I have a friend who came from Vietnam after the war. She or should I say Lisa is a gifted baker and cook. For my recent birthday she presented me with a professionally decorated mocha flavored cake, with layers and frosting of delicate butter cream. The piping, flowers, and writing were all done perfectly in pastel shades. Lisa told me her mother had previously owned a bakery in Saigon before the war and made sure to pass on her skills to her. Lisa also brags about her egg rolls. I had an idea!!
Could I reproduce a relatively close copy of a Vietnamese egg roll using kosher ingredients? Sure, I would try. We substituted vegetarian Hoisin sauce for Oyster sauce and found Chinese noodles with kosher certification We substituted dried Shitake mushrooms for some dried fungus she uses and Kosher wrappers are available, maybe not as thin as the ones from the Vietnamese grocery store but they worked just fine. The big revelation to me was making them with ground chicken. The ground chicken gives them a great texture and makes it very easy to roll up and form.
So for all of these weekend occasions like Super Bowl Sunday or Game Day or Academy Award Day this is another finger food or appetizer for your crowd.
yield 24 to 30
1 pound ground chicken breast
1 cup (about one) carrot minced
2/3 cup minced taro root
1 cup Chinese bean thread noodles or vermicelli
2/3 cup rehydrated dried Shitake mushrooms, minced
2 to 3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
sea salt and fresh pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons beaten whole egg
Prepared egg roll wrappers, about 5 inch by 5 inch size
1 egg white, beaten
2 or more quarts, Peanut or Safflower oil for frying
substitute 1/2 cup jicama minced
and 1/2 cup cabbage minced for Taro root
Place ground chicken breast in a medium bowl. add minced carrot, taro or other vegetables to chicken. Rinse or rehydrate bean threads. Drain noodles in a strainer. Cut bean threads in one inch length pieces with a scissor. Rehydrate mushrooms, drain and mince. Add mushrooms and bean threads to ground chicken. Add Hoisin sauce to season chicken along with salt and pepper. Add egg one tablespoon at a time to create a sticky consistency that will hold together enough to use as filling for egg roll wrappers.
Place four egg roll wrappers on your work surface at a time. Place about 1 and 1/ 2 tablespoons of filling on a diagonal in one corner. Beginning rolling from the point in the corner where filling is. Roll over filling as if to roll a cigar. Roll twice tightly then, fold in the two sides. Continue to roll cigar fashion one more roll. Dip you finger in beaten egg whites and moisten remaining portion of flat egg roll wrapper. Finish rolling egg roll wrapper into a tight cigar and seal with egg white.
Pour oil into a deep saucepan or a deep fryer. Fill fryer to about 3 inch depth or more. Oil should not be to near surface, the pan needs to be deep. Heat oil to about 365° F. If you are using a saucepan you will need to keep adjusting oil while you are frying all egg rolls as temperature varies while you fry.
When oil reaches the right temperature begin to fry. Fry until golden brown, carefully remove egg rolls from oil and drain on paper towels. Do not crowd the fryer. Serve egg rolls with more Hoisin sauce or Chinese mustard or whatever sauce you prefer.
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