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What makes a good or bad egg roll?

fldhkybnva Dec 8, 2012 10:17 PM

With all of the chatter about Chinese food and my weekly Chinese food night on the horizon, SO and I were thinking - what makes a good egg roll?

  1. n
    nikkib99 Dec 8, 2012 10:31 PM

    * Too oily
    * If it's an egg roll, it should have some assortment of meat AND veggies, not just veggies that they're trying to get rid off. Save the extra veggies for soup of the day.
    * Skin that cracks to 100 pieces. I want it crispy, but it can't be the flake to dust egg roll.
    * Too much filler veggies like carrots and some translucent mess that looks like ONIONS
    * crappy egg roll sauce. I want fire in my belly chili oil
    * 2-bites-and-it's-gone egg roll. Must be big enough where it can be a meal for an extreme dieter, but I make myself have a couple and then maybe a meal. :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: nikkib99
      s
      Sal Vanilla Dec 11, 2012 11:18 AM

      EXACTLY!

    2. suzigirl Dec 8, 2012 10:38 PM

      I get an outstanding eggroll where I live. Good veggie cabbage/meat mix and good seasoning. And they do a cornstarch water mix to dip the eggroll skins in to get an uber crispy textured exterior. And fresh duck sauce. And it is in a 'to go' restaurant

      1. Perilagu Khan Dec 9, 2012 06:37 AM

        Truly great egg rolls are rare. The best I ever had were large--say five inches long and two inches in diameter. They tended to be a bit on the greasy side. And the cabbage was obviously very, very fresh.

        1. luckyfatima Dec 9, 2012 06:50 AM

          I am recalling some of my favorite eggrolls and remembering what sets them apart.

          I happen to like the thick skinned eggrolls, though most of my favorites from various memorable spots are actually thin skinned.

          There was a place in a mall by my home when I was a child and they had thin skinned eggrolls that were stuffed with ground beef. So delicious. I haven't seen other eggrolls like that.

          I also love Vietnamese style eggrolls even when the resto has used a thin wheat flour skin and not a rice paper, which a lot of places seem to do. These eggrolls are well seasoned and have lots of black pepper in them, plus mushrooms or if I get lucky, wood ear fungus which gives this great flavor. I also love the glass noodles in them.

          I noticed a lot of Thai places have eggrolls with cabbage-carrot combo but also glass noodles inside. That just adds something to the texture which is so good.

          I once had an eggroll at a Thai place that I simply adored: there was some veg in it, but also a whole peeled shrimp with it's tail sticking out of one end of the eggroll. The crispy eggroll skin paired with the soft shrimp flesh was really delicious.

          Thinking about generic eggrolls: I guess crispness and freshness are important. And the veg inside should still have crunch and not be overcooked mush. The filling should also be well seasoned, meaning salty enough to not taste bland with the skin wrapper, and with a bit of white or black pepper. Lastly, if the place does have the thick wrappers, the wrapper should be cooked all the way through. I have come across a fair amount of wrappers which are raw on the inside, and that won't do.

          7 Replies
          1. re: luckyfatima
            f
            foodieX2 Dec 9, 2012 07:04 AM

            I honestly have not seen a "good" egg roll in years, even in the great little hole in the wall authentic places in chinatown. I feel like they are a second thought that only anglos want or order.

            Growing up my dad would take us into chinatown and I loved the egg rolls. Crispy outside with a slight chew inside, stuffed with fresh, crunchy cabbage, a sprinkling of carrots and maybe some kind of sprout (?) with well seasoned meat. They were amazing, and big! I could make a meal out them.

            Theses days they are all greasy, soggy and usually filled with sub par veggies and grizzly meat (if there is any). yuck

            1. re: foodieX2
              luckyfatima Dec 9, 2012 07:44 AM

              I think that may be true about generic American-Chinese resto eggrolls (I do order them for my kids), but there are a lot of varieties of eggrolls beyond that particular style that are quite delicious, and even those generic ones can be made well.

              1. re: luckyfatima
                f
                foodieX2 Dec 9, 2012 07:51 AM

                Then why am I finding them in even in authentic places in chinatown? We don't eat at generic American/Chinese places.

                I never see anyone order them, which should be my first clue. I ordered them once, to share with my son, and ugh, they could have come from La Choy. Interestingly they are only listed on the english menu, again that should have been a clue.

                I have yet to see a good egg roll since circa 1976 in Boston's Chinatown.

                1. re: foodieX2
                  Bacardi1 Dec 9, 2012 01:12 PM

                  So do tell us how the "circa 1975" eggrolls differ from the ones of today.

                  1. re: Bacardi1
                    f
                    foodieX2 Dec 9, 2012 01:27 PM

                    <Crispy outside with a slight chew inside, stuffed with fresh, crunchy cabbage, a sprinkling of carrots and maybe some kind of sprout (?) with well seasoned meat. They were amazing, and big! I could make a meal out them>>

                    Thats how I remember them. I think they may have also had more than one kind of cabbage instead of what my memory recalls as sprouts, possibly scallions too. The carrots were finely julienned and were still slightly crunchy, adding nice spot of color. The pork had lots of flavor, was plentiful and were in thin slices. Oh and they came with two dipping sauces- one soy sauce based with ginger and scallions and the other a hot/spicy mustard that would clear your sinuses!

