Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chinese Take-Out via Homemade: Egg Rolls and Sesame Noodles

I love Chinese food, but always feel a minor sense of shame when I see the number of fortune cookies they include with my meal - five as of our last order.  FIVE fortune cookies?  Do you think we ordered enough food for FIVE whole people? (It's just the husband and I.)  Well, to be fair... you might have a point.

30 grease-filled minutes later, I'm stuffed full and yet know that I'll be eating cold lo mein noodles in front of the fridge a few hours down the road.  It's habit forming.  So, in an effort to make our indulgence a little lighter - and truthfully, to use up a lot of cabbage and carrots from our CSA - I set out to make a few different recipes.
Two of my favorite dishes are egg rolls and sesame noodles, and they're dead simple to make.  And since you can make both ahead of time (except for browning the egg rolls), it's an awesome thing to whip up on a Sunday so you've got a quick meal after a long work day during the week.  I went light on the pork in the egg rolls; I've found some recipes calling for up to a pound but I used only 1/4 lb.  and used more carrots and cabbage instead.

Egg Rolls
Makes 12

1/4 lb. ground pork
1 package egg roll wrappers
1 small head cabbage, finely chopped (about 4 cups)
1 c. finely shredded carrots
4 scallions, finely sliced
1 1/2 tsp. minced ginger
2 cloves garlic
2 T. soy sauce
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
3 T. canola or other neutral oil

Heat 1 T oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When heated, add ground pork.  Break up with a spoon as small as possible.  Once cooked, transfer to a paper towel to drain, leaving any remaining oil in the pan.  Add the ginger, garlic, cabbage, and carrot and cook until the cabbage is softened, 4-5 minutes.  Add the soy sauce, pepper flakes, and scallions and cook 1 minute more.  Turn off the heat and stir in the ground pork.

Set an egg roll wrapper in front of you, so that the corners are pointing left and right, up and down (e.g. a diamond).  Spoon a heaping 2 T. of the filling slightly below the halfway point between the left and right corners.  Fold the bottom corner over the filling, then fold in the side corners.  Brush the top corner with water and roll up tightly, sealing the roll with the moistened top corner.  At this point, the egg rolls can be wrapped in parchment and refrigerated for a week, or frozen for a month.

To cook, heat 2 T. oil over medium heat.  Place the egg rolls into the oil and fry until golden brown all over.  (If you're better at wrapping than me, the egg rolls will be rounder and you can roll them around the skillet to brown all sides.  If you're egg rolls are flatter, like mine, just flip with a spatula.)

Serve immediately - I like mine with a drizzle of soy, or serve with duck sauce.


Sesame Noodles

1 lb. lo mein noodles, cooked and rinsed in cold water (or linguini, if you can't find lo mein noodles)
2 T. sesame oil
3 T. soy sauce
2 T. unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 t. honey
3 T. tahini (sesame paste)
2 T. smooth peanut butter (I use that hippy-ish natural stuff without added sugar)
2 tsp. sambal oelek or other chile-garlic paste
1 T. toasted sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 scallions, finely sliced
1 T. finely minced ginger
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and julienned

 Toss the cooked noodles with the sesame oil in a large bowl.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey, tahini, peanut butter, sambal oelek, garlic, scallions, and ginger.  Pour over the noodles, and add the carrot and bell pepper and toss until well mixed.  Garnish with the toasted sesame seeds.

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