Of course, I tend to much prefer spring rolls, mostly for the difference in wrapper. Funny enough, my sources tell me that the difference between the egg roll and spring roll wrappers involves egg. Yes, odd as it may sound, no egg is involved in the egg roll. The spring roll, on the other hand, is brushed with it. Go figure.
Anywho, without further ado (and yeah, I will get to the other recipes & meal scheduling of the Valentine's Feast... maybe tomorrow? =) here it is:
- 6 thin sliced center cut pork chops
- 8 oz plum sauce (Sun Luck Golden Plum Sauce)
- Eden Organic Tamari
- Eden Selected Ume Plum Wine Vinegar
- Ground ginger, to taste
- 1.25 cups canola, sesame, or safflower oil
- 10-12 shiitake mushrooms
- 2 stalks bok choy
- 1 lg. onion
- 2-5 cloves garlic
- 1 yellow pepper
- 1 ginger root, peeled
- 6-10 scallions
- 2 med or 1 lg carrot
- 1 can water chestnuts
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- Ground chipotle pepper, to taste
- 1 pkg. egg roll wrappers
- duck sauce or sweet and sour sauce
I've never really tried any other plum sauces or any other brand of egg roll wrappers, so those exact flavors are up to you. I have, however, tried other tamari ~ even other Eden tamari ~ and I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that the product will be discontinued because the difference between it and other soy sauces is rather like the difference between, say, a Lamborghini Murciélago R-GT and an Edsel, provided the Edsel is rusted out and has been pressed flat by a car crusher. It is the difference between, say, the Berlin Philharmonic and an Edsel, rusted out, pressed flat, and set on a balance so it squeaks. It is the difference, say, between a fine wine and raw sewage. There is just no comparison.
I haven't tried any other plum wine vinegars, but I do have to say I'm impressed with the Ume plum wine vinegar, and it is far superior to the rice wine vinegar I'd used up to this point.
Speaking of points, time to get to it. Here's the recipe:
Pre-heat oven to 350.
De-fatify the pork chops. Slice them into thin strips - maybe a quarter or three-eighths of an inch wide. Cut them in half (roughly an inch long at most). Place them in a glass baking dish. Cover with the plum sauce. Add some tamari and Ume plum wine vinegar. Sprinkle with ground ginger.
Bake until tender, basting regularly with the juices.
The core of the egg roll recipe is to make a stir fry. The only difference is that you chop almost everything finely instead of leaving it in slivers. You can leave some things in slivers and it will work, but it's neater to eat if it's all chopped up.
Set out four plates and two cutting stations - one for the initial prep and the other for the chopper.
The initial prep has some variations depending on the ingredient. The mushrooms should be washed, de-stalked, and thin sliced ~ these were the only ones I left in this form. Everything else should be washed and cut into 1 inch or so chunks, slices, bits, cubes, or whatever's easiest to get them to a size of 1 cubic inch at most. The cloves of garlic just need to be peeled and have the fibrous ends chopped off. The ginger root has to be peeled and then cut into chunks. The carrots should be peeled, if desired, and then cut into chunks. The water chestnuts just need to be opened and drained, possibly peeled if they're in their virgin state (most aren't). The sesame seeds just need to be measured out.
Next stage is to chop everything. For me, I've found that our veggie chopper does great on ten cycles. I lay out enough of one item to fill but not clog, give it ten swats, and then shift the ingredients to one of four plates.
The following is the layout for the ingredients above, plus other possibilities I've used in stir fry but not for egg rolls:
Plate 1: onion, ginger, garlic, broccoli
Plate 2: carrots, cabbage, bok choy
Plate 3: peppers, zucchini, bamboo shoots
Plate 4: water chestnuts, sesame seeds, mushrooms, mung bean sprouts, scallions, snow peas, baby corn
It doesn't matter so much what order you chop it, so long as each bit gets sorted out according to the grand scheme. That's how we're going to judge cook time.
Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in a cast iron wok (first choice) or skillet (needs more oil).
Scoop the pork from the baking dish, draining as much sauce as possible back into the baking dish, and stir fry for a few minutes, until browned.
Return the pork to the sauce in the baking dish. Wipe out the wok.
Heat a similar portion of oil as the first go-round for the pork.
Once it's at temperature (hint: fling a single tiny drop of water at the oil; if it sizzles, it's ready), scrape the contents of plate #1 into the wok and begin doing the stir fry thing, which is to say, keep the contents constantly moving.
Add in some tamari and vinegar ~ more of the former, less of the latter ~ and, if you don't count fresh chopped ginger as an ingredient, be sure to add some ground ginger. Add the ground chipotle to give it a bit of a kick.
After the first plate has cooked for about 2 minutes, add the second plate, and then follow up with another plate about every 2 minutes. Remember, it's stir fry: keep those veggies moving! I've noticed that the bok choy releases a helluva lot of water. You want to cook that stage a bit longer, or, like I did, use a couple of paper towels to creatively absorb some of that extra water. If you don't you'll 1) boil the veggies instead of stir fry them; and 2) end up with soggy egg rolls going into the fryer.
