There is nothing like an egg roll with a deliciously seasoned filling and a crisp, golden outside.
I have tried both raw filling and pre-cooked filling when making egg rolls. They are both good, yielding slightly different flavors and textures. Using raw filling gives a juicer egg roll, and less prone to being dry when reheated. Egg rolls with pre-cooked filling have a deeper flavour due to the Maillard reaction during browning. Cooking the filling is also a safer bet when you are using thinner spring roll wrappers, or if you have difficulty gauging when the rolls are finished frying.
Egg rolls are a great make-ahead recipe. So whip up a batch, wrap well, and freeze. I typically freeze my rolls, prior to frying them, for up to 3 days. However, you can freeze after frying if it works better for you.
1 pound ground pork, chicken, beef, or other choice meat or meat substitute
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root
4 green onions, chopped small
3 Tablespoons finely diced carrots (optional)
1 1/2 Tablespoons fish sauce or soy sauce
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups thinly shredded Napa or green cabbage
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrot
1 egg (optional)
Water or slurry. A slurry is 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 2 tablespoons cold water
1 package egg roll wrappers or spring roll wrappers. I like the TYJ Spring Roll brand
Vegetable oil, for sauteing and frying
Specialty items as needed: food thermometer, air fryer
1. Mix the fish sauce (or soy sauce), oyster sauce, sesame oil, and Chinese 5 spice in a small bowl. Set aside.
2. If using pre-cooked filling: Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic, ginger, green onions, and carrots for 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the meat. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes until lightly browned. Pour over the fish sauce mixture and mix well. Transfer to a plate. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Saute the cabbage and carrot for 2 to 3 minutes until just tender. Add the meat mixture and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool completely.
3. If using raw filling: Add the fish sauce mixture, meat, ginger, garlic, green onions, carrot, egg, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to a bowl. Mix thoroughly to combine. Savvy tip: test the flavours by poaching or sauteeing 2 teaspoons of the meat mixture. Adjust the seasoning with salt.
4. Rolling: place the egg roll or spring roll wrapper on a clean dry surface with one corner towards you. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling about 1 inch from the corner nearest you. Take the corner near you over and fold it over the meat filling. Start to roll away from you, until half the wrapper is rolled up. Fold both sides towards the center of the roll. Moisten the top corner with water or slurry and complete a tight roll. Savvy tip: See the video below for illustration! Also, keep the wrappers that you are not using wrapped in plastic wrap or covered with a towel, so they do not dry out.
5. Deep-fry method: Fill a wok or deep pot with 1-inch of oil. Heat the oil to 375°F/190°C. If you are using a thicker egg roll wrapper, reduce to 350°F/175°C. Add 4 - 6 egg rolls, depending on the size of your pot. Do not crowd the pan else the egg rolls may stick and the oil temperature may drop, preventing you from getting a crisp roll. Fry for 4 - 6 minutes until golden on all sides and cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, blotting with paper towel to remove excess oil.
6. Ary-fry method: follow the manufacturer's guide for best results. Set your air fryer or air crisp to 380°F. Place the egg rolls in the crisp basket in a single layer. Air fry for 15 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
Extra. Extra! If you have leftover raw filling, roll them into a ball and make meatballs!