We have been spoiled by a great little place tucked into a shopping center where we used to live. Run by a brother and sister, they had the best of everything! Great egg rolls, delicious wonton soup, fabulous garlic beef, excellent cashew chicken.... everything we've tried comes out just perfect! Whenever we make a trip back to our old haunts, we always make a point to have a meal there.
What's a girl to do when she has a craving for chinese and doesn't want to drive 2 hours to get it? Well, learn to make her own, of course!
First, I started buying those kits and mixes at the store. Then I started to experiment with recipes I'd find here and there. Now, I make my own sauces and flavorings almost completely from scratch and I dare say they taste better than the chinese place does!
I'll be sharing 2 recipes for chinese food: Egg rolls and Beef stir-fry. Today will be the egg rolls and tomorrow is the Stir-fry.
Don't be afraid to try this. The most difficult part is the prep-work. Chinese food is all about the chopping and cutting and mincing and dicing and slicing. Once you finish chopping and cutting and mincing and dicing and slicing, the easy part comes next: the cooking!
Here we go!
You'll also need Oyster sauce and egg roll wraps. I am amazed my little small town grocery store carries this stuff! Amazed I tell you! Add about 2 tablespoons of the oyster sauce to the pan and stir to combine.
The egg roll wrappers are kept in the fruit and vegetable section of the store, mine keeps it near the tofu and organic stuff. They need to be kept refrigerated or they turn black. Trust me, I know.
This is what it'll look like after getting everything mixed in together and it has cooked down a little bit. Your kitchen will start to smell like a chinese restaurant! Inhale deeply and sample the mixture! Go ahead- I won't tell!
Let it cook about 5 minutes then remove from heat and let it cool until you can handle it with your hands. In the meantime, get a pan of vegetable oil warmed up and ready to fry. You could use peanut oil if you like, but I asked the kindly sister that ran the chinese food place what oil they used and she told me vegetable because they didn't want to risk food allergies with peanut oil. So we use vegetable oil 'cause we like her egg rolls.
When the mixture is cool enough to handle, take a single egg roll wrapper and lay it down like a diamond. Place about 2 tablespoons of mixture in the center.
Fold up the bottom...
Fold over the sides... and dip a finger in a bowl of water and wet the top corner.
Fold down the top corner that has been wetted and then put it aside. Repeat until mixture is gone or wrappers are gone, whichever comes first. I like to use up all the wrappers and then freeze the extra egg rolls for another time. If you used up all the mixture and only have 2 or 3 wrappers left, you can cut it into strips and fry 'em for those crispy strips they use for wonton soup. My kids eat them as fast as I can fry them!
When the oil is ready, fry up the egg rolls, 2 or 3 at a time, turning to cook evenly, until golden brown. Can you hear that sizzle?
Drain cooked egg rolls on wire rack or paper towels. You can serve these with any of those chinese dipping sauces-- hot mustard, sweet and sour sauce, or duck sauce. They taste good straight up, too!
Wasn't that easy? I'm telling you, the hardest part is the chopping of the vegetables! I make chinese food often, so investing in a mandolin slicer was worth it for me. You can find them for cheap, as low as $20. Unless you are a professional chef, I don't recommend shelling out big bucks for a mandolin. I also use the mandolin for when I make pickles or for slicing corn off the cob or making potato chips. Be careful, though, those blades are sharp! I've cut myself on them enough to testify to that!
Come back tomorrow for chinese beef stir-fry with mixed vegetables!