I think it’s fair to say I stand by everything I make. If I ever plan a dish to share with you guys and it turns out sub-par, I scrap it until I can perfect it.
I honestly thought this was going to be one of those projects. Boy was I wrong.
Eggrolls have always been elusive to me. Crunchy outside, savory inside, deliciously filled, folded like some complex origami. It intimidated me. But when it was suggested that I make them for Pandaren month, I decided to give it my best.
It was not hard. I should not have waited. And everyone needs to try this.
When I made my first batch of 12 (the yield for this recipe), I decided to let them cool while I cleaned up and did the dishes. There was only one other person around at the time, I told them they could try one if they’d liked. Do you want to know how many I got to sample?
One. I had one. And only because I took it in the kitchen with me while I worked. I returned to a very full Alexi and an empty plate. Apparently once he had taken a bite of the first one, he simply couldn’t help himself. I’m a bit cranky about that… Because my reaction was the same. The moment I bit into that crunchy, flavorful goodness, I needed more.
And someone had eaten them all…
So let’s take a look at what goes into this! First you need a pack of eggroll wrappers. YES purists will say you should make your own, but I was already intimidated enough so I wanted EASY. Sue me. These are also surprisingly inexpensive. You want ones that are roughly 6×6 inches (~15 cm), doesn’t have to be exact. They seem to come in packs of at least 24. You’ll get around 11-12 eggrolls from this recipe and to be fair, Ihad them stuffed pretty fat. If you use less filling than me, you can squeeze more.
So you also need a pound of meat. I recommend white meat. I used Mushan for this, but you can also use pork or chicken. You will need 2.5 cups of shredded coleslaw. You can go about this two ways: the lazy way, which is getting a package of pre-shredded slaw from your grocer, or the amazing-person way, which is to shred about a quarter of a head of cabbage and one carrot.
I am a lazy person this time.
You also need about a tablespoon of fresh ginger (that knob you see it cut in half from making a batch of ginger beer, so you’ll need maybe 1.5 inches of ginger. This doesn’t have to be exact and ginger is amazing) or about 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger.
I also used three cloves of garlic, minced. That would be around 1/2 teaspoon again for ginger powder. You also want about a tablespoon of sesame oil, and two of soy sauce.
Finally, you need 1 teaspoon of onion powder and 1/4 teaspoon of Pandaren 5 spice.
…let’s talk about 5 spice. This stuff was IMPOSSIBLE to find outside of Pandaren specialty stores. I checked all over, I checked the docks, I checked the Trade District, I checked Old Town. I even checked a few places in Iron Forge and Dalaran since I was there. NOTHING. So what is a guy to do?
Make his own!!
Before we continue — this is OPTIONAL for the eggrolls. They will be FINE if you omit this! Don’t drive yourself crazy. I just like to be Extra.
OK, so we’re clear now? You don’t have to do this? But if you still want to, or are at least curious, this is how ya do:
Get your five spices. Black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, clove and star anise. Get ground if you can. The ratio is 1:1 for all of these, so I used a teaspoon. But the problem I ran into is that I couldn’t find powdered star anise.
I could have used fennel instead, it would have ground up a lot easier and they taste similar, but I had star anise for another recipe, soooo…
I guess I COULD have used the coffee grinder instead of pounding the shit out of this like an alchemist…
But star anise smells very much like black licorice… and Colin threatened to box my ears if he started getting complaints about our coffee tasting like licorice.
I’m not entirely sure what that particular threat means, to be honest…
But I’d rather not have my ears cut off and put into boxes.
So I smashy-smashied. It was oddly relaxing. It turns out about two full stars will make around the 1 tbs I needed.
Phew!!! So one unit of each (I did one tsp of each but you just want it relatively even) and mix it up and there’s your Pandaren 5 spice blend!
…now take a teaspoon of it and put the rest away for later. Womp womp.
Now that the hard part is done, toss the meat and the cabbage mix into a pan with the sesame oil and cook it down. That looks like a lot of cabbage, but as it cooks it’ll wilt and become more reasonable. Don’t add the spices yet, you wanna save them for the end so that they don’t break down too much and lose their delicious aromas.
Instead, wait until the meat is mostly cooked through, then add all the spices, the ginger and the garlic and finish it off for the last minute. Your kitchen will instantly smell amazing.
For real, it was REALLY hard to stay out of this once it was done. It was delicious on its own. But putting it in the wrapper made it next level. And I promise it wasn’t hard.
So to start, you need a dish of water and your wrappers. Angle them so that one corner is towards you, like above.
Put the meat in the middle section. This is a little full and definitely messy, but it worked so whatever. It was almost my very first try so I was a bit nervous. Observe water dish. Hello, water dish.
Fold the bottom half up over. You’re sort of rolling it like a wrap or a burrito. Tuck the corner a bit under the meat, just enough to make it snug.
Fold in the corners and wet the top part with some water. Hey this kinda looks like an envelope! Make a crappy envelope and put water where the sticky part would be.
Roll it the rest of the way up, towards the wet corner. That’s it! That’s all there is to it! Keep them seam down while you finish up the others.
While you’re rolling them, get some oil to 350F/175C. Once you’re all done, CAREFULLY put them in the oil (I used about two centimeters worth of oil, enough to cover half an eggroll) and let them start to cook. They move pretty fast, so adjust your temperature as needed.
Once they’re all done, set them on paper towel and let them cool. This is the hardest part.
See! Not so hard! Give it a try!
- 1 pack of ~6in x 6in (15 cm) eggroll wrappers
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger (or 1/2 tsp powdered)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp powdered)
- 1/4 tsp Pandaren 5 spice (optional, instructions to make above)
- 1 lb (.5 kilo) meat of choice
- 2 1/2 cups shredded cabbage and carrot mix
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- Oil for frying
- Combine meat, sesame oil and cabbage mix and cook until meat is almost cooked through and cabbage mix is wilted down
- Add all spices and combine until fragrant
- Lay a wrapper with a corner towards you
- Add about 2 Tbsp of filling to the center of the wrapper
- Fold the corner nearest you over the filling
- Fold in the sides to make an envelope
- Wet the parts of the ‘envelope’ that would have the sticky bits with some water
- Roll away from you
- Keep seam side down until ready to fry
- Heat oil to 350f/175c
- Carefully fry until golden, only a couple of minutes
- Allow to cool
- Fight off everyone else.