                    While clearly fried they were not greasy/oily at all. They were always piping hot, to the point you had to cut them half and let them cool for a bit before eating. In my mind that comes from being fried to order, not pre fried and the flash fried before serving. Like the difference between freshly cooked fast food fries and those kept warm under the heat lamp, IYKWIM.

              2. re: foodieX2
                Perilagu Khan Dec 9, 2012 01:04 PM

                Only "Anglos" want to order? What makes you say that? If your synopsis of the plight of egg rolls is correct, the quality of the egg rolls has declined as the proportion of whites in the populace has diminished.

                1. re: Perilagu Khan
                  f
                  foodieX2 Dec 9, 2012 01:11 PM

                  Bacardi verbalized it much better than I did.

                  <<And today this seems to happen even with eggrolls at Chinese restaurants where the rest of the menu items are decent. Frying up a proper eggroll shouldn't be all that difficult. One can only assume that it's just so commonplace an item that the majority of places really don't care about them.>>

                  I find that even in truly authentic places with really good food the egg roll appears to be an after thought, poorly executed at best, horrible/greasy/substandard at worst. Its as if the american version has become so commonplace it has replaced what used to be a really good item.

            2. b
              Bryan Pepperseed Dec 9, 2012 07:23 AM

              Good - with hot mustard
              Bad - without

              1. TonyO Dec 9, 2012 07:31 AM

                Egg Roll 101: cabbage must be pressed (squeeze all excess water out so cabbage is not soggy when fried), has bbq ground pork, shrimp, sesame oil, MSG (old school) salt /pepper (modern). The fry method is like making good french fries, blanch once and hold until ready to serve at which pint it is fried to crispy and served with good duck sauce and that sinus clearing mustard....

                8 Replies
                1. re: TonyO
                  f
                  fourunder Dec 9, 2012 08:40 PM

                  I would agree with this.....except to say it should also have celery in it as well. The wrappers, or skins, should be made with eggs too....not just flour and water. The egg wrapper is key for proper blistering of the skin. This is how it was done in the Greater New York and New Jersey area Cantonese and Polynesian type restaurants dating back to the 1950s through 80s.

                  1. re: fourunder
                    TonyO Dec 10, 2012 05:32 AM

                    I believe you are correct fourunder ! It has been 32 years since I worked as a dishwasher in an upstate NY Chinese restaurant but I do remember finely sliced celery as part of the filling (all cut by hand). I can still picture that cabbage press in the middle of the kitchen an an elderly Chinese woman motioning to me to crank it a few times to squeeze out more water....I obliged as she almost always had a cleaver in her hand and her smile was only somewhat reassuring.......she did laugh every now and then, but never as hard as the time when she told me to make the mustard....I opened a small metal cabinet and inside was a 5 gallon plastic pail...I added a few ice scoops of powdered mustard on her instruction and then some liquid (I believe it was vinegar)...she motioned to me to lean inside as I poured the liquid in (which I did) just in time for the mustard to "blosssom" and fill my lungs, eyes, and sinuses with a burning sensation I have never since encountered (kind of like the wasabi "rush" you get magnified about 10,000 times).....the entire kitchen staff (all Chinese except me) was laughing wildly....it was kind of my initiation and after that we were all the best of friends....

                    1. re: TonyO
                      shaogo Jan 26, 2013 06:03 PM

                      Yeah. Vinegar, water and a bit of salt to re-constitute the horrible mustard powder. Why do you think the anti-personnel bombs in WWI contained "mustard gas?" I, for one, think they're related!

                    2. re: fourunder
                      shaogo Jan 26, 2013 06:01 PM

                      fourunder has it right!

                      The "secret" to the egg rolls we remember from the old days is the celery.

                      I'll go a little further: yes, the wrapper's important. But these days, there's a shredded veggie (pre-prepared) product that the restaurants are using and it just comes out like mush.

                      We shred our own veggies, marinate in seasoning, then squeeze the water out and proceed. Veggies include napa, regular cabbage, celery and bean sprouts. No onions.

                      And TonyO is right, the MSG must be in the amalgam of vinegar, wine and soy that the cabbage is marinated in.

                      We don't use minced roast pork; forever the meat is just sauteed minced pork with the ubiquitous red coloring added.

                      The par-cooking is really not necessary. The best egg rolls are never frozen after par-cooking, however. Frying (only one time) should occur when the egg roll is fresh, that way the places the wrapper overlaps itself many times gets delightfully chewy while the outside gets blistered and crispy.

                      The best one I've ever had was at Nom Wah in New York City; where they do the thing with the flour/cornstarch dip -- it's Cantonese style and the thing is crispiness upon crispiness, with a delicious, moist interior.

                      However, Nom Wah's uses precious little cabbage, and fills their egg rolls with shredded fragrant mushrooms, shredded bamboo shoots and I'd hazard a guess they add a little pork fat inside -- they are so delectable!

