Phyllo Egg Rolls
I had some wonderful phyllo egg rolls (regular cabbage etc. filling) at a benefit. They were light, crisp, not at all greasy. I will tackle making them but thought if anyone knew of a place to purchase them or had a fail-proof recipe on hand, I would like to know. Having folks over on Christmas Eve and they would be fantastic.
Ahh, funny you should ask...my daughter and I whipped up a batch last night (using regular egg roll wrappers) and ate six each!
For the filling I use an amalgamation of the three or four egg roll recipes in Wonona and Irving Chang's Encyclopedia of Chinese Cooking. We really like to up the amount of shrimp. Last night's combo was:
1 quarter inch slice of deli ham, finely diced
3/4 lb shrimp cut into half inch pieces
2 tsp minced ginger root
1/2 bunch scallions sliced (using the lower half so there is some green)
Into a large bowl put:
1 can bamboo shoots, shredded
2 stalks celery, shredded
1 carrot shredded
1/3 to 1/2 cabbage, shredded
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp soy sauce (Kikkoman)
2 tbsp peanut oil along with a few dashes of sesame oil
Heat oil in a large saute pan. Add ginger and scallions. If using raw shrimp, add and stir fry for about 30 seconds only. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside.
Add the shredded vegetables to the pan and stir fry until the cabbage has wilted. Add the ham, salt and soy sauce. Remove from the heat and add back the shrimp. Let the mixture cool before filling the eggrolls. The recipes say to let the mixture drain, but I don't find this necessary. We use 1/4 to 1/3 cup of filling per eggroll. This recipe will make approximately 20.
Note that none of the Chang recipes call for the ginger or toasted sesame oil but we like the added flavor. Also, we omit the water chestnuts called for in most recipes.
Using Phyllo dough is an interesting idea. Were they baked or fried?
BTW, you can make these in advance and freeze them, uncooked. No need to thaw before dropping them in the hot oil.
I bake with phyllo a lot, and despite what you may see or read from "authorities," if you want light, flaky phyllo crust, you MUST paint the phyllo with butter, and then you must "flick" it with milk to hold the layers together.
For egg rolls, and I'll let you supply your own filling recipe, I would spread a whole phyllo sheet out on a work surface, paint it completely with drawn butter, then dip my fingers into a half teacup of milk and "flick" the milk in little droplets all across the buttered phyllo sheet. Repeat with at least one more layer. I adore phyllo, so I'd probably use more. Across a narrow end, pack in your egg roll filling leaving an inch clearancd at each end for tucking in the filling when you roll it up. It would probably be most useful to work on a sheet of plastic wrap, because at this point it would be useful in rolling up the "egg roll" much the way you would roll up sushi. Roll until you think you have enough layers around the egg roll to satisfy you. Depends on how fat you make the filling, but If there is any excess left when you have as many layers as you think you should, cut it off and rumple it up at the bottom of the cookie sheet for a munchy later.
Place the egg roll, seam side down, on a cookie sheet or a jelly roll pan, bake at 325 until golden. If you want the filling to stay really crunchy, then increase the heat and watch closely that the phyllo doesn't burn. You *can* deep fry this, but in my expertience I get a much better (and crispier) result from baking.
Conventional wisdom is that you "must" keep your phyllo under a slightly damp kitchen towel while you're working with the single sheets to keep it from drying out. I just use the wax paper the phyllo comes rolled in to cover it loosely. It will eventually dry out, but if you're fairly fast, you won't see it happen.
Some general information about phyllo: You can't use it straight from the package, unbuttered, and expect anything good to come of it. Unbuttered phyllo will turn gummy if you use it for anything that is moist, just like nori on stale sushi. Yuck! And it's the little flicks of milk that hold the layers together so they don't slide off each other like playing 52 Card Pick-Up!
When I make baklava, I do use two leaves of phyllo at a time, butter well (I use a clean 3 inch paint brush), do the milk thing, then another two sheets of phyllo. It is the butter that makes the phyllo "water proof" so you can drown the baklava in either honey or rose/orange blossom syrup and have it stay crispy until it's all gone. Commercial baklava bakeries NEVER use enough butter, consequently I've never had a piece of baklava I didn't make myself that wasn't soggy.
Layers of well buttered, milk-flecked phyllo also make a great crust for vegetable terrines, pates, pies, even quiche.
Thank you both for the advice. I have worked with phyllo before successfully, but the "milk flick" is something unique which I will definitely try. I took a class once with a Boston area chef. He was working with phyllo for one appetizer, and I realized he was much more casual about picking up two sheets occasionally, while I would have been struggling to make sure it was "just right" and tearing it in the process. Since then, either the phyllo isn't as fragile or I have lost my inhibitions.
My favorite filling is ground lamb and white raisins seasoned with cinnamon.
May have to make some of those too.
re: random amblings
Phyllo's reputation for difficulty is not deserved! If you tear a sheet, just patch it, butter it, flick it, and keep on stacking! Try a handful of pine nuts in with your lamb. Currants are the more traditional middle eastern fruit, but I imagine white raisins are interesting too. I also use a bit of finely chopped parsley in my fillings. Enjoy!