Friday, March 6, 2009

Egg Rolls - How to Host Your Own Eggroll Party!

To the original eggroll loving crew - SPL, HYK, HKL, CY, SB, RH

Back in my late twenties, before I got married, I had the great fortune of living with three other women over a two year period. We shared a house, lived separate professional lives (an attorney, a high school teacher, an elementary school teacher, a planner for a clothing company) but always came together under the roof as hungry women. I cooked for them all back then - and they were subject to my whims and my desires for what I wanted to cook on any given day - most of the time they were satisfied and most of the time they were all grateful. I was always willing to cook something new, and one day, while one of the women and I were walking, she mentioned her obsession with eggrolls and how much she loved them. I told her, "I can make them for you" and "Eggroll Party" was born.

Eggroll Party was simply this - I made the filling, the girls got together and rolled eggrolls while I waved my wooden spoon complaining about the lack of consistent quality in the rolled product. Then I would fry them. We would eat them while we continued to roll and then have our tally of how many we actually ate. (SPL and HKL always thought they ate the most, but the current official tally record holder has HKL at 9 eggrolls for lunch.)

Eggrolls are seemingly now in "style" as during Super Bowl Parties they seem to make their appearance. This past Super Bowl I was at a party where one of the guests brought eggrolls, freshly made from some restaurant - they were pretty good, but nothing compares to homemade, made from scratch, make your own filling, fry them up piping hot and eat them at your own risk of burning your mouth eggrolls. They are fun to do as a group and I promise, you do it once, you'll want to do it again and again. This could be great for your next Super Bowl party - practice it now and you'll be ready to do it next year.

The filling I make is of my own invention - I just put things in there that I like in my eggrolls - pork, cabbage, celery, onions, scallions, carrots, mungbean noodles - quickly fried up and then put inside the eggrolls. It is not a "traditional" eggroll - whatever that means. But it's a good filling and not hard to make.

The night before an eggroll party, I always pre-chop all my ingredients (chopping vegetables always takes LONGER than you expect) and put them in tupperware (or a plastic bag) ready to simply be fried up the next day. Once my guests begin arriving, I get one person going on the fry pan and the rest of the women limber up their fingers and think zen thoughts of how they will roll the perfect eggroll.

Joanne's Yummy Eggrolls (for lack of a more sophisticated description)
(makes approximately 40 - but depends on how fat you make them.)

1 lb of ground pork (usually get the leanest one they have available)
3 tablespoons of ginger
3 tablespoons of garlic
1/4 cup oyster sauce (Lee Kum Kee Brand please...former student's family)
1 head of cabbage, shredded
4 carrots, julienne (around 2 inches in length, 1/8 in thick)
4 stalks of celery, julienne
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 bunch of scallions, chopped
Soy sauce (optional)
4 bunches of bean thread noodles (mung bean thread noodles - sometimes called vermicelli - available at your local Chinese Supermarket)
2 packs of eggrolls wrappers, defrosted (I like the Menlo brand)

4 cups of vegetable oil (I use safflower or canola for cleanness of flavor - some use peanut)

Unwrap the noodles and put them at the bottom of a very large mixing bowl. The noodle serves a key purpose beyond noodles being in the eggroll - the noodles will soak up any excess liquid from your eggroll mixture thereby preventing you from having juicy exploding eggrolls, and instead will have firm non-exploding eggrolls. You keep the noodles UNCOOKED and the steam from the hot vegetables and the liquid from the vegetables will soften them.

In a large frying pan, add 2 teaspoons of oil, ginger, garlic and pork. Work quickly, cooking up the pork and add the oyster sauce. The pork should be fully cooked. Pour the pork, liquid and all over the mung bean noodles.

In the same frypan, over medium heat, add another 2 teaspoons of oil, and add cabbage to the oil. (as much as will comfortable fit in the fry pan.) Sprinkle with a pinch of salt (or soy sauce -but soy sauce will mask the freshness of the vegetables more than salt.) and pepper. Stir fry until the cabbage is wilted, but not totally soggy. Add to the pork and noodle. To speed up the softening of the noodle process, cover the bowl with its hot ingredients with a heavy lid.