                      We had Chinese restaurants (some Chowhounds know) and have gone on to a smaller venue (bar with pub food and Italian) that's not Chinese (in semi-retirement) but we still make the egg rolls -- 'cause our customers told us not to *dare* omit them from our menu.

                      So the egg rolls co-exist with roast beef sandwiches, Reubens, Ravioli and Spaghetti and meatballs. Go figure...

                      Here's a little story about my formative years in the Chinese restaurant biz:

                      My buddy was encouraging me to make my first restaurant venture Chinese. So I asked if I could just hang out in the restaurant and in the kitchen to get a feel for how it's done.

                      I'm in this tiny Chinese restaurant on Long Island and it's the day of the week they make all the egg rolls. I walk into the kitchen and see them shredding veggies and putting them, with dry seasoning, into a humongous bowl/wok thing (not heated) to marinate. I think nothing of it but ask, a bit later on, if I could watch the whole process. My buddy says "ok, go back in the kitchen they're coming along with it."

                      The now-marinated and wet cabbage/carrot/celery/bean sprout mix is being placed into a cloth and squeezed of its juice -- using the same mop wringer and pail they use to clean the floor! Suffice it to say I was flabbergasted.

                      They felt that the old table cloth that contained the veggies was enough protection against any bacteria which had accumulated on the mop wringer.

                      Needless to say, although we still use a cloth, we use muscle-power over a sink (twist and squeeze) rather than a mop wringer, to wring the water out of *our* egg-roll veggies...

                      1. re: shaogo
                        f
                        fourunder Jan 26, 2013 06:09 PM

                        However, Nom Wah's uses precious little cabbage, and fills their egg rolls with shredded fragrant mushrooms, shredded bamboo shoots and I'd hazard a guess they add a little pork fat inside -- they are so delectable!
                        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                        What you describe is what I have generally known as....

                        Spring or Shanghai Egg Rolls if made with a rice wrapper....or what is commonly used for Moo Shu dishes.

                        1. re: fourunder
                          shaogo Jan 30, 2013 09:00 AM

                          Yeah but the "wrapper" was a conventional egg noodle wrapper. But how they get all that deep-fried starchy goodness around it; lots of surface area from the way the batter it's dipped in puffs and forms peaks and valleys in the oil. It's unique.

                          1. re: shaogo
                            f
                            fourunder Jan 30, 2013 09:22 AM

                            When it comes to unique.....the Fried Taro Dumpling is KING! ! !

                    3. re: TonyO
                      raytamsgv Dec 11, 2012 11:49 AM

                      When we made egg rolls at our family restaurant, we always let the filling mixture drain overnight before we wrapped them up.

                    4. mamachef Dec 9, 2012 07:40 AM

                      Distinct ingredients; not a messy, uggha "farcemeat" of pasty ground veg. Of course, best-quality products, well-hit w/ sesame oil, correctly deep-fried. And a dipping sauce that's not cloyingly sweet or neon orange.

                      1. John E. Dec 9, 2012 10:53 AM

                        The biggest errors I see with eggrolls are when they are too greasy and have too much cabbage.

                        1. Bacardi1 Dec 9, 2012 11:19 AM

                          For me it's simple - a variety of ingredients, with the main clearly visible; as in a pork eggroll - I should be able to see the pork; chicken, shrimp, vegetable - the same. The filler vegetables should be more than just Napa/Chinese cabbage. Years ago eggrolls always had a good mix of Chinese cabbage, carrots, onions &/or scallions, etc., etc. These days, Napa/Chinese cabbage seems to be the only ingredient fulfilling the vegetable part of the equation.

                          Secondly - the GREASE factor. Eggrolls of years past were NEVER dripping in so much grease that it was practically dripping down your arm as you ate one. And today this seems to happen even with eggrolls at Chinese restaurants where the rest of the menu items are decent. Frying up a proper eggroll shouldn't be all that difficult. One can only assume that it's just so commonplace an item that the majority of places really don't care about it.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Bacardi1
                            f
                            foodieX2 Dec 9, 2012 11:23 AM

                            <<And today this seems to happen even with eggrolls at Chinese restaurants where the rest of the menu items are decent. Frying up a proper eggroll shouldn't be all that difficult. One can only assume that it's just so commonplace an item that the majority of places really don't care about them.>>

                            Exactly! You articulated what I was trying to say so much better than my attempt!

                            1. re: foodieX2
                              Bacardi1 Dec 9, 2012 01:02 PM

                              Ahh - a kindred spirit. Thank you. You obviously remember eggrolls the way they used to be served way back when.

                              I can remember biting into one & seeing the chopped slices of roast pork - & this was even from little takeout places. And no GREASE. Geez. One would think that eggrolls would be a really cheap way to up the ante at restaurants. Apparently not.

                          2. Chemicalkinetics Dec 9, 2012 11:28 AM

                            Everything really. In truth this is probably true for any good anyway. All the components are important, and how they put together is also important. That being said, some components are easier to execute than others. Generally speaking, the filling is important, you don't want crappy and cheap spring roll fillings. However, the fillings take less skill, and more about the willingness to put in good and more expensive ingredients. The skin or the wrap is the tougher part, and often is the deciding factor between a good spring roll and a great one. How you fried it, how long to fry it, how the warp was made...etc.

