Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Alternative Egg Rolls

Welcome back! Since I didn’t give you a recipe at all last time and instead, made you go grocery shopping, I’ll make it up to you today. I’ll give you one of my favorite recipes along with some suggestions for mixing it up a bit.

Do you like egg rolls? I really do. However, unless the chef is willing to share his secrets with me, I really shouldn’t eat them at a restaurant. Instead, I’ve figured out a quick and simple way of making up an alternative that is full of great flavor. Here’s what you’ll need:

· Skillet – 12” or larger
· One cooked, boneless, skinless chicken breast
· One cup cooked brown rice (cook according to package directions)
· One cup shredded cabbage – red or green or a combination (which is pretty)
· 3 or 4 T rice vinegar (I like garlic infused)
· One package of egg roll wrappers
· Extra virgin olive oil (enough to fill your skillet about ½ - ¾ “ deep
· Optional ingredients: cooked seafood or firm fish of your choice, shredded carrot (about ¼ cup), minced celery, 2 or 3 green onions sliced fine

Dice the chicken breast (or seafood or fish of your choice) into ½ “ pieces. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine chicken, brown rice, cabbage (and carrot, celery and onion, if you choose) and toss all with rice vinegar.

NOTE: You can stop right here. Dinner’s ready if you’d like a chicken salad with a twist. This is a REALLY BIG meal for one or a great main dish for two with some nice fresh fruit on the side. Or, you can carry on and have the mocked-up egg rolls. Want to go on? Okay, let’s!

Heat the skillet with the olive oil while you prepare the egg rolls. I suggest heating on medium since olive oil will smoke if too hot. Smells weird, tastes a little off and your rolls will get too brown too quickly. All around, not a good thing.

Lay an egg roll wrapper flat and place roughly 2 T of the chicken and cabbage mixture in the center. Arrange it in sort of a rectangle. Fold the wrapper like a burrito. That is, fold the ends in and then roll it up. You can lightly seal it with a bit of water but don’t expect it to hold together really well. This will take some careful handling. Go ahead and prepare several of these rolls. You can use all of your chicken mixture or you can make half into rolls and put the other half away for a nice chicken salad lunch tomorrow.

CAREFULLY place the rolls, seam down, in the skillet. Be sure to leave plenty or room between the rolls. You might have to do them a few at a time. Flip the rolls when the wrapper has cooked to a golden color. Watch carefully because this doesn’t take long! Remove the rolls from the oil to a rack or plate covered with paper towel to absorb extra oil.

This will make 8 – 12 rolls, depending on how much you fill the wrappers. You can make only as many as you want right now and save the rest of the mixture for tomorrow, either to make more rolls or to eat as salad.

Personally, I like this mixture so much as a salad, I rarely get as far as making the rolls. But when I do, I’m always glad I was patient enough to do it. They are very satisfyingly crunchy as well as VERY filling! You won’t fool anyone into thinking you’ve hidden Chef Morimoto in your kitchen, but these rolls are simple and tasty and can be thrown together very easily some evening after work since the meat and rice can be cooked ahead. Most often, I pick up one of those rotisserie chickens from my local grocery store deli. As always, be sure to know what ingredients are in the deli’s seasoning mixture, just to be on the safe side. When in doubt, cook it yourself. In a pinch, you can use the canned chicken breast.

You’ll notice I had you use brown rice for this. As we talked about last time, using the whole grain option adds another layer of flavor and even texture to your dishes. Brown rice is as readily available as white and takes no more effort to cook. It’s a simple adjustment and you’ll be very glad you tried it.

Hope you enjoy this and until next time, let’s go eat that!

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