Thursday, May 08, 2014


Egg rolls are one of A’s favorite foods (after tacos), but I never considered making them at home because I’m afraid of deep-frying. It didn’t occur to me that egg rolls could be baked until I saw this recipe at Budget Bytes. I did think egg rolls that weren’t fried and didn’t contain meat might be a bridge too far for A, so following a lead in the comments, I swapped out the veggie filling for one that included pork. This took a little manipulating, since the pork version was intended for potstickers and was thus uncooked, so I ended up making a mashup of the two different recipes. Unfortunately, I didn’t take good notes, and enough time elapsed before I made these again that I didn’t remember what I’d done before and had to figure it out all over again. Luckily, the filling is forgiving.

You should know that I’m cabbage-averse, although I’m slowly warming to the stuff. I was a little put off by the thought of using a whole head, so the first time around I just bought a bag of pre-shredded cabbage from Trader Joe’s. That’s probably why I only ended up with enough filling to stuff 12 of my 20 egg roll wrappers, although this didn’t occur to me at the time. On my second attempt I increased the pork to ¾ pound, upped the carrot and green onions, and used a whole head of cabbage. (Luckily, Budget Bytes has helpful slicing instructions with photos, since I hadn’t tried to take on a head of cabbage since my CSA gave me one in 2007.) It turns out there’s a lot more cabbage in a head than in a bag! I filled 20 egg roll wrappers generously and still had a little filling left over. So maybe I should have stuck with just ½ pound pork? (A would say no.) In both iterations, the filling tasted great, which is the important thing. I even liked the cabbage.

Are baked egg rolls the same as fried ones? They aren’t going to fool anyone into thinking they’re takeout; the texture is crunchier, chewier, a bit drier (definitely have your favorite dipping sauce on hand; I love Trader Joe’s gyoza sauce, which is basically soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil with some seasonings, but sweet chili sauce or spicy mustard are also good options). I actually think I might prefer the baked version, though. Four or five plus a side dish (see my next post for that) adds up to a reasonable meal with a decent serving of fresh veggies that doesn’t feel too heavy, and they even make passable leftovers. (I think if you reheated them in the oven or toaster oven they’d regain their crispness and be near-new again, but even zapped in the microwave and thus a bit softer, they were just as tasty.)

These may be a bit more complicated than tacos, but they still weren’t too hard for a weeknight and will definitely be a regular menu feature.

½-¾ pound ground pork
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-inch segment fresh ginger, peeled and grated or minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 green onions, sliced
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 small head green cabbage, cored and thinly shredded
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 package of 20 egg roll wrappers
Nonstick spray (or additional vegetable oil)

1. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the pork and brown, breaking up with a spoon, until cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper-towel lined plate, leaving the skillet on the burner.

2. Add 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil to the skillet. Add the green onion, garlic, and ginger and sauté until slightly softened (1-2 minutes). Add the carrot, sauté for one minute more, and then add the cabbage and ½ teaspoon salt. Continue to cook and stir until the cabbage has reduced in volume by half.

3. Return the pork to the skillet, then add the soy sauce and cook until slightly thickened. Drizzle the sesame oil on top and stir in. Turn the heat off and add a few grindings of pepper. Give the mixture a taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. Let the mixture cool slightly.

4. Begin to fill and roll the egg rolls. Place one wrapper at a time on a clean surface and place about ¼-1/3 cup of the pork mixture just off center, close to one of the corners on the square. Roll the corner up and over the filling, fold each side in, and then roll the rest of the way up. Keep a small bowl of water near by and use it as “glue” to hold the corners of the egg roll wrapper in place.

5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by covering with foil. Place the egg rolls on the baking sheet and coat with nonstick spray or brush with vegetable oil. Roll them over and spray/brush the other side with oil. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Turn the egg rolls over halfway through cooking and rotate your baking sheet if you have hot spots in your oven.

Serves: 4-5 as a main dish, more as an appetizer
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Leftover potential: Surprisingly OK. Reheat in the oven or toaster oven for best results, but microwave is fine if you don’t mind a softer texture. You can also freeze the unbaked egg rolls and just pop them into the oven without thawing, although the texture may not be as good as with the freshly made ones.

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