                            1. ipsedixit Dec 9, 2012 11:36 AM

                              The skin.

                              You give me an eggroll with subpar skin and no matter how good your filling is, it's going to suck.

                              But well-made skin can cover up for alot of deficiencies in an eggroll, esp. when it comes to the filling. After all, people tend to slather on so much sauces and other condiments when eating an eggroll, most of the time one can't even really taste the filling.

                              But the skin? That's the first thing that your mouth comes in contact with, and the skin is less about taste than it is about mouthfeel, which is why the sauces and condiments cannot makeup for bad skin like they can for bad filling.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                Perilagu Khan Dec 9, 2012 01:00 PM

                                I put hardly any condo on my egg rolls. A tiny touch of hot mustard, and that's it.

                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  JungMann Dec 10, 2012 07:52 AM

                                  You're right. The skin really is the most important part. That first bite needs to start with an extra crispy shell that leads to a slightly interior before you hit the filling. It shouldn't be greasy; it shouldn't too chewy either. It needs to be just right.

                                  The filling, I can be a little more flexible on. I like a base of cabbage and onions that still has a little crunch left. Round it out with char siu, flecks of shrimp, maybe a few bean sprouts, and you're set.

                                2. l
                                  LikestoEatout Dec 9, 2012 12:20 PM

                                  I prefer Thai to Chinese, crisper without the grease at the place I go to plus fresh veggies!

                                  1. fldhkybnva Dec 9, 2012 01:07 PM

                                    My SO is a big fan of the egg rolls (usually pork, but also shrimp) from the standard Chinese takeout restaurant (read: red awning, no tables or chairs, 5 minute delivery piping hot greasy and delicious). Any other fans in the crowd? This is actually what prompted my post.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: fldhkybnva
                                      Bacardi1 Dec 9, 2012 01:15 PM

                                      Actually - I AM a fan of the standard Chinese takeout restaurant eggroll. And enjoy them frequently. But I still take exception to the poor variety of ingredients these days, along with the more-than-ample oil running down my arm while I eat them.

                                      1. re: Bacardi1
                                        fldhkybnva Dec 9, 2012 01:40 PM

                                        We actually found a new favorite place recently which has managed to balance the fat-laden/sugar deliciousness of American-style Chinese takeout without loading up it up with crazy amounts of soy sauce and oil and a few times he has encountered an egg roll that was "not greasy enough." And, this is why I love Sunday Chinese food night.

                                    2. r
                                      ragtime_6 Dec 9, 2012 01:29 PM

                                      The skin-to-filling ratio makes a big difference. In my experience, if the egg roll is too big or if the roll is packed improperly, then eating it becomes quite messy. Not necessarily a bad thing, but chasing after all the stray bits can feel like an exercise in futility. If the egg roll is too small, then it can often wind up being hard/greasy/overcooked, and I can hardly taste the filling because each bite is 80% fried skin.

                                      More support for the dipping sauce too; in Toronto I am always presented with overly sweet sauce which is either thin and watery or syrupy and thick. Sometimes I will get a savory, dark brown sauce, somewhat like a teriyaki-oyster sauce combo, which is very nice indeed and a great compliment to the pork and cabbage. What is this hot mustard that everyone speaks of? Is it the usual hot yellow mustard (like Keens or some such thing) for when folks make egg rolls at home, or is this a different form of mustard altogether?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: ragtime_6
                                        fldhkybnva Dec 9, 2012 02:27 PM

                                        I actually must admit I am a big fan of that "duck" sauce in the packets.

                                      2. RetiredChef Dec 10, 2012 08:10 AM

                                        #1 - The filling, most are bland and unseasoned, you need to have ginger, garlic, scallion, soy and oyster sauce in the filling. You must also drain and cool the filing before you make the egg roll.

                                        #2 - The oil, must be fresh and hot 375 and be able to stay hot after you put the egg rolls in to create a nice crust and not absorb a ton of grease.

                                        #3 The skin - Use the paper thin variety (found at Asian markets), not the thicker ones you find in the refrigerated section of your local market. Do not let the wrapper dry out, keep it covered with a damp cloth.

                                        #4 The Roll - Search the web to see tutorials on how to properly roll an egg roll. Too many of them are loose and sloppily rolled.

                                        #5 The sauce - if you have made your egg roll right it is bursting with flavor and a sauce is not needed, but this all boils down to personal preference. Americans especially seem obsessed with dipping everything in a sauce - Would you please pass the Wasabi Ranch ;)

                                        24 Replies
                                        1. re: RetiredChef
                                          Bacardi1 Dec 10, 2012 09:02 AM

                                          Uh - actually I take a bit of offense that "Americans especially seem obsessed with dipping everything in a sauce".

                                          There's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting some sort of condiment to accompany a fried item like an eggroll. Nothing at all. In fact, personally I find it odder that someone would want to eat something fried without some type of condiment on the side. But to each his own.

                                          For eggrolls, I fully admit to loving good old "Chinese Hot Mustard" &/or "Duck Sauce" (whether homemade or from a little plastic packet. Eggrolls are sort of like comfort food to me, so I really don't care if anyone finds this beneath them - lol!

