Vegan Daughter Paleo Son

Rumi’s Chinese Egg Rolls

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Rumi’s Chinese Egg Rolls

Warning! These are addictive! Crunchy on the outside, savory and chewy on the inside. Lots of umami. And even the meat-eaters in your house will not care that they are mostly eating vegetables!

Rumi is a beautiful woman who moved to America years ago with plans of owning a Chinese restaurant. Sadly for diners, the restaurant never happened. But she married and had beautiful children who kept her busy. And she generously opened her lovely home to teach her friends to make authentic Chinese food. As a little girl, I had the magical experience of visiting Rumi’s home on one such occasion, along with my Mom and little sisters. Her large kitchen was filled with women eager to learn. We diced and seasoned and mixed and fried and laughed and had the most delightful time.

This resulted in a feast! Rumi had this long counter, which was just about at my eye level at the time. It had overhead lighting which made the food look even more bountiful and glorious. The counter and tables were filled with a variety of dishes… from egg foo young to wontons, with sauces and dips, savory and sweet. Everything was SO GOOD! How I wish I still had all those recipes. But I do still have Rumi’s egg rolls and sweet and sour sauce; I still make them for my family, who love them as much as I do.

If you are not blessed to have grown up in something like an Italian home where all the family cooks together, I highly recommend planning a cook day with your friends and kids every now an then. You may just create a memory for someone that will last a lifetime.

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Preparing Cabbage

It has been so long since making egg rolls in Rumi’s kitchen that I cannot remember if she parcooked her cabbage or simply sliced it thinly before mixing it into the filling raw.

Parcooking the cabbage will make it more compact. To me, this makes wrapping egg rolls a little easier. First, thinly slice your cabbage, then you can boil or steam it. Steaming allows cabbage to retain more flavor and nutrition.

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You only need to cook cabbage for a few minutes. Stop cooking when it is still tender-crisp and just slightly broken down. Do not let it get soft and mushy.

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Drain cabbage and squeeze out all the excess water. Wet cabbage will make messy egg rolls.

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Get yourself set up for success! You will need a pot with heated peanut oil, a sheet tray for laying out wrapped rolls, your shells, one whisked egg for glue, and all ingredients that you would like to put into your filling.

Rumi made egg rolls with pork or shrimp, green onions, bean sprouts, and seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil. Yum! You can easily leave out the meat and add colorful veggies for a vegetarian option. My Mom adds a little peanut butter to her filling to enhance these flavors.

Today, I have diced pork, sauteed with green onion (in Rumi’s honor), julienne carrots for color and nutrition, green onion, diced sauteed mushrooms for umami, and broccoli sprouts. I have already mixed in liquid aminos and sesame oil into the steamed cabbage.

By the way, Rumi never measured anything. She put in what looked right and it was always fabulous!

egg roll mise en place

Everything goes into a bowl…

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… and is thoroughly mixed. Salt and pepper, to taste. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. If your filling tastes good, your egg rolls will be dynamite!

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Wrapping Egg Rolls

Okay… I am not going to pretend that I wrap my egg rolls as pretty as Rumi does, but they are tight. No filling escapes, and I can save my beautiful clean oil for yet another batch. 🙂 Please feel free to use your own method.

On a clean surface, place one egg roll wrapper with one corner pointed toward you.

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Place about 1/3 cup filling onto the wrapper. I like it a little closer to me than the center.

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Wrap the filling with the wrapper starting with the corner pointing toward you.

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As you wrap, tuck the filling in tightly.

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Tuck in sides, and fold over side corners so that filling is thoroughly contained. Your technique matters much less than just having the filling contained. You do not want this filling leaking out. You can use a little egg wash to “glue” down these corners, if needed.

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Using a brush or your fingers, paint egg wash onto the upper corner.

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Continue rolling tightly, being careful to prevent space for air bubbles.

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Roll until that corner is glued down.

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Done! A lovely little tasty package. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers.

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On a parchment lined cookie sheet sprinkled with corn starch (preferably organic), place each roll as you wrap them. Leave space in between each roll so they do not stick to each other.

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At this point, you can make extra and freeze them on the cookie sheet. When they are set, put them in a freezer bag and keep them frozen for easy egg rolls any time you like.

These are going to be cooked now!

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Heat oil until it bubbles and sizzles when an egg roll is placed in it. Oil that is too cool will result in soppy messy oily egg rolls. Oil that is screaming hot will cook your egg rolls too quickly. You want about a medium-high temperature.

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Drop in egg rolls gently, being careful that they do not stick to each other. I use a medium sized pot so not much oil is needed, and cook about three at a time. They cook quickly.

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Use a heat-safe utensil to gentle turn egg rolls or hold them under the hot oil, if needed, for even browning.

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This one is almost perfect!

