Egg Rolls and Spring Rolls

12 Sep

Today’s post is a long one, and kind of random. It’s a two for one—egg rolls and spring rolls!  Well, kind of.  More like spring rolls, my favorite chicken marinade, and what to do with leftover wonton/egg roll wrappers.

Anywayyyy, getting right to it, I made spring rolls and egg rolls, and here’s how it went:

My first experience with spring rolls was when my step-mom was experimenting with them as an appetizer for a party she’s having.  They were so good, and the textures and flavors were so interesting I decided to try to make some myself.

I’m not going to lie to you and say these are super easy and you probably have the ingredients in your kitchen.  Are they worth a try though?  I’d say so.  They’re a fun, unique, light, and often overlooked vegetarian dish.

—-

Start by boiling water and soaking thin rice noodles or bean threads in them according to package directions.  Mine only needed three minutes.  Pull those out of the water, drain, and give them a good helping of hoison sauce.

Let me introduce you to hoison sauce.  This stuff is awesome.  I discovered it when my friend took me out for pho the first time.  Pho is alright until you get to the bottom of the bowl and all you can taste is steeped cilantro.  Pho turns from meh to ‘omg what am I eating and why does it taste so terrible?!’  Solution: drown it in hoison sauce.

Now I’m no Asian food authority.  I do know that when I try to make Asian food and it doesn’t turn out well, I pour some hoison on it and it tastes much better.  I was initially told that it was made from dried plums.  It’s not (it’s actually soybean based), but that’s still how I would describe the flavor.  It’s a little sweet, a little savory, a little bitter.

You should pour some on your rice noodles.  Trust me.  (You could also use teriyaki, a soy-ginger vinaigrette, maybe even a spicy peanut sauce.  All are good options)

Now the veg.  You could slice up some carrots, broccoli, cabbage, cucumber, tofu, peppers, snow peas, etc.  Whatever veg. you’ve got in your kitchen.  I’m using broccoli slaw (broccoli, carrots and red cabbage).  It comes bagged near the salad mixes (oh so easy).

And avocado.  I’ve been kind of telling you to use whatever you want in these puppies, but I highly recommend avocado.  The noodles and the wrapper are chewy, the vegetables are crispy, avocado is creamyyyy.

Set up your assembly station: veggies, bowl of noodles, avocado, and three plates.  Pour warm water into one plate, one will be for assembling, one will be for the finished rolls (okay, my station’s messy, but you get the idea).

Now to make your rolls.  First soak your spring roll wrapper in warm water for 10-20 seconds.  Pull it out and transfer to your assembly plate.

It may still be a touch stiff at this point, but by the time you’re ready to roll, it will magically become rubbery and pliable.

Lay on the toppings (rice paper can take a pretty hefty amount of filling), then roll.

I didn’t take any pictures at this point, but follow this guide an you’ll be fine!  Basically, you just want to wrap them as tight as possible.  And don’t worry about tearing your rice paper, it’s sturdy, it can take it!

This was my first one.  Of course I took a bit right away.

I will admit, this being my first batch, mine were pretty lose.  And these wrappers are rubbery and sticky, and not the easiest to work with.  You will get the hang of it though, and I honestly will be making spring rolls again—they are versatile, and a fun way to play with interesting textures and fresh flavors.

—-

Moving on…EGG ROLLS!

These start with my very favorite marinade, and one chicken breast cut into small pieces.  In my family, this is Jennifer’s chicken (Jennifer is a friend of my dad’s from a long long time ago). Let that sit in the fridge for at least an hour.

Then, into a sautee pan (or grill pan) on high.  Try not to get too much of the marinade in the pan, but you can just use tongs and a few paper towels to periodically sop up extra liquid as your chicken cooks.  Shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes for these to be perfect.

My egg rolls also got some broccoli slaw and avocado slices on an egg roll wrapper (they’re like giant wonton wrappers).

Now, ideally, you will wrap these tightly, and shallow fry.  Which is what I did, but the wrappers kept tearing!  I don’t know if it was because I opened these a couple of days ago and they were slightly dried out, or because the raw broccoli slaw was especially pokey.  Either way, when I fried them, the oil got all up inside the little rolls and they were especially greasy (tasty, but greasy).  This can actually be dangerous if you choose to fill these with something wet, because water and hot oil do NOT mix.

I will try these again eventually and report back on proper rolling technique.  Until then, here’s what I can recommend:

1) marinate some chicken in Jennifer’s marinade and eat with avocado slices (I will be using avocados in my next batch of egg rolls…so creamy)

2) take your leftover wonton wrappers or egg roll wrappers and fry them…about a minute per side until golden brown.  Give them a light sprinkling of salt as soon as you remove from the fryer.

OMG this was the best part of dinner.  It tastes like a mix between a cracker and a pringle chip…almost wish I had skipped that whole filling and wrapping egg rolls and spring rolls and just made a bunch of these.  You’ll probably see these again…

—-

Spring Rolls

Makes 8 rolls

4 oz thin rice noodles or bean thread (I used Annie Chun’s maifun brown rice noodles)

4-6 T hoison sauce or your favorite teriyaki, soy-ginger or peanut sauce

one small avocado, thinly sliced

broccoli slaw or assorted thinly sliced veggies

rice paper wrappers

  • Soak your rice noodles or bean threads in hot water according to package directions (should be 3-4 minutes or so).  Remove from water and stir in hoison sauce.  Set aside.
  • If needed, slice your veggies.  Wait to slice the avocado until ready to assemble (they brown quickly)
  • Set up your assembly station: veggies, bowl of noodles, avocado, and three plates.  Pour warm water into one plate, one will be for assembling, one will be for the finished rolls
  • Soak a sheet of rice paper in warm water for 10-20 seconds then transfer to your assembly plate.  Don’t worry if your rice paper is still a bit stiff…it will become pliable as you pile on your filling.
  • Lay down avocado slices first, then rice noodles and veggies
  • Roll as tightly as possible following these steps

Jennifer’s Chicken Marinade (the BEST)

For 1-2 chicken breasts:

¼ cup low sodium soy sauce

¼ cup water

½ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp cloves

1 T fresh basil

  • If using for egg rolls or spring rolls, slice a chicken breast into thin, bite sized pieces, then let sit in marinade in the fridge for at least an hour.
  • Cook chicken pieces on a grill or sautee pan for 4-5 minutes until no longer pink (if on a sautee pan, use tongs and a paper towel to periodically sop up excess liquid so the pieces develop a sear)
  • Let cool slightly before filling rolls
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