05 August, 2011

Shrimp Egg Rolls

Home made eggrolls. Still akin to magic, BTW
When I was a kid, I considered egg rolls to be something akin to magic.  They were filled with shredded cabbage, but they were delicious! Not at all like the nasty cabbage my mother would make. There were other things in there, too - things I only saw inside egg rolls and had no hope of identifying.  And sometimes, there were shrimp, except much tinier than any other shrimp I'd ever seen.

Couple all that with the fact that Chinese food in general was totally mysterious (no one could ever in a million years figure out how to make it as good as the stuff you got in a Chinese restaurant!) and there you have it:  Egg rolls. So delicious and so rare, because they could only be obtained via takeout.

That was many years ago, and Asian food is not such a mystery to me any more. Good recipes on the internet, an excellent Asian supermarket nearby, and some practice have all helped me learn how to make some top-notch Chinese food.  Even the most delicious and rare delicacy of them all, the egg roll.

This recipe makes a lot of egg rolls - like thirty or more. The last time I made them, I made twenty of them right away (which were totally nommed in no time at all) and then used whatever filling was left to make another 20 which disappeared just as fast. I had originally intended to make a huge batch of them and freeze some for later, but...  damn, these things are so good you'll be eating the filling out of the pan with a fork.

Shrimp Egg Rolls
Makes about 30 rolls or so

¼ cup sesame oil
3 eggs, beaten
2 pounds of baby bok choy, finely shredded
1 cup of finely shredded cabbage
8 ounces bean sprouts
1 small carrot, finely julienned
1 can (8 ounces) shredded bamboo shoots
1 cup dried wood ear mushroom (aka black fungus) rehydrated
3 finely sliced scallions
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Chinese Shaoxing cooking wine
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon MSG
1 12-ounce package of frozen salad shrimp, thawed
Egg roll wrappers

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet or wok. Pour in beaten eggs and cook without stirring until the eggs set firmly. Turn this "egg pancake" over and cook just long enough to firm up the other side, about half a minute. Slide the egg pancake onto a plate and allow to cool; when cool slice into thin strips and set aside.

Soaking the wood ear
Rehydrate the dried wood ear mushroom by allowing it to soak in a bowl of water while you are prepping the other ingredients (shredding cabbage and cooking the eggs.) When the mushroom is soft, cut it into very fine shreds.

Heat the remaining oil in the skillet or wok and add all of the vegetables - bok choy, cabbage, bean sprouts, carrot, bamboo shoots, mushroom, and scallions. Stir fry quickly to wilt the cabbages and then, as you toss the veggies in the pan over the fire, add the soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, salt, and MSG. Continue to cook until the veggies are softened.  Add the egg and shrimp and stir over the fire for a few minutes so they pick up the flavors from the seasonings. When this stir fry is ready, transfer the mixture into a pan and put into the refrigerator to chill.

To actually make the egg rolls:

Lay an egg roll wrapper on the table in front of you with one corner pointing at you.  Dip your finger in water and wet the entire edge of the wrapper. Take a quarter-cup of the filling and spread it in a line in the center of the wrapper, leaving plenty of room at the edges for folding.

Tightly roll the bottom point of the wrapper over the filling.  Then take the side corners and fold them inward to the center, so that the egg roll kind of looks like an overstuffed envelope.  Continue to roll the wrapper up from the bottom, pressing the top corner of the wrapper to the body of the roll to seal it.

When you have a bunch of egg rolls made up and ready to cook, heat up about half an inch of oil in your skillet and fry the rolls brown on all sides by turning them frequently with a pair of tongs until you get them a nicely bubbled golden brown. Set them aside on newspapers or paper towels to drain for a minute or two, and serve hot.

A note about cooking: I like to roll these up six or so at a time, then fry the six I've made before making another six. This way, the rolls don't have time to dry out before I can fry them, and having just six on hand ready to fry means I won't overload the skillet and have too many rolls to keep an eye on. You may, if you choose, deep fry your egg rolls, or bake them (be sure to brush them with a bit of vegetable oil before they go into the oven at 400 F for 10 minutes on the first side and 8 minutes after turning them over.)

A note about wood ear mushrooms: You may omit these if you like, but if you can get some, don't leave them out - they really contribute an awesome flavor note to the finished egg rolls. You should be able to find them at any Asian market - they're one of the most common ingredients Western cooks aren't at all familiar with.


Ben said...

Care to share the name of the Asian market you referenced? Would love to check it out as I live in WMass.. thanks!

Dave said...


You can try Saigon Market on Belmont St in Springfield first. Don't be fooled by their apparently small size; the storefront is small but they have a big selection. If you're willing to travel a little though, I highly recommend A Dong Supermarket in the Shield St Plaza in West Hartford, which is where I get most of my Asian ingredients.