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Oct 27, 2003 08:53 PM

Chicgo eggrolls...peanut butter...?

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What's the deal with the peanut butter in (some) eggrolls in Chicago?

I've experienced Chinese egg rolls in Chicago that contain a small amount of peanut butter. Most recently at (little) Three Happiness in Chinatown. Actually, it's good, but having lived and eaten lots of Chinese food in Tidewater, Va., Washington-Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, and Tuscon, I have never before seen this version and wonder how it came about.

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  1. I've heard of this PB anomaly, but never encountered it. Could you name the establishments proffering such culinary mutations? The eggroll/PB thing's always brought to mind the predominance of PB in Thai-American cuisine. Somewhere along the way some misguided Asian proprietor decided Anglos just LOVE their peanut butter and decided to fashion a faux-asian("oriental") cuisine around said misapprehension. Funny thing is, people actually like it...(shrug).

    10 Replies
    1. re: malcarne

      Paul SL mentions KowKow in Lincolnwood. One of the members of the club where I work brought in you guessed it, eggrolls made with peanut butter, for the family wedding reception. Someone else posted about Chinalite having them. It's just funny that I've never heard of it or seen it elsewhere.

      1. re: Evil Ronnie

        You're right, it sounds really interesting. Eggrolls are so open to individual interpretation from dough to oil to filling(esp. regarding shrimp or no). I've had a love/hate relationship w/eggrolls. Bizarre as it sounds, having finally acclimated myself to them, I've had difficulty in Chicago finding good ones; typically it's the dough that let's me down...something off flavor-wise. Given, I'm not what you'd call an afficianado, I just want decent eggrolls when offered on that vaunted buy 20 dollars worth get 1 free, etc. ON ANOTHER tack: I most enjoy eggrolls with hot chinese mustard. Outside of an Asian market, commercial Chinese mustard's always a disappointment. Online recipes aren't the same. The same way sherry isn't xiaoxing wine. I'm always on the lookout for sinus- bursting mystery mustard in the ubiquitous Chinese restaurant condiment vials. I could ask the purveyors, but that's too easy. Any hints?

        1. re: malcarne

          Malcarne wrote:
          " I'm always on the lookout for sinus- bursting mystery mustard "


          Make you own. Both The Spice House and Penzey's carry Chinese mustard powder, flavorful and hot. Though I prefer The Spice House for most of my spice purchases, they sell by the ounce/pound as opposed to prepackaged, Penzey's has them beat in the Chinese mustard category.

          Penzey's Hot Canadian Chinese Mustard will clear your sinuses with just a whiff, much less three or four tablespoons.

          Don't get me wrong, The Spice House's Chinese Mustard is good, but if you are looking for hot Penzey's Hot Canadian is the way to go.


          1138 West Lake Street
          Oak Park, IL

          The Spice House
          1512 N. Wells Street
          Chicago, Illinois 60610 USA
          Phone: 312-274-0378

          The Spice House
          1941 Central Street
          Evanston, Illinois 60201 USA


          1. re: G Wiv


            I have always been a Colman's mustard guy, but on your recommendation, I will try Spice House or Penzeys. It's time to order black peppercorns again.

            Recently, I bought some Vietnamese cinnamon (ground) from Spice House on Wells, and was amazed at the potency of the stuff.


            1. re: Evil Ronnie


              Colman's is good, but the Hot Canadian from Penzey's will blow you right out of your Chef's Clogs or, if you're off work, your Manolo Blahnik pumps.


              1. re: Evil Ronnie

                Oh, the vietnamese(saigon) cinnamon is yummy. I'll have to dig out my Penzey's catalogs for the hot mustard. It didn't even occur to me to look there(brainfart).

          2. re: Evil Ronnie
            David Hammond

            Evil One,

            I googled egg roll + peanut butter, and the first hit was for a recipe (url below) that uses pb. The site explains that the pate of goober pea provides a cashew-like flavor commonly used in "oriental cooking."

            Personally, if there's pork in the egg roll, this could be a winning combination. Peanut and pig go well together.



          3. re: malcarne

            Below is a link to a review of KowKow on Devon. There is also a Chinese place on Milwaukee near Devon that serves Peanut Butter Egg Rolls along with Evil's Ronnie's favorite: pressed duck, though they serve it with brown sauce and almonds versus sweet and sour sauce. I'm at a loss for the name right now. But, I drive by every day, so I'll post the name tomorrow.


            1. re: YourPalWill


              You thinking of Lin's?

              After reading The Evil One's first Pressed Duck post, back in October 2002, I hit the first likely spot myself, Lin's. A fun, in a very old (old) school American/Chinese way, restaurant, but the pressed duck was a non-starter.

              I will link to my review.



              1. re: G Wiv

                That's it, Ultimo. Lin's. And i agree with your asessment of the pressed duck which was gummy to the point that it triggered a gag reflex when I was eating it last fall when this discussion first came up.

                My memory of the egg rolls was that they had a strong peanut butter flavor.

                The people there were as nice as they could be and the other patrons seemed to be enjoying their non-pressed duck meals. Me thinks it was a case of making a poor menu choice on my part.

          4. actually peanut butter is quite popular in cantonese style egg rolls.

            1 Reply
            1. re: cadet will

              Yes it is, in Chicago.

            2. Oh believe me, as someone with a peanut allergy, I've DEFINITELY noticed peanuts in egg rolls in other places such as L.A. and San Diego as well! That's why I no longer have them :(