Crunchy, savoury, and bursting with flavourful fillings, egg rolls have become a beloved appetiser in Asian cuisine. These delicious delights, wrapped in a crisp wheat-based shell, have a fascinating origin that spans cultural influences and culinary creativity.
Get ready for a delicious journey while we explore the story of these tasty treats and learn the art of crafting them.
What Are Egg Rolls?
Egg rolls are a popular appetiser in Asian cuisine, particularly next to Chinese and American-Chinese main dishes. In Chinese restaurants, egg rolls are commonly enjoyed as appetisers, served alongside delicious dipping sauces. In American-Chinese cuisine, they have become a beloved part of the menu, satisfying many as a tasty and delightful snack or starter.
Egg rolls consist of a filling made from a combination of ingredients, such as cooked meat, vegetables, and seasonings. The filling is then wrapped in a wheat-based wrapper and finally deep-fried until crispy. The frying process creates a contrast in textures, with a crispy outer layer and a well-cooked, flavourful filling inside.
Egg rolls are super versatile, and you can create various fillings to match different tastes and diets, like vegetarian and vegan choices. People love them not just in Chinese restaurants but also in Asian markets, food trucks, and even at their home kitchens. People can even experiment with their own creative twists on this classic dish.
Why Are Eggs Rolls Called Egg Rolls?
The name “egg roll” might be a bit misleading, as the egg itself is not a significant ingredient in the filling. The term likely originated from the fact that the original wheat-based wrappers used in Chinese cuisine contained eggs. However, the name stuck over time and is now commonly used to refer to this beloved appetiser.
Traditional Egg Rolls Recipe
Making traditional egg rolls is a straightforward process, and their versatility allows for customisation to cater to different tastes. You can add or substitute different vegetables, adjust the seasonings, or choose different proteins. The key is to have a well-cooked and flavorful filling wrapped in a crispy egg roll wrapper.
Here’s the best traditional egg rolls recipe explained:
1 package egg roll wrappers
1 cup cooked and shredded chicken
1 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon grated ginger
Vegetable oil for frying
Follow these instructions for the best possible outcome:
1. Prepare the Filling
Combine the shredded chicken, cabbage, carrots, sliced green onions, minced garlic, soy sauce, oyster sauce (if using), sesame oil, and grated ginger in a large bowl.
Mix thoroughly until the ingredients are evenly coated in the sauce.
2. Assemble the Egg Rolls
Put an egg roll wrapper on a clean surface, with one corner pointing towards you.
Place a spoonful of the filling on the centre of the wrapper, forming a vertical line.
Fold the bottom corner over the filling, tucking it tightly.
Fold in the left and right corners towards the centre.
Lightly brush the top corner with water to seal the egg roll.
Roll it upwards, pressing gently to ensure it is sealed properly.
Keep doing the same with the remaining wrappers and filling.
3. Fry the Egg Rolls
Heat vegetable oil in either a deep skillet or a deep fryer to 175°C.
Carefully place the egg rolls in the hot oil, seam side down, ensuring not to overcrowd the pan.
Fry the egg rolls for 3 to 4 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy.
Once fried, move the egg rolls from the oil to a plate covered with a paper towel to soak up any extra oil.
4. Serve and Enjoy
Allow the egg rolls to cool slightly before serving.
Serve with your favourite dipping sauce, such as sweet chilli or soy sauce.
How to Make Egg Roll Wrappers
Using store-bought egg roll wrappers saves you time and effort, making it a convenient option for preparing egg rolls at home. But if you prefer to make your egg rolls at home from scratch, including the wrappers, you can easily do it. Making homemade egg roll wrappers is a straightforward process that requires simple ingredients and a bit of patience.
Check out this homemade egg roll wrapper recipe:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Follow these instructions for the best egg roll wrappers:
1. Mix the Dough
Mix the flour and salt until evenly combined.
Gradually add the warm water to the flour mixture while stirring with a fork or a spatula.
Once the dough starts to come together, add the vegetable oil and continue kneading until you form a smooth and elastic dough.
2. Knead the Dough
Sprinkle a small amount of flour on a clean surface, then place the dough on it.
Knead the dough for approximately 5 to 7 minutes using the heel of your hand.
3. Rest the Dough
Form the dough into a ball shape and place it back into the mixing bowl.
Cover the bowl using plastic wrap, then let the dough rest for approximately 30 minutes. This resting period helps to relax the gluten, making the dough easier to work with.
4. Divide the Dough
After resting, divide the dough into smaller portions. You can create 12-16 equal-sized pieces, depending on how large you want your egg roll wrappers.
5. Roll out the Wrappers
Take one piece of the divided dough and flatten it slightly with your hands.
Flatten the dough into a thin, circular shape on a lightly floured surface. Aim for a thickness of about 1-2 mm.
To achieve a round shape, rotate the dough as you roll it, and ensure the edges are evenly thin.
6. Trim the Wrappers
If you prefer perfectly even and round egg roll wrappers, you can use a round cutter or a small plate to trim the edges of the rolled-out dough. This step is optional.
7. Repeat and Stack
Keep rolling out the remaining pieces of dough to create more egg roll wrappers.
As you finish each wrapper, stack them on a plate or tray.
Place a piece of parchment paper between each wrapper to prevent sticking.
Note: Keep the egg roll wrappers covered with plastic wrap while you prepare the fillings to avoid them from drying out.
What Can Egg Roll Fillings Be Made of?
