Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Baked Vegetable Egg Rolls

Plenty of things make me homesick. Snow. Mittens. GM cars. But egg rolls really get me. We've been in St. Louis for over three years and I haven't found any Chinese restaurant that I love as much as Golden Moon, my hometown favorite. I experience egg roll withdrawal if I don't get a fix every few months. But, to tide me over between visits, I finally decided to come up with my own recipe. I wanted to go vegetarian, because I'm pretty indifferent about meat in egg rolls and leaving it out altogether makes this a pretty cheap recipe to make. I also like substantial egg rolls. None of those matchstick, barely-there-filling rolls for me. So I double wrap them.

Egg Rolls:
About 1/2 head cabbage (green or red, I've used both)
1 lb. Bean sprouts
3 grated carrots
A few ounces sliced mushrooms
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
4-5 scallions (white part only, sliced thinly. I've also used a bit of minced white onion in a pinch)
Dash ground ginger or freshly minced ginger
3-4 Tbsp. Oil (I like grapeseed oil, but peanut or vegetable would work)
2 tsp. Kosher salt (use less if using table salt)
2 tsp. Granulated sugar
Soy sauce
1 package (about 20) egg roll wrappers

First, thinly slice the cabbage and put in a colander. Salt the cabbage and allow it to drain over the sink. You can do this the night before, placing the colander inside a large bowl in the refrigerator. I wash the sprouts and spin them dry. When the ingredients are prepared, heat the oil in a wok over med-high heat. Add the cabbage and allow to cook down for 1-2 minutes before adding in the sprouts. Allow some of the moisture to cook from the mixture before adding in the carrots, mushrooms, and scallions. I like to clear a little space in the bottom of the wok, adding a touch more oil if necessary, then putting in the garlic and ginger. Keep your heat high to cook off the liquid from the vegetables. Once most of the moisture has evaporated, add the salt, sugar, soy sauce to taste, and pepper. Stir and cook for another few moments. Drain the filling in a strainer and allow to cool. This step is important! You really want to let the moisture drain out of the filling or you'll end up with soggy, burst egg rolls. To fill: I use two wrappers for each roll, but you could certainly make a smaller size. Place the wrappers on your work surface, with a point closest to you (like a diamond). Spoon as much filling as desired (I probably use 1/4 to 1/3 cup per roll) onto the lower half of the wrapper. Fold the point nearest you over the filling, then fold in the sides (points should overlap in the middle), then roll the rest of the way up. Roll them snugly, but not too tight or they will burst in the oven. I keep a small cup of water nearby to wet the edges of the top point of the wrapper, creating a seal.

Continue until all of the filling is gone (or you run out of wrappers). The amount of filling will vary based on the size of the cabbage, how long you cook the vegetables, etc. It may take some trial and error to figure out how much filling should go into each roll. Place the finished egg rolls on a parchment lined baking sheet. I spray mine with grapeseed oil from a Misto, but you could brush them lightly with oil, or use cooking spray. Bake in a 425 degree oven until the bottoms are golden brown (probably 5-9 minutes, but I just keep a close eye on them). Turn and allow those sides to crisp. You could of course deep fry the egg rolls instead.

I think these actually taste better out of the fridge. I freeze whatever I won't eat within a day or two by individually wrapping each egg roll in wax paper and storing in a gallon freezer bag. Then I just pull them out one at a time and reheat them in my toaster oven. This is a great recipe for using up stray vegetables. I've thrown in sliced pea pods, extra mushrooms, whatever I have on hand. I note that you can use red or green cabbage, they both taste great, but a word of warning: red cabbage turns the filling a Grimmace-y shade of purple. These egg rolls take time, but the tasks can be broken up over several days, and they are worth the effort. Be creative and enjoy!

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