Friday, September 24, 2010

Mrs. Land's Vegan Eggrolls

As regular visitors here may have noticed, I have a new cooking buddy.  Bunnary (buh-NAR-Ee) Land is a good friend of mine who I met after she married Derrick, who is an old friend of my husband's.  She immediately fit right in with the Nixes' sarcastic and silly ways.  She and I have since developed a warm friendship separate from her being "Derrick's wife."  I adore her.

Now, Bunnary's family came to America as refugees from Cambodia when she was two years old.  With that first-generation Asian cultural heritage and her Southern raising in Alabama, let me just say this woman can cook some wicked fusion foods.  She loves eating and being in the kitchen just like I do.  What can I say?  We bonded over cooking and produce.

On one of the last occasions I was invited to a "do" at the Land home, Bunnary made these eggrolls especially for me as part of the spread she put out for guests.  I was touched that she went to so much trouble, and then I ate one.  It was so much better than any other vegetable spring roll I'd ever eaten.  She is a magician.  "You have to teach me to make these," I said.  She agreed, and today, she came over and walked me through it.  I hope you'll try these.  They're super easy, and they are really quick to make.  I promise.

I've included Bunnary's tips all along the way with lots and lots of photos.  Don't let the length of the post frighten you into thinking this is "complicated."  It's anything but, and all the chopping is totally worth it.

As Bunnary likes to say, "Them little ho's is good!"



Mrs. Land's Vegan Eggrolls
There are very few measurements in this recipe, and the reason for that is simple:  you can't screw it up.  Really.  You can change the ingredients around.  You can leave out things you don't like or add things you do like which we have not listed.  Basically, this recipe is a good way to get all the produce that's about to go wobbly on you out of the fridge and into a recipe.  Use what you have.  The staple ingredients for the filling (the ones you really need) are cabbage, glass noodles, and some kind of onion.  Everything else is up to you.  The following ingredients are the ones we used.  

1 package egg-less Wrappers
Shredded Cabbage
Shredded Carrot (we used a vegetable peeler to shave off strips)
Glass Noodles*, softened and cut down to bite-sized lengths
Mushrooms (any kind you like), thinly-sliced
Kale, chopped
Celery, chopped
Green Onion, sliced
Garlic, minced
Cilantro (or parsley), chopped
Canola Oil or Peanut Oil for frying
1/2T Sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

Bunnary Tip #1:  When chopping your vegetables, make sure you cut them in very thin, elongated strips.  Anything chunky or geometric will puncture the wrappers and prevent you from getting the pretty, round rolls you want.

Once you have your ingredients assembled, heat a tablespoon of oil in a wok or large, flat-bottomed pan and begin stir-frying the celery and mushroom.  After the celery begins to soften, add the cabbage, carrot, kale, and garlic.  Stir this around in the pan until all of the vegetables are soft and pliable.


In a large mixing bowl,  toss your cooked vegetables with the glass noodles and green onion.  Now, add the sugar and the cilantro or parsley and mix that in.  Taste the mix and add your salt and pepper accordingly.  That's it!  You're ready to roll them up, now.



Bunnary Tip #2:  Place a damp towel or paper towel over your stack of wrappers once you open them so that they don't dry out.  You need them to stay pliable.  If they are allowed to get too dry, they will crack and break when you try to roll them.

To roll up your eggrolls, place a generous spoon of your filling onto the corner of your wrapper (see picture above, top left).  Roll the corner over your filling and gently move it into the shape you want with your fingers (see picture above, top right).  Remember that the wrappers are delicate, so don't man-handle them.  Fold over each of the sides into the center (see picture above, bottom left).  Roll all the way to the end of your wrapper.  At the last corner, dab a bit of oil on the tip.  This will be the "glue" that keeps it together until you fry it.  Voila!  Now, you're ready to fry.


Heat about 1/2" of oil in your flat-bottomed pan (we used the same pan for cooking the vegetables...just wipe out the remaining clingy pieces with a towel before adding the fry oil).  Add your eggrolls when the oil is bubbles around the end of an eggroll when you dip it in.  We're not chefs, and we didn't take the oil temperature.  We just put them in by the bubble test.  Allow them to sit for a minute until you start to see some golden brown corners (see photo above right).  Turn them over with tongs and repeat.  Once the eggrolls are crispy and brown, remove them to a plate with paper towels to drain.  Voila!  Serve as soon as they've cooled enough to handle.

Bunnary Tip #3
If you don't want to eat all the eggrolls right away, then reserve some without frying.  Keep the unfried rolls in a ziploc in the freezer until you're ready to eat them.  They freeze beautifully and go straight from the freezer to the hot oil.  No need to thaw.


We ate these while they were still so hot they burned our fingers because we couldn't wait.  We used Mae Ploy sweet chili dipping sauce, but you could use anything.  I highly recommend finding a sweet chili sauce for these.  It was to die.

I hope this was a helpful recipe post for you.  Please try these at home.  They are fantastic.  You may never order takeout spring rolls again.


If you are confused by the lack of measurement, you can look in our photo of the ingredients above the recipe title.  The small glass bowls are 1C containers.  The white square measure cups hold 2T of liquid.  The little painted ceramic measuring cups are 1C and 1/2C from top to bottom.  The large glass bowls in the back are the large and small bowls from the standard Pyrex mixing bowl set.

*What the heck are glass noodles, anyway?  Glass noodles can typically be found in the Asian foods section of your grocery store.  The package we bought is pictured above.  Ours were made from mung bean flour, potato starch, and water.  This is typical for glass noodles, and they are almost always vegan.  It is not flavor these noodles provide (they are entirely flavorless), but texture.  It's unlike anything else, but similar to certain crunchy seaweed salads I've eaten.  

Unlike semolina or rice noodles you might be familiar with, these do not require cooking to prepare.  Simply take the desired amount of noodles from your package and put them in a bowl of hot water to soak.  By the time we're ready to use them, they will be ready to use.  Nifty, eh?  IF you choose to omit glass noodles from your eggroll mixture, you will need to double up on the cabbage.  I strongly recommend you not do that.  Get brave and try something new.  Glass noodles are well worth the effort in this recipe.

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