:

1. Separate spring roll pastry into sheets. Taking one sheet, add some of the meat mixture and 1 shrimp placed lengthwise. Roll. Seal with a water and flour mixture (with a consistency like glue). Repeat with the remaining sheets. Fry the eggrolls in a deep fryer at medium heat until cooked through and browned (<5 min).

Note: If freezing for later use, put the eggrolls onto a cookie sheet (slightly apart) and put into the freezer until the eggroll wrappers have dried and slightly hardened. Then put the eggrolls into a plastic or ziplock bag to store. Before frying, put the eggrolls onto a paper towel to thaw for about 10-15 minutes or until the outside wrapper has slightly softened. Fry as directed.

Dipping sauce: these really don’t need anything, but a fish sauce/sugar/chili one is classic, or the Chinese ginger/scallion/sesame oil combo would be great.

how many can you eat?

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