                                          1. re: Bacardi1
                                            RetiredChef Dec 11, 2012 11:10 AM

                                            I apologize and can tell you I didn't mean to offend anyone; I actually thought the "pass the Wasabi Ranch ;)" was quite comical as did another CHer that emailed me. Anyhow it's a pretty straight forward observation, kind of like saying that Vietnamese eat a lot of rice, or Japanese consume a lot of sushi I really don't see how any of these can be offensive but I apologize.

                                            Cheers

                                            1. re: RetiredChef
                                              Perilagu Khan Dec 11, 2012 11:41 AM

                                              Steady on there, mate. Won't be long before you have the partisans of Vietnam and Japan around your ears. ;)

                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan
                                                monkeyrotica Dec 11, 2012 02:51 PM

                                                I vaguely recall seeing wasabi ranch dressing at TGI Fridays. Or maybe that's just the intestinal distress talking.

                                                1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                  Bacardi1 Dec 12, 2012 08:03 AM

                                                  Hey - it may very well exist & could very well be quite good.

                                                  I just don't like the comment that "Americans especially seem obsessed with dipping everything in a sauce". It's not only untrue, but sounds offensive towards American dining habits. I think that if one were to look into "dipping" habits around the world, one would find that Americans don't "dip" any more or less than any other culture when it comes to food - especially fried items.

                                                  1. re: Bacardi1
                                                    ipsedixit Dec 12, 2012 08:10 AM

                                                    No, but I definitely think there's more than a kernel of stereotypical truth when it comes to Americans and sauces vis-a-vis American Chinese food.

                                                    1. re: Bacardi1
                                                      RetiredChef Dec 12, 2012 08:32 AM

                                                      Bacardi,

                                                      Don’t want to offend you but I have cooked on 4 different continents and I know chefs that have cooked on every continent except for Antarctica. One thing we would all agree on is that Americans in particular use much more dipping sauces than other cultures. It’s not derogatory just a simple truism that is out there. And as far as fried food goes, I think , along with my other chef friends, would say that Americans win that category too. Again it’s not derogatory no am I picking on Americans anymore than I am picking on French for eating a lot of cheese, it’s just part of their food culture.

                                                      Cheers

                                                      1. re: RetiredChef
                                                        JungMann Dec 12, 2012 09:33 AM

                                                        Not to belabor the point, but many Asian cuisines emphasize the importance of condiments/dipping sauce in enhancing a meal. The variety of Indian chutneys, Vietnamese nuoc mam, Filipino sawsawan, Thai nam phrik that pair with fried foods make the American affection for duck sauce or hot mustard look pretty plain by comparison.

                                                        1. re: JungMann
                                                          ipsedixit Dec 12, 2012 09:39 AM

                                                          JungMann,

                                                          I don't disagree with you. And it's not just Asian cuisines that will often emphasize sauces or condiments, but European ones as well (e.g. Italian, French, etc.).

                                                          But when it comes to Americans and Chinese-American food, the sauces (or condiments) become less of something that complements and enhances a dish, and more of something that either masks the flavors of the dish, or transforms it entirely. In other words, it is often redundant or unnecessary.

                                                          For example, soy sauce with dumplings enhances and complements a dish. Soy sauce on fried rice or chicken chow mein? Or white rice? Not so much.

                                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                                            JungMann Dec 12, 2012 11:42 AM

                                                            Ipsedixit: I know exactly what you mean about the redundant use of soy sauce, but I don't think of soy as a "sauce" the way the word is being used here. On its own, it's a seasoning, like salt, that you can mix with other ingredients to create a dipping sauce or what have you. The idea of using packets of soy sauce like one uses packets of ketchup bewilders me.

                                                          2. re: JungMann
                                                            RetiredChef Dec 12, 2012 10:01 AM

                                                            JungMann,

                                                            Ipsedixit made an eloquent point, something that I said initially not so eloquently. Americans tend to overuse sauces, many times to cover up poorly made food or to mask the actual taste of the food.

                                                            Also I never denied that other cultures use dipping sauces, almost all do but they tend to use much less and they only use it on certain items. Americans are sauce obsessed and that’s one thing that foreign chefs have to learn when they come here (as I did many years ago). A funny story was an Italian chef I worked for in NYC would always say “Why do american want to eat sauce instead of pasta?”, meaning he had to drench the pasta in sauce for the American palates and this was at a very high end place.

                                                            Several years ago someone posted a question about what sauce to serve with sweet potato fries, I said why not just serve them plain with S&P. Three people agreed with me, two other foreign born, the vast majority of posters from America were suggesting all sorts of dipping sauces and to them eating a sweet potato fry without dipping it was unheard of.

                                                            Ipsedixit made a good point with soy sauce, in all of my tours of China it’s rare to find soy sauce on the table in restaurants (unless you are at a tourist one), if you ask for it you will be brought a very small bowl and usually with questionable looks. Watch japanese people eat rice, do they douse it with soy sauce, again the answer is no but Americans tend to douse everything with some sort of sauce or condiment. Again this is not a derogatory comment by me, instead it’s just a fact of the culinary world.

