homestyle Chinese egg rolls . . .
Even though it’s been overshadowed by the Super Bowl win and parade in Boston today, it’s still the Lunar New Year today – or Chinese New Year and I wanted to celebrate with some traditional food tonight. I went around to the Vietnamese grocery stores in town, one was empty and the other one was closed. I then went to a local Chinese restaurant at 11:00 a.m. to order some carryout for dinner but it wasn’t opening until 11:30 a.m. Then, I went to a regular grocery store nearby but the lines were clogged up and I gave up.
After lunch, we briefly considered going out to dinner tonight but I decided to go one more time to the local Stop and Shop to see if anything appealed to me to make at home. We prefer to eat at home so this was out last chance. I came home with a nice head of cabbage, a bunch of scallions, dried shitake mushrooms (hooray!) and some lean pork loin for $2. At home in the freezer, I knew I had extra large shrimp and fresh bamboo shoots.
I’ve been making egg rolls for a long time but don’t do it that often. The key ingredients that are different from eggrolls in a restaurant is that I use finely shredded fresh pork marinated in soy and sherry plus chopped fresh shrimp along with shredded cabbage. Most eateries may use pork but rarely shrimp. In addition, I use plenty of fresh bamboo shoots, cut up for crunch and stir fried together with the pork. Shitake mushrooms are soaked and cut up into thin strips. There is crunchy bulk from the cabbage and bamboo shoots; there’s rich flavor from the marinated pork strips and shrimp sauteed with garlic and scallions (remove garlic before wrapping.) Let all of this cool until stone cold.
Strain the mixture and move to a bowl. Fill a small bowl with cold water. Taking an eggroll wrapper, place a narrow strip of filling crosswise from point to point, wet the edges and wrap up with one corner going over the filling, folding the ends over and continue to roll until it’s sealed together. Let these rolls rest on some parchment paper. Cover with a clean dishcloth.
When it’s time for supper, heat up a skillet with fresh vegetable oil to a depth of about 2 inches. Test it for readiness by dipping a chopstick with some filling and see if the oil bubbles up right away. Place 2 or 3 rolls in the hot oil and turn over when golden brown on one side. Continue frying until the skins are golden brown and drained of any extra oil from it – place it on paper towels to drain. Serve with a clear soup with tofu and fresh spinach in it. Eaten hot, these eggrolls are crunchy, fragrant and flavorful! If there are any left over, they freeze well and can be reheated in the microwave. They make a great late night snack too!
Happy New Year! (I find that making resolutions is meaningful during this new year – more so than during the hectic atmosphere of the other New Year at the end of the year. More time for contemplation and commitment — at least for me.