Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cambodian Eggrolls

I don't know a single person that doesn't like my mother's homemade eggrolls.  They are fun and delicious.  Every family has their own special recipe for eggrolls.  I've noticed with different Southeast Asian nationalities, the recipe varies.

Vietnamese eggrolls tend to have black fungus mushrooms, shrimp and more glass noodles.  Similarly, Chinese eggrolls that I've had at dim sum also has mushrooms and the vegetables are more chopped course. Cambodian eggrolls tend to include taro, a root vegetable native to Southeast Asia.

The recipe below is my mother's recipe.  We usually prepare hundreds at a time and freeze them.  When we are craving the eggrolls or planning a gathering, we just take them out of the freezer and fry them to a golden deliciousness!

Ground Pork from Market Basket
Recipe: Yields 300 eggrolls
Time: 5- 6 HOURS
  • 12 packages of eggroll paper
  • Ground Pork 7 lbs
  • Shredded carrots
  • 3 large cabbages
  • 2 bags of thin glass noodles (in pink bag)
  • 1 small taro
  • 3 Onions
  • 4 large carrots
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fried Garlic
  • 1 bunch of scallions
  • Chicken bouillon powder
  • One large egg yolk or starch glue (recipe below) 
  • Optional: Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
**Note, it is extremely important to keep the ground pork refrigerated until the very last step.  Any ground meat is easily susceptible to develop bacteria and cause food poisoning. Many people make the mistake of leaving the meat out too long and this causes a mildly sour flavor in the eggrolls which is a cause of food gone bad.

The most annoying part of making eggrolls is prepping the vegetables.  All the vegetables have to be shredded by a mandolin or a hand shredder.

Wash and cut the cabbages in half.  Shred the cabbages using a mandolin.  I have an Asian version that my mother bought me but you can use any fancy one from a kitchen store as well.
Green Cabbage
Using Mandolin to shred cabbage
Shredded Cabbage
Once shredded, the cabbage is salted to draw out the water and squeezed and washed several times below.  Pour salt generously onto the shredded cabbage and start squeezing until water is released from the vegetables.

After a good amount of water is visible, wash the salt off the cabbage and squeeze the cabbage again.  This step is done so that the cabbage is not slimy and cause the eggrolls to be soggy.

Squeezed Salted Cabbage
Rinsed Cabbage (after being squeezed)
Repeat the same steps for carrots and onions.  (You can purchase the carrots already shredded or use a hand tool to shred the carrots)

Shredding Carrots
Salted, squeezed carrots
Shredded Onions
Salted, shredded onion
Remove the thick skin from the taro and use the hand shredder to shred the taro.  You do not need to salt and remove water from the taro.


Shredded Taro
Slice the green onions into small rings.  This is an optional ingredient since there is already onions in the mixture. I like to use the green onions for the color.

Sliced Green Onion
Soak the rice vermicilli in hot tap water and let it sit for 5 minutes.  Drain the noodles and use a scissor to cut the noodles into smaller two inch pieces.

Glass Noodles
Combine the vegetables, noodles, ground pork in a large mixing bowl.

Fried Garlic
Now its time to add seasoning:
  • 5 tablespoons of black peppers
  • 2 Tablespoons of salt
  • 5 tablespoons of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of fried garlic in oil
  • 3 tablespoons of chicken bouillon powder
  • optional: 3 tablespoons of MSG

Some folks like to add oyster sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce.  I prefer not to.

Egg Roll mixture
If you do not want to use your hands to mix the ingredients, you can use a electronic mixer.

This is what the mixture should look like once mixed.

I like to try a sample of the mixture in case its too bland or too salty.  Some people microwave a tablespoon of the mixture but i like to pan fry it.  heat a small non-stick skillet and add a tablespoon of the mixture. Fry until the mixture is cooked (slightly brown). Let is cool and taste the mixture.  If its too bland, add some salt. If its too salt, add a bit of sugar or any left over ingredients (such as pork, vegetables or noodles)

It is unlikely that you will be able to roll all the eggrolls fast enough, so I strongly urge you to portion out the filling to two bowls and cover and refrigerate one immediately.

Gather your supplies to start rolling eggrolls. I prefer to use a cutting board, baking tray (to hold the eggrolls), freezer storage bags, fork, egg yolk or starch glue. I position myself on the dining table with a view to the TV since rolling the eggrolls is time consuming.

(My mom prefers to make her own starch glue from a combination of equal parts of corn starch and water mixed together and microwaved for 45 seconds.  The mixture is a gluey consistency and used to bind the eggroll wrapper together.)

This is the eggroll wrapper that I prefer to use when making eggrolls. Make sure the eggroll paper is thawed in the plastic wrapper before using.  It is nearly impossible to roll with frozen paper as it tends to rip when you try to pull them apart from each other.
Egg roll Pastry Wrapper
Place the wrapper in a triangle on your cutting board or plate.

Using a fork, add 2 tablespoons of the pork filling mixture slightly above the bottom of the triangle.

Use your fingers to take the bottom of the wrapping paper and cover the top of the pork mixture, try to be as tight as possible with no air pockets.

Roll the mixture up until you get to the middle of the two side left and right triangles and stop.
Fold the side triangles into the middle of the roll.

Continue to roll the eggroll towards the top of the paper, continuing to be tight as possible.

Once you reached the top of the paper, dab your finger in the egg yolk or starch glue and rub it on the tip of the paper. Continue to roll up until it becomes a roll.

I like to fill up my baking tray and start to pack them in freezer bags as I go.  For every 30-40 eggrolls, I make, I bag them and freeze immediately so they do not sit out at room temperature longer than necessary.

It took me about 3 and a half hours to roll all the eggrolls by myself.  Usually, this is a joint family activity with mothers and sisters and aunts all working together to get the task done, so the time is definitely shaved when working with a group.

I prefer to fry my eggrolls frozen so they don't break apart. DO NOT THAW THE EGGROLLS BEFORE FRYING.

Heat a large wok with frying oil to a medium temperature, do not set on high as the eggrolls will burn before the mixture is thoroughly cooked.  

Remove the frozen eggrolls from the freezer bag.  Sometimes they are stuck together and may need some force to break them apart. I like to slam them on a clean counter top and they easily break apart.

Once the oil warms up, fry the eggrolls on medium heat for about 10 minutes.  Do not overcrowd the eggrolls as the frozen eggrolls naturally brings down the temperature of the oil and will become soggy. I prefer to fry 12-15 eggrolls at time, depending on how large the wok is.  

After the eggrolls float up (which is after 10 minutes) and they are a golden brown, remove from the oil onto a bed of paper towels to help drain any excess oil.

Let them cool and serve with sweet chili sauce.

You can also serve them cut up in "Banh Hoi" noodle salad with sweet fish sauce.

Banh Hoi with sliced rib eye and eggrolls

Banh Hoi with Fried Shrimp and Sliced roasted pork and eggrolls
cha gio
Banh hoi with grilled chicken, eggrolls and fried sweet potato
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