                                                            1. re: RetiredChef
                                                              f
                                                              fourunder Dec 12, 2012 10:20 AM

                                                              The Japanese may not douse their rice....but they sure do so with their noodles and your assumptions and analogies would be incorrect.

                                                              1. re: fourunder
                                                                The Chowhound Team Dec 12, 2012 02:49 PM

                                                                Folks, we removed a bunch of increasingly testy replies from this part of the discussion. Please keep things focused on the topic at hand -- if you're analyzing your fellow hounds and their motivations and word choices, it's getting too far from friendly sharing of information.

                                                              2. re: RetiredChef
                                                                JungMann Dec 12, 2012 11:29 AM

                                                                "I never denied that other cultures use dipping sauces, almost all do but they tend to use much less and they only use it on certain items."

                                                                That's the exact "fact" I'm rebutting. Go to a Filipino dinner and your meal is not complete without a wide array of dipping sauces. I can think of several meant for eggrolls alone. You're ignoring the reality that the Vietnamese do in fact make liberal use of nuoc mam gung and nuoc mam chanh and while the Japanese certainly aren't dousing their rice in soy sauce, they still shower okonomiyaki in sauces and toppings. Fourunder speaks the truth with respect to noodles. I understand the point you are trying to make, but as an Asian-American, it seems like you're exoticizing how non-Americans actually eat to make that point.

                                                                For the record I grew up in a household that makes great eggrolls and we always serve them with a selection of dipping sauces. It's not to mask the flavor or because we live in a land of plenty. It's because it's delicious.

                                                            2. re: RetiredChef
                                                              f
                                                              FrankJBN Dec 12, 2012 10:12 AM

                                                              "dipping sauces"

                                                              This is why I wonder at the truth of your anecdotal observations.

                                                              to me, the term "dipping sasuces" indicates a foreign and or children's cuisine. Children may dip foods into sauce. Adults don't.

                                                              Think of most of the meals you prepare - do you set a dipping sauce on the table? Never happens at my table, never happened when growing up.

                                                              Look at older American cookbooks - any recipes for "dipping sauces"?

                                                              1. re: FrankJBN
                                                                ipsedixit Dec 12, 2012 11:04 AM

                                                                Surely you jest, Frank.

                                                                I have no horse in this race, but there's lots of "dipping sauces" for adult foods.

                                                                Shrimp cocktail sauce comes to mind. Tartar sauce for fish sticks, or vinegar for fish n chips (if you want to be "adult" about it). Ketchup for fries. I would consider salsa or guacamole for chips "dipping sauces".

                                                                What about fondue? The ultimate in "dipping" and "sauce" wouldn't you say? And, my friend, if you do fondue right, it is most definitely "adult" ...

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                  mamachef Dec 12, 2012 10:39 PM

                                                                  <And, my friend, if you do fondue right, it is most definitely "adult.">

                                                                  Isn't that the truth? What kind of wine do you use? Do you finish w/ kirsch?

                                                                  1. re: mamachef
                                                                    Perilagu Khan Dec 13, 2012 08:12 AM

                                                                    Rarely do I attend services after eating fondue.

                                                                    1. re: mamachef
                                                                      ipsedixit Dec 13, 2012 08:18 AM

                                                                      I prefer finishing with a roll in the sack ...

                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                        Perilagu Khan Dec 13, 2012 01:08 PM

                                                                        An egg roll?

                                                                  2. re: FrankJBN
                                                                    RetiredChef Dec 12, 2012 11:26 AM

                                                                    Frank,

                                                                    “Children may dip foods into sauce. Adults don't.”

                                                                    Really????? I suggest a quick trip to a local fast food eatery and watch the adults eat their french fries, you will see many of them dipping their lovely fried potatoes into a red dipping sauce (Ketchup or BBQ) some will be dipping it into a yellow sauce (mustard), some into a white sauce (ranch), some into a combination of these sauces. Then to really blow your mind go order some fried chicken tenders/McNugget thing's, that crazy counter worker will ask you what sauce you would like to dip your fried delicacy in.

                                                                    >>>Think of most of the meals you prepare - do you set a dipping sauce on the table?

                                                                    I just ate at a typical American families house the other night, the meal was roast beef, mashed potatoes and green beans.

                                                                    One simple meal 7 dipping/condiment/accompaniment sauces on the table

                                                                    1 Ketchup - 1 person put on meat
                                                                    2 Mustard - 1 person put on meat
                                                                    3 Ranch - 2 people put on potatoes
                                                                    4 Soy Sauce - 2 people put on green beans
                                                                    5 Horse-radish sauce - put on meat
                                                                    6 Au Jus - put on meat
                                                                    7 Tabasco - 1 person put on everything

                                                                    >>>Look at older American cookbooks - any recipes for "dipping sauces"?

                                                                    The Joy of Cooking, the only older American cookbook I own has over 50 listed.

                                                                  3. re: RetiredChef
                                                                    Chemicalkinetics Dec 12, 2012 12:24 PM

                                                                    I have to agree with you. I think there is a sense that some people use dipping sauce because they don't know anything about good foods. On the other hand, it really does not have to be like this. There is nothing offensive about using dipping sauce for any culture. We, Americans, probably do a bit more, but it itself is not a bad thing. Dipping foods in crappy sauce is another thing. I don't think I will like wasabi ranch.