Egg roll fillings can be made from various ingredients. While traditional egg roll fillings often include meat or seafood, there are numerous delicious alternatives to cater to different dietary preferences and tastes.
Here are some popular options for egg roll fillings.
Popular vegetable options include shredded cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, bean sprouts, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and snow peas. A vegetable-based filling is a common choice for vegetarian or vegan egg rolls.
Tofu is a versatile and protein-rich option for vegetarian or vegan egg rolls. It can be diced, crumbled, or marinated to add extra flavour and texture to the filling.
Tempeh is another plant-based protein option that works well in egg roll fillings. It has a firm texture and absorbs flavours beautifully.
Seitan, also known as wheat gluten, is a protein-rich meat substitute that can be sliced or diced for the filling.
Various types of mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster, or portobello, add a savoury and meaty flavour to the filling. They are an excellent option for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian egg rolls.
Bean sprouts bring a fresh and crunchy element to the filling, complementing other ingredients.
Cooked rice noodles can be added to the filling for a softer and more substantial texture.
Cooked and seasoned lentils can be used as a protein-packed and fibre-rich filling option.
Get creative and combine various ingredients to create a filling that suits your taste preferences. For example, a popular combination is shredded cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and tofu.
Are Egg Rolls the Same as Spring Rolls?
While spring rolls and egg rolls are both popular types of Asian appetisers, they differ in their preparation, filling, and cooking methods.
Spring Rolls: Spring rolls are typically made with thin, translucent rice paper wrappers. These wrappers are delicate and become soft and slightly chewy when soaked in water.
Egg Rolls: Egg rolls are made with thicker wheat-based wrappers that are slightly denser and more substantial than spring roll wrappers. These wrappers are often fried to achieve a crispy texture.
Spring Rolls: Spring rolls usually have a light and fresh filling consisting of raw or lightly cooked vegetables, herbs, rice vermicelli, and sometimes shrimp or cooked meat. The focus is on the natural flavours of the ingredients.
Egg Rolls: Egg rolls typically have a heartier filling that includes cooked and seasoned meat, cabbage, carrots, and sometimes mushrooms. The filling is often sautéed before being wrapped.
3. Cooking Method
Spring Rolls: Spring rolls are often served fresh or are briefly soaked in water to soften the rice paper before serving. They are not usually fried and maintain a soft, chewy texture.
Egg Rolls: Egg rolls are traditionally deep-fried until golden brown and crispy. The frying process gives them a satisfying crunch and a well-cooked, flavourful filling.
Spring Rolls: Spring rolls have a transparent appearance due to their rice paper wrappers, allowing the vibrant colours of the ingredients to be visible from the outside.
Egg Rolls: Egg rolls have a golden-brown appearance with a crispy texture on the outside, concealing the filling within.
5. Region of Origin
Spring Rolls: Spring rolls are commonly associated with Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Thailand, where they are popular street food and appetisers.
Egg Rolls: Egg rolls are more closely linked to Chinese cuisine, particularly in American-Chinese cuisine, where they are a staple on many Chinese restaurant menus in the States.
How to Serve Your Egg Rolls?
The way you serve egg rolls can add to the overall dining experience. Here are some basic tips for serving your homemade egg rolls.
Egg rolls are best served while they are still hot and crispy.
Arrange the egg rolls on a serving platter or plate. You can leave them whole or cut them diagonally into halves for easier sharing.
Offer a variety of dipping sauces to accompany the egg rolls. Common choices include sweet and sour sauce, plum sauce, soy sauce, or spicy mustard.
For an extra touch, consider adding some garnishes to the platter. Common options include fresh cilantro leaves, thinly sliced green onions, or sesame seeds.
Egg rolls pair well with other Asian-inspired dishes like fried rice, stir-fried vegetables, or noodle dishes.
Tips and Tricks for Making Perfect Egg Rolls
Making egg rolls is easy, but perfecting them may take a little practice. Check out these helpful tips to ensure your egg rolls turn out absolutely perfect.
Proper Wrapping Technique: When wrapping the egg rolls, make sure to seal them tightly to prevent the filling from spilling out during frying.
Avoid Overfilling: A moderate amount of filling will ensure even cooking and a crispy texture.
Keep the Wrappers Moist: Cover the unused egg roll wrappers with a damp cloth or plastic wrap while assembling the rolls to prevent them from drying out.
Drain Excess Oil: After frying, place the cooked egg rolls on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil and maintain their crispiness.
Prevent Oil Temperature Fluctuations: Fry the egg rolls in small batches to avoid sudden drops in oil temperature, which can result in soggy rolls.
Fry at the Right Temperature: Maintain the oil temperature around 175°C for the perfect golden-brown and crispy exterior.
Variation in Fillings: Experiment with different combinations of vegetables, proteins, and seasonings to suit your taste preferences.
Precook Fillings if Needed: Ensure that any meat or vegetables in the filling are properly cooked and seasoned before assembling the egg rolls to avoid raw or undercooked ingredients.
Freezing Option: If you have leftover egg rolls, you can freeze them for later. Reheat frozen egg rolls in the oven to regain their crispiness.
From their roots in Chinese traditions to their modern-day popularity, egg rolls have journeyed through time and cultures to become a beloved appetiser cherished by food enthusiasts everywhere. Don’t be afraid to put your unique spin on egg rolls! Consider incorporating different flavours and cultural influences to create your signature egg roll recipe.