Eight years ago I had my first – and last – homemade phenomenal gluten-wrapped egg roll. I remember the evening well. My love (a native Chicagoan who also happens to be Chinese-American) and I were dating/living together at the time. While we made the egg rolls, he were talking about my first trips to Chicago, etc. I started to tell random stories. (Of course.)
One of which was about my then college buddies and I driving to Chicago for a weekend. (One of the girls was from the nearby suburbs, so we all went home with her to explore the city.) What I vividly remembered, I told him, was driving around freaked out by the traffic with one friend holding a map and the other reading street signs.
In particular, I remember the girl reading the map telling the other to watch for “Wentworth or Cermak Road”. (We were headed to Chinatown.) The girl in charge of street signs was quiet for the longest time. Long enough for our already-thin-thanks-to-traffic-patience to wear out further.
The girl with the map asked in a more demanding tone “Where are we, T? You are watching the street signs, right?”
“Of course I am,” she replied quite exacerbated with us herself, “Quit being so pushy. I just can’t read the street signs. I don’t know what it says, so leave me alone.”
Huh? Oh great, I thought, we put someone with worse vision than my own in charge of the street signs!
“What do you mean you *can’t* read them, T? That doesn’t make sense.”
“Well,” she said, “They look all strange to me. I can’t figure out what they say.”
At the next red light I could finally look up long enough to see what her problem was. At the sight of the street signs written in kanji (“Chinese”) script, I just about busted a gut and wet my pants.
“Um, T?” I asked, “Did you think maybe you couldn’t read it because it’s written in Chinese? Do ya think maybe we’re here already?”
Good lord. That woman is NOT my choice of navigator now. In fact, my navigator does little more than try to look cute and stick his big head out the window when we drive by any lakes or streams. My black lab is the best navigator and side-seat driver ever. He’s awfully quiet.
Needless to say, by the time my love and I met, I had learned my way around Chicago well and knew enough about Chinatown to find my favorite egg rolls. Thankfully, he taught me there was so much more to Chinese food than what I had known before. And with the few tips and tricks from his family – and himself – I have learned to make some fabulous Chinese food.
One trick he taught me the night we made egg rolls. He was telling me about working in his family’s Chinese restaurant as a child. (He was cute as a little guy. He told me that he and his sister got the best tips. LOL) He said that to hold all the egg roll ingredients together, his grandfather would add peanut butter to the veggie and meat mix. Say what? Come on now, I thought, peanut butter? How gross.
Boy, was I wrong. When we added peanut butter to the egg roll filling mix, I was convinced I was going to hate them. Hardly. Those egg rolls beat out anything I had eaten before. And shortly after the egg roll making-bonanza, I learned that I had Celiac Sprue. No more egg rolls. Well, at least not until now.
While this recipe may not make my weekly rotation, it was nice to make some tasty egg rolls that were even delicious for lunch the next day at work! (Yes, you read that right – they were still delish at lunch!) The only bizarre thing? The egg rolls didn’t brown like the gluten-filled wraps. I’m not sure why, but to be honest, these white egg rolls hit the spot. I’m not much of a fried foodie, it makes my heart seize just thinking about it, but sometimes….. Sometimes you just have to live a little.
If you have been craving egg rolls too, may I suggest you take the plunge and try some of these? If you aren’t hung up on the coloring, your taste buds will love you.
My Egg Roll Wrapper Recipe
1/2 cup cold water + 1/4 cup cold water (added tablespoon by tablespoon)
1 egg (whisked in to 1/2 cup cold water) + 1 egg for sealing egg rolls
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup rice flour
1/3 cup tapioca starch (+ more for dusting)
1/3 cup corn starch
1/3 cup sweet rice flour (+ more to avoid sticky dough)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon gelatin
- Put rice flour, salt, tapioca, corn starch, sweet rice flour, xanthan gum, and gelatin in a food processor until evenly combined.
- Whisk together egg with ½ cup cold water until well blended.
- Turn on food processor and slowly pour egg/water mixture into the dough.
- Open the food processor and scrap down the sides. Make sure the dough is evenly processed. At this point, check to see if the dough will easily stick together but is not sticky. If the dough does not come together to form a soft dough, turn the food processor back on and slowly drizzle water in by the tablespoon (maybe up to ¼ cup more of cold water will be needed). If the dough is too sticky, add a tablespoon of sweet rice flour at a time until the dough forms a soft dough.
- Divide the dough into 2 Tablespoon/small ice cream scoop balls. While working with one ball at a time, keep the remaining dough in a bowl under a damp (but not wet!) towel.
- Press each ball into a small disk.
- At this point, you can either use a tortilla press, a pasta roller, or some serious arm muscle and a rolling pin. Roll the disk into a super flat (think lasagna flat) round or square. (If using your pasta roller, roll to the level 3 thickness. (1 being the thickest setting on my Kitchen Aid pasta roller attachment.) Don’t get the wrap too thin or it will rip when you are rolling the egg rolls together with their stuffing.
- Continue flattening each ball.
- Store the flattened egg roll wrappers on wax paper or parchment paper and cover with a damp (not wet!) towel. Set aside to make your filling. (See below for a suggested filling recipe.)
- Once you have prepared your filling, individually lay 2-3 tablespoons of filling into each egg roll wrap. (The amount of filling will vary depending on the size of you wraps.)
- There are two ways to fold up the wraps – depending on how flexible your wraps are (depends on how thick/thin they are).
- OPTION ONE: Wrap like a spring roll wrapper but be sure to brush the last edge with beaten egg to seal it before frying.
- OPTION TWO: Fold in the sides over the top of the filling. Then fold up the bottom. Put beaten egg on the final edge and roll the wrap into the egg-brushed edge so that all sides are covered.
- Lay aside completed egg rolls.
- Heat 1 ½ inches oil (we use canola or peanut) in a deep pan.
- Once the oil sizzles when the end of an egg roll is dipped it, add 3 or 4 egg rolls to the oil to cook.
- Stir occasionally to ensure equal cooking.
- Each batch of egg rolls will take between 5 – 6 minutes in the fryer.
- Drain well on a large stack of paper towels or on a brown bag to absorb the oil.
- Serve with Sweet Thai Chile dipping sauce or another sauce of your choosing.
Egg Roll Filling
1 16 ounce/1 pound package shredded cabbage/carrot mix
1 1/2 cups shredded pork or chicken (lightly seasoned)
2 Tablespoons GF soy sauce
1/3 cup peanut butter
salt/pepper to taste
- Add a small amount of olive oil to a pan and heat until it swirls like water. Add meat.
- Cook meat thoroughly.
- Remove cooked meat from pan with a slotted spoon and return the pan to the heat.
- Add cabbage/carrot mixture. Add soy sauce.
- Stir-fry until heated through – but not cooked to a mushy state.
- Add cabbage/carrot mixture to the bowl with the meat.
- Add peanut butter and stir to distribute well and combine all ingredients thoroughly.
- Add salt/pepper to taste.
Happy egg rolling!