                                                                    I do really enjoy southern barbecue when I get to choose what sauce to use with my Q. :)

                                                            3. re: RetiredChef
                                                              shaogo Jan 26, 2013 06:09 PM

                                                              "Dipping Sauces" are all the rage in the restaurant magazines and websites.

                                                              Tableware companies are creating all sorts of dishes to convey these condiments along with the apps that get dipped in 'em; anything from egg rolls to jalapeno poppers stuffed with cheddar or cream cheese, to fried dumplings/wontons.

                                                          3. re: RetiredChef
                                                            mamachef Dec 12, 2012 09:40 AM

                                                            Love the tutorial, RC. I wish you'd do it on a video.
                                                            Re: dipping/sauce...I had a boyfriend once who called me "Condiment Queen."

                                                          4. fldhkybnva Dec 10, 2012 08:36 AM

                                                            I had a bite of a pork egg roll last night which left a lovely grease ring around my mouth. I think that would be included in at least part of my definition of bad.

                                                            1. a
                                                              AngelaID Dec 11, 2012 01:11 PM

                                                              We love these. Now I've got to make them again. LOL

                                                              Shrimp & Vegetable Egg Rolls

                                                              2 Tbls vegetable oil
                                                              8 cups finely shredded green cabbage
                                                              2 cups coarsely grated carrots
                                                              2 & 1/2 Tbls soy sauce
                                                              3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
                                                              1 Tbls ginger, finely minced
                                                              6 green onions (or scallions), cut into very thin slices
                                                              3/4 lb salad shrimp (can substitute chopped, cooked, chicken)
                                                              1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
                                                              1/4 cup finely slivered fresh basil
                                                              Salt - to taste, if needed
                                                              12 egg roll wrappers (10 oz)
                                                              1 egg, lightly beaten
                                                              1 & 1/2 cups vegetable oil

                                                              1. In a large, heavy pot, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the cabbage and carrots; cook over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until cabbage is wilted and bright green. Stir in soy sauce.
                                                              2. Add the garlic and ginger; cook for 1 minute, stirring. Remove from heat and stir in green onions, shrimp, cilantro, basil and (if desired) salt.
                                                              3. When working with egg roll wrappers, cover them with a damp kitchen towel so they don’t dry out. Stuff wrappers one at a time: Place one tip facing you like a diamond shape on a flat work surface. Place 1/3 a cup of filling 1 inch from the bottom point and across the wrapper to within 1 inch of each side. Fold bottom tip up over filling and roll away from you halfway up. Brush egg over exposed edges with a pastry brush. Fold in 1 inch side tips and finish rolling TIGHTLY (very important - or egg rolls will absorb more oil and taste ‘greasy’). Place on a plate seam-side down. Repeat procedure with the rest of the wrappers. Keep finished egg rolls covered with a damp towel.
                                                              4. Heat 1 & 1/2 cups of oil in a 10 inch skillet until it begins to bubble a bit on top. (To test for temperature, drop a cube of bread into oil; it should brown within one minute). [I use my deep fryer - @ 370 degrees - drop in 3 or 4 egg rolls - cook 1 minute and turn and cook for another minute, or until golden brown.]
                                                              5. Add 3 or 4 egg rolls at a time to the oil and fry for 2 to 21/2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towel. Serve immediately.
                                                              I like mine with ketchup and hot Chinese mustard. Hubby likes his with sweet & sour sauce.
                                                              Makes 12 egg rolls

                                                              1. John E. Dec 11, 2012 04:24 PM

                                                                I have difficulty in getting any egg to roll, even the hard cooked eggs mostly just wobble around.

                                                                1. THoey1963 Dec 11, 2012 04:27 PM

                                                                  My wife makes great egg rolls. She makes the "stuffing" a day ahead of time so it can marinate.

                                                                  Raw ground turkey and pork meat.
                                                                  Some raw pureed shrimp.
                                                                  Some cooked glass noodles that have been almost puree'd in a food processor.
                                                                  Veggies to include carrots, garlic, onion, ginger, but I am sure there is something else.
                                                                  All that is mixed together and seasoned. Not sure what she uses, but I am sure there is some soy and fish sauce, among other things.

                                                                  For wrappers, we have decided we prefer the Lumpia type wrappers the best as they are thin and crispy, not thick and chewy.

                                                                  She makes them about four or so times a year, but when she does, she is usually making close to 200 of them. She gives some away to friends and we freeze the rest so we can have some any time we feel the urge.

                                                                  As for dipping sauces, I used to make a mix of sauces up, but that got old as it over powered the egg roll. Lately I have just been using Sriracha or Sriracha mayo. She'll make some soy / pepper type sauce for hers.

