When I was a kid we used to go to the Hunan Garden in Rochester, MN whenever we wanted to eat out. The dish we loved best was the egg rolls. They would always serve them with the neon-orange sweet and sour sauce, that tannish-yellow hot mustard, and some kind of chili oil. They were the absolute best egg rolls I had ever eaten. (They were also the first egg rolls I had ever eaten—it’s funny how that works.)
I really love egg rolls, so why then has it taken me over 40 years to finally try making them at home? This is my first attempt at making them, and I have no idea why I waited so long. Maybe I thought they would be too difficult, or that they wouldn’t be as good as the originals. Whatever the reason, I will now make them much more often.
The process is very simple: brown the meat, sauté the veggies, roll the rolls, and fry. For the meat I used ground venison that I cut with a little bacon fat.
1 lbs. ground venison
2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup diced wild mushrooms (shitakes would work if you don’t have wild mushrooms)
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 cups shredded cabbage
2 carrots, shredded
½ of a white onion, thinly sliced
1 quart oil, to fry (I used peanut oil)
Egg roll wrappers
Mix the meat with dark soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. Let that marinate for about 30 minutes before cooking. While the meat is marinating, chop all the veggies. I also rehydrated some hen of the woods mushrooms that I picked last fall. Brown the venison over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes, then add the chopped mushrooms. After a couple more minutes, transfer the meat and mushroom mixture to a bowl and set aside.
With the fat left in the pan, quickly sauté the veggies and mix the meat back into the veggies. You don’t want to overcook the veggies—they should still be a little crisp. This is the filling for the egg rolls. Lay out an egg rolls wrapper so that it looks like a diamond in front of you and add about 1/3 cup of filling to the center of the wrapper. Fold the nearest corner of the wrapper towards the top away from you and start to roll the egg roll. Fold both sides in to contain all the fill and finish rolling. At the end, use a paste made from 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of water to seal the egg rolls. Repeat this process until you have used all the filling.
All of the filling ingredients were previously cooked so when you fry these all you’re doing is getting a nice crisp golden brown on the wrapper. This recipe makes about 15 egg rolls, so if you want to freeze some for later all you have to do is put them on a baking sheet and then place them in a freezer for 2-3 hours. Once frozen, you can vacuum seal them or place them in a zip lock bag and freeze them for later use.
When you are ready to fry the egg rolls, heat your oil to 375 degrees. Working in batches, fry 5 to 6 egg rolls at a time depending on the size of your fryer. Fry for 5 to 7 minutes until golden brown. Let them drain, cool, and enjoy.