Thursday, September 04, 2008

How to Make Eggrolls

My brother's former roommate Helen taught me how to make egg rolls! Perhaps this isn't the most mysterious kind of food, but I have definitely had difficulty maneuvering those little wonton wrappers in such a way that they don't explode. I have had some small success with steaming them, but frying is a whole different matter.

Helen taught me how to roll the egg rolls properly and tightly in order to prevent the wonton wrappers from coming apart during the frying process. She scared me a little when she was tasting her filling for saltiness (it contained raw pork, and I don't recommend trying this at home!), but boy, oh boy, were those egg rolls delicious when finished. We took the egg rolls to a really delightful "Arrested Development"-themed party (complete with chocolate-dipped frozen bananas with accompanying stand!) where they were, of course, a big hit. Who doesn't like delicious, greasy finger food with their caipirhinas? Yum!

Helen has told me what she puts in her egg roll filling, but I can't remember it off the top of my head, so I sort of made up my own. I think it's close enough. Try your own favorite flavors, though...egg rolls are very versatile, so make the filling to your own taste.

I've included a step-by-step "How to Roll" photo series. I'm a visual learner when it comes to cooking and baking, so I figure others out there would appreciate a visualization of the process, too. Also, as you know, hot oil is dangerous and can burn you very badly if enough of it makes contact with your skin. Please exercise extreme caution when frying on the stove.

Mini Egg Rolls
1 lb fresh ground pork
1/2 lb raw shrimp, chopped well
1 cup finely shredded carrots
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
generous salt and pepper, to taste (but please beware of tasting raw meat and eggs!)
2 eggs
1 TBSP soy sauce
1 TBSP fish sauce
1 package of triangle shaped wonton wrappers (available in Asian markets and some other grocery stores in the frozen or refrigerated sections).
several cups of oil (vegetable, canola, peanut...whatever you like to fry with)

Mix all ingredients (except wonton wrappers and oil). Mixing with hands is, in my opinion, the best, but if you don't like getting your hands messy, a wooden spoon will do. If you mix with your hands, remember to wash thoroughly with soap and hot water afterwards.

Prepare a space for rolling the egg rolls. Make sure to keep the wonton wrappers moist (if you roll quickly, this isn't a problem, but wonton wrappers dry out easily. I find it easier to keep a damp paper towel covering them, and have an assistant separating each wrapper from the stack as I need it). Place the wonton wrapper flat and spoon about a tablespoon of filling into the center. Shape it with your fingers into an egg-roll-shaped-log.

Take the right corner of the wonton wrapper and fold it across towards the left corner of the wonton wrapper very tightly. Do the same with the left corner, bringing it towards the right. There will be a bit of corner hanging over. Fold it back on itself so there is no wonton hanging over on either side.

Using your fingers in the center, tuck the wonton wrapper tightly into itself and roll towards the top point of the triangle. Continually check to make sure the roll is tight. Make it as tight as you can!

When you reach the end of the triangle, dip your finger in a dish of water and lightl brush the triangle tip to help seal it. You don't need much water.

There you have it: your first egg roll! Put it aside on a plate or in a shallow dish, and keep on rolling until you run out of filling or wonton wrappers. If you have leftover filling, you can use it in a stir fry or something.

Once all your egg rolls are rolled, heat 3 or 4 inches of oil in large or medium size heavy-duty sauce pan over medium high heat. When the oil is hot enough, carefully place the egg rolls into the hot oil. You'll have to work in batches. Only put as many in as you can fit in one layer. Watch the egg rolls carefully. When they reach a delightful golden brown color, they are done. Remove the cooked egg rolls to a plate lined with paper towels (to absorb the grease). Allow to cool for a few minutes before taking a test bite.

Continue with the rest of the egg rolls until they are all cooked, then take them to a party and watch them disappear!