The Outer Banks is full of ChinaMacs
up and down the beach.
They all vary in quality - from mediocre to don'tevengothere.
The fried wonton strips for the soups are always stale.
And for the life of them,
they can't produce a decent egg roll.
If I want a decent egg roll,
I must turn to my trusty Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook.
Mrs. Chiang, in case you haven't read my previous posts about her,
is a remarkable cook who the authors of the book,
Ellen and John Shrecker,
met when they were studying Chinese culture in Taiwan.
Mrs. Chiang began as their cook and housekeeper.
The Shreckers were so impressed with Mrs. Chiang's Szechuan cuisine
that they brought her home with them to the United States
to continue cooking for them.
Eventually the Shreckers and Mrs. Chiang co-authored the book.
Mr. Hawthorne and I have both created several of the recipes
in this book and all were successful.
I love the Shreckers' first paragraph introducing
Mrs. Chiang's eggrolls:
"What a travesty most American egg rolls are!
They have the drab sour taste of overcooked celery;
any other ingredients are anonymous, flavorless, and mushy.
Authentic Chinese spring rolls like Mrs. Chiang's,
with their crisp skins and savory filling,
seem like a completely different order of food."
1/4 cup dried mushrooms
1 cup boiling water
1 pound ground pork
2 TB soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 TB cornstarch
1/4 head cabbage, shredded
1 tsp peanut oil
3 TB peanut oil
1 tsp salt
1 TB soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground roasted Szechwan peppercorns
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Put the dried mushrooms in a small bowl
and pour boiling water over them.
Let soak for at least 15 minutes.
Chop the scallions
and add a third of the scallions to the pork,
along with the soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch.
Drain the mushrooms,
picking over them to remove any impurities.
Chop into small pieces.
Beat eggs in a small bowl
Heat a wok or skillet over moderate high
and pour in the teaspoon of peanut oil.
When the oil is hot, pour in the beaten eggs.
Let them cook, without stirring until they are almost firm,
then turn them over and cook about 10 seconds.
Remove omelet from pan and slice it into shreds.
Heat the 3 TB peanut oil over high flame,
then add in the ground pork, stir-frying, about 30 seconds.
Remove meat from pan and add the shredded cabbage.
Stir-fry the cabbage about 30 seconds, then add in the mushrooms
and the rest of the scallions.
Cook another minute,
stirring to make sure all the cabbage gets cooked.
Return meat to the pan and stir-fry another 20-30 seconds.
Add egg shreds and cook one more minute.
Finally add the salt, soy sauce,
ground roasted Szechwan peppercorns, and sesame oil.
Stir-fry another minute.
Let cool for a few minutes before stuffing the egg rolls.
While the mixture is cooling a bit,
make the dipping sauce.
2 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp hot pepper flakes
1/4 tsp sesame oil
3 TB soy sauce
Smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of your knife,
With a mortar and pestle,
mash the garlic and salt together into a thick paste.
Add the vinegar, hot pepper flakes,
sesame oil, and soy sauce to the garlic paste.
Place a bit of the pork mixture in your egg roll skins.
Do not over-fill.
Brush the edges with a beaten egg.
Roll up tightly and seal.
Heat peanut oil to 350°
and fry egg rolls until golden brown, maybe 2-3 minutes.
Do not crowd the pan.
Drain on paper towels,
then serve with dipping sauce.
Now that's a proper egg roll.
If you have any leftover egg roll,
cut into strips and fry until golden.