Egg Rolls

This is a terrific cookbook. I picked my copy up at a yard sale or thrift shop a couple years ago, but I only this month really curled up with it and gave it a good read. It’s a treasure.

The Thursday Night Feast and Good Plain Meals Cookbook by Sigrid M. Shepard is an outstanding source for authentic Asian home-cooking using ingredients that you can usually find even in our local grocery stores (where one of three grocery stores carries tofu, and not very much of that, and not at all reasonably priced).

Within each category the selections are pretty comprehensive, but it’s more of an ‘eastern’ cookbook than Asian. The categories include Chinese, Middle Eastern, Indonesian, Indian, and Japanese cuisine. In each of those categories we have an general overview, meal suggestions, an explanation of basic ingredients and how to make, obtain, or substitute for them, soups, appetizers, salads, breads (if applicable), pickles, rice and noodles, vegetable side dishes, vegetable main dishes, meat main dishes, and sweets.

Unfortunately, it’s out of print. According to Amazon, Mrs. Shepard has published two other cookbooks of eastern or Asian cuisine, and though I haven’t seen them, I can’t imagine they would not be just as excellent. In fact, I wonder if at least one of them might not be a republishing of the Thursday Feasts book. The other two books are Asian Food Feast and Natural food feasts from the Eastern World.

The Thursday Feast book gets its name from a Thursday evening cooking class Mrs. Shepard taught. She and her students made a dozen or so dishes every Thursday over a year, and then they feasted. Every recipe is explained clearly and most are accompanied with clear pen and ink sketches of the processes and ingredients.

Here’s one of the egg roll recipes.  I’ll share others over the course of next week.

Deep-Fried Shrimp or Crab Egg Rolls (serves 6 to 8)

4 eggs and 3 egg yolks, beaten until well mixed but not frothy
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp peanut oil
OR vegetable oil

Add salt to eggs. Mix well. Heat a medium cast iron skillet over medium heat. Oil skillet with a pastry brush. When a small drop of egg sets, add 3 Tbsp egg mixture. Roll pan to evenly distribute egg mixture. Fry 1 to 2 minutes until edge is brown and easily pulls away from sides of skillet. Loosen edges with a knife and flip egg skin. Fry 30 seconds. Remove from pan. Oil pan again. Repeat process until all egg mixture is used. Set egg skins aside for later use.

Mrs. Shepard published this book in 1976 when ethnic foods of all sorts were considered exotic if you lived anyplace smaller than, say, New York City. I remember my parents complaining about not being able to find some staple in Tex-Mex cooking when they moved to Canada in the sixties. Now even most Wal-marts carry ready-made egg roll wrappers. This cookbook is thorough- no ready made convenience foods here. Once your wrappers are made, you are ready to begin work on the filling:

1 Tbsp peanut oil
OR vegetable oil
2 thin slices fresh ginger root, minced.
2 green onions, cut into thin diagonal slices.

Heat a wok over high heat. Add oil. Heat until a piece of onion added sizzles. Add ginger and onion. Stir and fry 30 seconds.

1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
OR green beans, cut into long thin diagonals

Add to wok. Stir and fry 1 minute to heat.

1/2 cup small fresh or canned shimp
OR crab meat

Add to wok. Stir and fry 1 minute to heat.

2 cups cabbage shredded
OR bean sprouts
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp mild honey

Add cabbage or bean sprouts. Sprinkle salt and honey over vegetables. Mix well. Cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Place in a bowl. Cool.

1 egg white
1 Tbsp arrowroot starch
1 tsp mild honey
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp soy sauce

Beat egg white slightly. Add starch. Mix well. add salt and honey. Mix well. Pour over filling mixture. Mix well.

Paste:

2 egg whites
1 Tbsp arrowroot starch

Beat egg whites slightly. Add starch. Mix well.

3 cups peanut oil
OR vegetable oil

ASSEMBLING AND FRYING EGG ROLL:
Place egg skin on bread board sprinkled lightly with arrowroot starch. Paste inside of egg skin. Place 3 Tbsp filling on skin. spread filling evenly over egg skin. Leave 1 inch free on right, left and top sides of egg skin. Fold right side over filling. Fold left side over filling. Roll toward unfilled top. Seal edge of roll with paste. Continue process until all skins are used. Heat a wok over high heat. Add oil and heat until a piece of egg skin added sizzles. Place 1 egg roll on a large wire spoon or tempura spoon. Lower into hot oil. Fry over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oil. Fry until all egg rolls are cooked. Cut into 1 inch slices. Best served warm. Serve with mustard sauce or plum sauce to dip egg rolls in. Excellent snack or appetizer. Good served as one of the dishes in cold course at a feast.

VARIATION:
VEGETARIAN DEEP-FRIED EGG ROLLS [serves 6 to 8]

Leave out shrimp in filling

Follow recipe for deep fried shrimp or Crab Egg Rolls. Cook as directed. Leave out shrimp in filing. Excellent snack or appetizer. Good served as one of dishes in cold course at a feast.

Variations are also given for meat and chicken filled egg rolls.


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