Continue batch frying all the vegetables cabbage, celery, onions, with salt and oil (but not scallions) and add to your big bowl of cooked ingredients until you are done frying. Add scallions to the bowl of cooked vegetables and slowly begin mixing the ingredients. If the noodles are soft enough, take kitchen shears and cut them into smaller pieces. If your noodles are NOT soft enough and there doesn't seem to be enough liquid or heat to make the noodles soft enough, add boiling water in 1/4 cup increments, slowly, mixing as you go, in order to produce the soft noodles. (I've only EVER had to do this once -and still am unclear as to why it happened that time.) Carefully mix the ingredients, so you have a uniform filling. It should look something like this:

In a heavy pan, heat up your 4 cups of oil over medium heat. (you can use less oil if you use a smaller pan - I always use a deep tiny pan that only requires 2 cups of oil - and I only fry 3-4 eggrolls at a time.)

Gather around your team of rollers -set them up with a tray and the eggroll filling in the center of the table. Have an bowl of beaten egg (for the glue) and then begin rolling.

Put 1/4 cup of filling in one corner of the wrapper.

Pull the corner up and tightly push it against the filling.

Roll the wrapper up until you are just shy of the middle of the wrapper. Fold over one side.

Fold over the other.

Keep rolling as tightly as possible

Seal the end with a dab of beaten egg (the glue)

Roll and seal tightly. While waiting for them to be fried, lay them SEAM SIDE DOWN.

Your oil is heated and ready when you put a wooden chopstick into the bottom of the oil and bubbles rise rapidly to the surface. Place eggrolls into your pot, not enough to crowd, giving them enough room to move around. Since the filling is completely cooked, you are looking to fry the eggroll skin to a golden brown.

Be careful when eating a super hot egg roll! We like it with the Vietnamese fresh chili garlic sauce or soy sauce. Others look for plum sauce.

A beautiful finished product...don't you want to have your own eggroll party?


Buckeroo said...

Yum! One of my favorites. My MIL always makes these, too, whenever we visit. (We also sometimes make these using fresh "lumpia" wrappers, so no need to fry.)

halim said...

I do believe that I am the greatest fan of these egg rolls:-) Have had yours several times and finally attempted to make them myself yesterday for a family dinner. Though it IS a little bit labor intensive, it was well worth it. They were soooo delicious. I left out the oyster sauce and substituted it with soy sauce and they still turned out great. I think I julienned my carrots a bit too big and I ended up having to add a bit of hot water to soften my noodles but they turned out great overall. Will definitely be making these again!

gaga said...

I would LOVE to have an eggroll party. I can never get enough!

J said...

I stumbled upon this site, but my mom and I have been making egg rolls for years, with a very similar recipe. It took us a lot time to make the switch to ground pork, as we then learned it cuts down on the greasy factor. Although to save time, we buy the shredded cabbage/carrot mix you buy in the bag in the salad section. Cuts prep time down by a lot.

drskuter said...

I am determined to try this recipe this weekend. One word: YUM!!

Danny and Esther said...

I've never made mine with pork. That look so good. I always make mine with good quality salad shrimp meat.

Danny and Esther said...

And I don't stir fry my cabbage, I just salt them, and squeeze the all the water out.

Anonymous said...

Hello! I love your blog!!
I plan to make your eggrolls this weekend. To save time on the day of party is it ok to roll the egrool the night before and fry the the next day right before guests arrive?
Are the eggroll wrappers a specific kind of wrappers or any eggroll wrappers will do?
Thanks for your help!

Karen said...

Do you have advice on how to freeze these? Could I make them in advance and freeze them pre-fried, or should i fry them and then freeze them? I live by myself but I want to make these, but I don't want to eat 30 egg rolls in one night! (although I could... ;) )

Joanne Choi said...

Karen -

today I made a ton of filling and only used half. I am debating whether freezing them would even be doable. I'm guessing that freezing just the filling might be better and then defrosting it and rolling fresh might be the best option, due to the nature of the wrappers.

I use Menlo or WeiChuan wrappers, which I think are pretty readily available anywhere.

Joanne Choi said...

Karen -

today I made a ton of filling and only used half. I am debating whether freezing them would even be doable. I'm guessing that freezing just the filling might be better and then defrosting it and rolling fresh might be the best option, due to the nature of the wrappers.

I use Menlo or WeiChuan wrappers, which I think are pretty readily available anywhere.

Anonymous said...

that's wrapped awful, it would come undone if you fried it.

Vern Chen said...

May I share your recipe on my website?


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