The last plate really doesn't need a full 2 minutes ~ in fact, if you want, you can pull it from the heat before adding that plate. I didn't, but I like those last minute veggies to see a few stirs of the ol' fry, as it were.
If you're making stir fry, you're done: add the pork to the wok, stir one last time and serve. If you're making egg rolls, the part with the eggs will never happen, but the rolling is coming right up. Add the veggies to the pork and sauce in the glass baking dish. Stir in thoroughly.
Clean up your dishes and stuff so far because you need a bit of a break, right? In my case, I also need counter space.
Set out about 4 plates, each with a paper towel, in the prep area. Set 2 more plates & paper towels to the "done" side of the range top. Get out a little bowl with water, a pastry brush, the egg roll wrappers, a serving spoon, a clean dish cloth, and one or two plates. If you're doing this with two cooks, use two plates; if you're doing it solo, get some plastic wrap to cover the egg roll wrappers between uses. You may want to do the latter step even with two, to prevent the wrappers from drying out ~ we moved fast enough, and had no troubles.
Set a single wrapper ~ and double check that it is just one; first time making these we had quite a few wanna-be doubles that slowed things down and made things messy ~ on the plate (or, really, a clean working surface; I suppose the plates only work well for assembly-line style passing of the plate...) so that it's got a point towards you, not a flat line.
Scoop out about 1/2 a cup of stir fry (really, we just used a non-measuring scoop and eye balled it; I have no clue how much it was exactly) and lay it out in a horizontal line, from the left to right corners, about an inch in and no more than an inch or so wide (again, we just eyeball it).
Fold the right corner over the filling so the point is a little more than half way ~ it should just tug at a bit of the filling. Brush the right corner ~ just a single swipe or two ~ with water.
Fold the left corner over the top of the right corner. Brush the left corner and the bottom corner with water.
Fold the bottom corner up, again just tugging at the filling. Brush the bottom corner and the top corner with water.
See, so far all we've done so far is fold it. "Egg Fold" or "Egg Origami" might be more accurate, except there's no egg involved, as I've pointed out so many times the joke's old already. But this is it ~ the turning point.
Starting from the bottom, roll towards that last top corner. That's it. That's the roll.
Set on a paper towel. I do five a plate. Given that there's usually about 20 wrappers in a package, that's the four plates. Obviously, if you have more or less, adapt to it. I didn't do the paper towels the first time: I stacked them in a single dish and wound up repentant and vowing I'd never wind up with another soggy, wet, falling-apart embarrassment of a lump, and would instead find myself in the company of decent, fine upstanding egg rolls from here on out. So if you were thinking of skipping that step, don't. It isn't very pretty, and egg unrolls are much less pleasant to eat.
Wipe the plate clean and start another. Roll 'em all. Or, rather, fold 'em and roll 'em.
Once they're done, get a cup of oil and pour it in a 1.5 qt saucepan. Heat to medium high.
Set the plates with the rolls on them on one side, the empty plates on the other. This step might take more prep if you're doing it solo; with two, one can do the frying while the other takes empty plates of the "raw" rolls, wipes them clean, brings more plates of rolls to be cooked over, takes plates of cooked rolls away, and sets up more paper toweled plates for more finished rolls. This allows one person to focus on the hot oil, a task which takes some care and respect. Because the rolling process ~ and dripping filling ~ can leave the outside wet, I like to give them as much time on the paper towel as possible. Get them to dry out a bit. Less splatter and more staying together.
Using tongs, lower a roll into the oil.
Now, my source specifies 3-4 minutes for the first side, turn the roll, and 1-2 minutes on the second side. My source also specified the medium high heat. I use things on the lower side of medium high, and it's more like 1-2 minutes the first side, 30 seconds on the second. My first batch included some so overcooked it wasn't funny. This batch was much easier. You need to understand the rhythm of your stove and oil temperature. Just watch it, if it looks golden brown flip it. In any case, the second side takes far less time than the first, and it also gets faster as it goes along.
Once they're done, hold the roll over the oil a moment to drip, and then set aside on a paper towel and plate. I'm weird, I do five plates for this stage, four rolls a piece. Give them room to ooze off some of that oil.
Once you're done, get the burner off and get the oil off the burner.
Serve immediately, with duck sauce, once they're done.
You can freeze and re-heat, but they've never lasted long enough to make it to leftovers, so you're guess is as good as mine as to how that will come out.
Clean up tip: before cooking anything with oil splatter, cover the other burners (particularly on electric ranges) with overturned plates of appropriate sizes. Cuts down on the smoking burners next time you cook.
Vegetarinify this by using tofu instead of pork (instead of letting that sit in a sauce like I did with the pork, you're allegedly supposed to let it drain after cooking). You could also use shrimp or chicken, I suppose, although their cooking methods might change.