                                                                  1. s
                                                                    StrandedYankee Dec 12, 2012 11:31 AM

                                                                    A good old-school egg roll;
                                                                    1) is not a spring roll. The skin is the old-school skin, thick enough to be truly crunchy on the outside, but still nicely chewy on the inside.
                                                                    2) is properly fried. The oil is at the correct temperature, and so it isn't absorbed by the egg roll. Egg rolls should NOT be oily!
                                                                    3) is filled with pleasing things. The veggies should be very fresh and properly shredded, tender but still full of lightly crispy texture. The roasted pork and shrimp inside are for flavor and to add a little more texture. They aren't the main point, but they should be there! There should be enough pork and/or shrimp to flavor every bite.

                                                                    A lousy egg roll might be;
                                                                    1) poorly fried. The most common mark of this is an egg roll that leaves an oilslick on your plate and seeps oil into your mouth when you bite into it. I've also seen overfried egg rolls where the skins pass crispy crunchy with the nice chewy inside to dessicated shells.
                                                                    2) full of lousy veggies. Overcooked so they have no texture is usually my biggest complaint. Great egg rolls are really exercises in textures, crispy outer skin with chewy interior skin, nicely shredded tender/crisp veggies, a bit of chewiness from the shredded pork...once the veggies are limp and watery, the game is up.
                                                                    3) don't have flavorful meat. Don't get me wrong, I've had good veggie egg rolls, but they usually have something like a mostly dry mushroom giving some extra flavor and a bit of internal chewiness. Chicken egg rolls are a lousy idea. Something with a lot of flavor and chew is what's needed. The shredded roast pork fits the bill nicely.

                                                                    1. KaimukiMan Dec 12, 2012 11:34 AM

                                                                      Do you ever feel really stupid after you read the full posting and responses?

                                                                      i have no idea why, but i thought there was a way to tell if eggs had gone bad if they roll differently. i think i need to go back to bed and start the day over.

                                                                      1. njmarshall55 Dec 13, 2012 01:56 PM

                                                                        1. Lack of greasiness
                                                                        2. Tightness (hate loose rolls)
                                                                        3. Mix of contents
                                                                        4. Level of fry-ness (not raw, not burnt)
                                                                        5. Dipping sauce (I mix soy sauce with hot mustard, or ground chili paste [from huy fong])

                                                                        1. smithareeny Dec 13, 2012 02:08 PM

                                                                          I worked at a small Chinese take out in high school and they had the best eggrolls. They had diced celery (inner leaves only) chicken and ginger. They were wrapped in an egg roll wrapper then dipped in batter. OMG-delish.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: smithareeny
                                                                            suzigirl Dec 13, 2012 02:19 PM

                                                                            Those sound like the ones I can get in my town. The right mix of filling and the batter dipping take them over the top.

                                                                            1. re: suzigirl
                                                                              Chemicalkinetics Dec 13, 2012 03:46 PM

                                                                              Sound unhealthy.

                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                                                                suzigirl Dec 13, 2012 04:28 PM

                                                                                I am sure they are. I'm okay with that. The cornstarch slurry they put them in makes them uber crunchy. Everything in moderation.

                                                                          2. shaogo Jan 26, 2013 06:16 PM

                                                                            Lots of Chowhounders herein have mentioned making their own egg rolls -- some have offered delicious-sounding recipes.

                                                                            If you have an Asian store and can get the wrappers (again; the thick, egg-roll wrappers made from fresh egg pasta; not spring-roll wrappers), I suggest trying the following:

                                                                            Prepare half a batch of your fave cabbage/celery/carrot mixture that's been marinated in rice wine, a bit of soy, salt, white pepper and MSG. Squeeze thoroughly.

                                                                            In the center of each egg roll, place 2 oz cooked corned beef and a hunk of Swiss cheese. Add the veggies to surround and roll-up, trying to get the corned beef and cheese to be surrounded by the cabbage mixture.

                                                                            Fry as usual.

                                                                            Pass these egg rolls with Russian dressing that you've spiked with Chinese mustard.

                                                                            When I make these at the restaurant, they're gone in a day! (and at $4.50 apiece).

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: shaogo
                                                                              j
                                                                              justalex Jan 26, 2013 07:00 PM

                                                                              Yum! One of my favorite Irish pubs serves these rolls. They're called (what else?) Irish rolls. I think they come three to an order for $8.99. So good!

                                                                              1. re: justalex
                                                                                monkeyrotica Jan 28, 2013 09:16 AM

                                                                                Reminds me of Philly Cheese Steak Eggrolls. A couple Chinese carryouts serve them near me, but not nearly as good as I've had in Philly.

                                                                                1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                                                  fldhkybnva Jan 28, 2013 09:22 AM

                                                                                  Yea, a few places here also serve them and I used to get very excited but then was let down every time. My family is from Philly so perhaps I should try them next time that I am home.

                                                                            2. fldhkybnva Jan 28, 2013 09:22 AM

                                                                              It has been a few years, but I have to admit that I used to love the Tex Mex egg rolls at the Cheesecake Factory. I haven't been in a while so not sure if they'd still win me over, but if I did find myself there they would definitely be on the table.

                                                                              1. jrvedivici Jan 30, 2013 09:21 AM

                                                                                Good vs. Bad I agree with nikkib99 way above.

                                                                                Great Egg Roll......The Italian Egg Roll !! Stuffed with 4 kinds of cheese, broccoli rabe and chopped Italian sausage!! Served with a side of marinara / red gravy.

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