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As they brown, place them on a rack.

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These are DELICIOUS eaten immediately, at room temperature, or cold from the fridge in the middle of the night. ‘Not that anyone in my house would ever do that.

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Rumi’s Chinese Egg Rolls

Rumi never measured anything. She didn’t have to. So I am giving you as close an approximation to her style as I can. This method is extremely forgiving. If it tastes good to you, its right.

This recipe will yield 10-12 egg rolls. You can easily double to recipe for more.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups chopped cabbage (I use steamed, tender-crisp cabbage)
  • 1 cup cooked pork, shrimp, or chicken pieces (omit for vegetarian egg rolls)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms (add more for vegetarian egg rolls)
  • optional: 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • optional: 1/2 cup julienne carrots, or any other vegetable or sprout you like
  • Season with accent(msg), salt, pepper,
  • 1-2 T soy sauce (I use liquid aminos), use coconut aminos if you don’t eat soy
  • 1/4 – 1/2 t. sesame oil
  • peanut oil  or peanut butter, just a little, to taste (omit if you have allergies)
  • egg roll skins
  • 1 egg, whisked in a bowl for “glue”
  • peanut oil, for frying (if you cannot use peanuts, coconut oil works great)

Equipment

  • medium sauce pot for deep frying and a slotted spoon for removing egg rolls
  • parchment-lined cookie sheet sprinkled with cornstarch
  • cooling rack

Method 

Prepare all of your ingredients. Steam cabbage, if desired. dice and cook meat, if you are using meat.

Combine all filling ingredients into a bowl – cabbage, green onions, mushrooms, sprouts, any other vegetable you like, along with seasonings – soy sauce or aminos, sesame oil, peanut oil or peanut butter. Salt and pepper, to taste. When you like the flavor of the filling, it is good to go!

With whisked egg in a bowl, equipment set up, and oil slowly heating in a pot, wrap your egg rolls, keeping them tight and well-sealed.

Heat oil until it bubbles and sizzles when an egg roll is placed in it. Oil that is too cool will result in soppy messy oily egg rolls. Oil that is screaming hot will cook your egg rolls too quickly. You want about a medium-high temperature.

Drop in egg rolls gently, being careful that they do not stick to each other. I use a medium sized pot so not much oil is needed, and cook about three at a time. They cook quickly. Use a heat-safe utensil to gentle turn egg rolls or hold them under the hot oil, if needed, for even browning. As they brown, place them on a rack.

Serve immediately, or at room temperature. They are even delicious cold.

Wrapping egg rolls

As long as you wrap them tightly so that the filling does not leak out while frying, you are pretty much good to go. To follow is how I do it, and as close as I can remember to how Rumi did it.

  • On a clean surface, place one egg roll wrapper with one corner pointed toward you.
  • Place about 1/3 cup filling onto the wrapper. I like it a little closer to me than the center.
  • Wrap the filling with the wrapper starting with the corner pointing toward you. As you wrap, tuck the filling in tightly.
  • Tuck in sides, and fold over side corners so that filling is thoroughly contained. Your technique matters much less than just having the filling contained. You do not want this filling leaking out. You can use a little egg wash to “glue” down these corners, if needed.
  • Using a brush or your fingers, paint egg wash onto the upper corner.
  • Continue rolling tightly, being careful to prevent space for air bubbles.
  • Roll until that last corner is glued down.

Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers. On a parchment lined cookie sheet sprinkled with corn starch (preferably organic), place each roll as you wrap them. Leave space in between each roll so they do not stick to each other.

At this point, you can make extra and freeze them on the cookie sheet. When they are set, put them in a freezer bag and keep them frozen for easy egg rolls any time you like.

Try these dipped in Rumi’s Sweet and Sour Sauce!

Cabbage Notes

  • From one medium-sized napa cabbage, I got about 4 cups shredded cabbage, which yielded about 2 1/2 cups after it was steamed.
  • From one medium-sized green cabbage, I got about 20 loose-packed cups shredded cabbage, which yielded about 4 cups after it was steamed.
  • A pack of egg roll skins will contain from 12 to 21 skins. Extra skins can be used to make wontons or even crispy cinnamon and sugar bites.

Enjoy!

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  1. Thalia @ butter and brioche
    Thalia @ butter and briocheFebruary 19,15

    These chinese egg rolls look delicious. Wish I had one now.. Happy Chinese New Year!

    • Chef Gina
      Chef GinaFebruary 20,15

      Thank you, Thalia! I wish I had one now too. My family ate them all. 🙂

  2. Daria
    DariaFebruary 23,15

    These egg rolls look delicious. I will prepare this for my family. Thanks

    • Chef Gina
      Chef GinaFebruary 26,15

      Thank you Daria. 🙂 They are delicious! Your food on facebook looks amazing!

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