(April 9, 2021) Sometimes an unfortunate situation can have a happy ending.
Just recently, mother came to spend the weekend with me. We decided to patronize a popular eating establishment for “happy hour” and order a few appetizers.
One appetizer in particular sparked our interest; which amounted to a seafood egg roll.
Disappointment filled the air. While the exterior was crispy and the sauce had an interesting taste, the filling was mushy, bland and no distinct seafood was apparent.
At that point, I decided to experiment and come up with my own recipe for this popular appetizer that graces menus across the Eastern Shore.
Sometimes the art of deconstruction gives one a better understanding of a particular dish.
The perfect egg roll consists of three main components: a crispy exterior, a fresh filling and a delectable dipping sauce. If one of these elements is not spot on, dissatisfaction comes to the forefront.
The filling of an egg roll is a matter of personal preference. Cabbage, Napa cabbage, or bok choy are the standard fillers.
Scallions, carrots, water chestnuts, celery, Chinese celery and bean sprouts are other additions for a tasty egg roll.
You want to stay away from vegetables that are difficult to shred such as broccoli, cauliflower, string beans, etc.
Frozen vegetables are also not advised, for the simple fact that they become soggy when thawed.
Whatever protein you decide to use, cut it so it is the star of the dish. If one is making a shrimp roll, it is imperative that your guests can taste and see the shrimp.
Biting into a crisp, shrimp egg roll with no hunks of shrimp is anticlimax at best.
Once you have your filling completed, using paper towels, squeeze out any excess liquid. The filling must be dry or it will make the actual egg roll soggy.
When folding the egg roll, it is imperative to make sure it is completely enclosed. Otherwise, oil will seep into the egg roll and it will become an oily mess.
When it comes time to frying the egg rolls, make sure the oil is hot. Do not overcrowd the pan, or the temperature of your oil will drop causing the rolls to become soggy.
Once they are cooked, place them on a cooling rack. Do not place them on a plate lined with paper towels. Crisp egg rolls resting on soggy paper towels will ruin your efforts for a crunchy exterior.
There are many options when it comes to the dipping sauce. A sweet and spicy sauce pairs very well with the savory rolls.
Duck sauce combined with orange marmalade, red pepper jelly, crushed red pepper seeds, and lime zest are delicious additives and result in a quick, tasty dipping sauce.
Outdoor entertaining will soon be in full swing. As you get the grills fired up, shrimp and crab egg rolls accompanied with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce is an innovative appetizer that will send your guests home in awe. Enjoy!
Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce
½ cup duck sauce
¼ cup orange marmalade
1/3 cup red pepper jelly
1/8 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 splash rice vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
½ teaspoon lime zest
½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper seeds
a pinch of kosher salt
1. Combine the ingredients thoroughly and place in the intended serving container. Set aside until ready to use.
Shrimp and Crab Egg Rolls
2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
2 cups bean sprouts
2 green onions (white and green parts) finely sliced
1 ½ teaspoons chopped garlic in a jar, drained
¼ cup matchstick slices of bamboo shoots
¼ cup matchstick slices of carrots
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro, and extra for a garnish
12 (16 to 20) count frozen shrimp, coarsely chopped
1 cup claw meat
8 to 10 egg roll wrappers
1 egg white, lightly beaten
canola oil for sautéing and frying
1. Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil and swirl to coat the pan.
Add cabbage, bean sprouts, onions, garlic, bamboo shoots, carrots, cilantro, shrimp and crab meat. Cook until shrimp turns an opaque color. Remove filling and place on a sheet pan to cool.
2. Once the filling has cooled, using paper towels, squeeze out any excess liquid.
3. Place an egg roll wrapper on the countertop in front of you, with the corner at the top position and a corner closest to you. Brush egg whites along the sides of the egg roll.
4. Place approximately 3 tablespoons of egg roll filling toward the top of the wrapper. Fold the top of the wonton wrapper over the filling.
Using your left hand, push back to tighten the wrapper and filling. Roll the egg roll slightly toward you. Tuck each end in, and continue rolling the wrapper toward you until you have an egg roll shape.
5. Wash the large sauté pan and completely dry. Fill enough oil to cover at least half of the egg roll.
6. Fry until the bottom side has achieved a golden-brown color. Very carefully, turn the egg roll over and cook again until a golden-brown color is achieved on the other side.
7. Place egg rolls on a cooling rack for 2 minutes.
8. Serve immediately with spicy duck dipping sauce and garnish with fresh cilantro.
Secret Ingredient – Experimentation
All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson