Post Update 1/16/11: I've made these egg rolls quite a few times since this original post and they are still a favorite with my husband, family and friends. They truly aren't too much work once you get the hang of the rolling process. I've continued to tweak the recipe and love the final product I've landed on. I've edited the recipe below to reflect changes and added some new photos to reflect my improving photo skills.
Original Post: I entered into this recipe with a lot of doubt. Crispy, crunchy egg rolls with no egg and no oil? No frying? Really?? No way. I had to try it anyway though. On the slight chance that this recipe would work, I just had to give it a shot.
About a year ago, I perfected a recipe for delicious vegan spring rolls-those are the ones wrapped in thin rice paper and filled with fresh veggies, herbs etc. They are really really good (and I'm sure will make an appearance on this blog sooner or later) and they made sense to me. A light, fresh dish with lots of crispy vegetables sounds like the kind of thing a vegan would prepare. The evil brother of the spring roll is that tempting little fried guy filled with a rich, hot filling and drenched in grease and oil. J has a specific love for these little devils, so I knew that if I could find a way to prepare them at home, he would be a very happy man. Once again, my friend at Fat Free Vegan showed me the way it could be done, although I ended up changing the recipe quite a bit in the end. This recipe is very simple, especially because you don't even have to pre-cook the filling. Just mix together the raw ingredients, wrap, and bake. The recipe is below:
1/2 head napa cabbage, chopped into fine strips
2 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks
2-3 scallions (white and green parts), chopped
2 tsp. sambal oelek (that red chili-garlic paste on the table at Chinese restaurants and for sale at Asian stores. You could use 1 tsp. Sriracha and 1 tsp. brown sugar instead if you can't find this in your stores)
6 oz. baked teriyaki style tofu, cut into small cubes
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
16 frozen spring roll wrappers (also at the Asian grocery near you)
These frozen spring roll wrappers are amazing. Keep them frozen until about 30 minutes before you begin to prepare your meal. Allow them to defrost at room temperature for an hour, still inside the packaging. Take them out of the wrapping and cover with a damp kitchen towel. This keeps them from drying out and will make them much easier to work with. After you mixed all filling ingredients, take one wrapper and place it on a flat surface with one corner facing you. Place about 2 heaping Tbsp. of filling in the bottom area of the wrapper and fold the bottom corner up over it. Roll the wrapper up one time, them fold each side corner tightly over the center. Roll the remaining way up and seal the top corner with a bit of water. The key is to try to roll as tightly as possible. After you make the first couple rolls, it will become very easy.
Place the assembled rolls on a lightly sprayed cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes. Flip them over and bake another 8 minutes until golden brown. Yes, they do get golden brown. Even without the oil. These egg rolls literally blew my mind. They were so good I called my mom right away and convinced her to try them out the very next day (she and my dad loved them too). They were so good that even though I have a feeling they would freeze very well for later, J and I devoured every single one (no I'm not ashamed). These egg rolls are so good that because I didn't have time to blog about them for about a week after I first made them, I'm actually writing this as my second batch cooks in the oven! You must try this recipe!!
You can dip these egg rolls in soy sauce or any duck sauce or hot & sour sauce of your liking. I make a generic Asian dipping sauce consisting of soy sauce, water, sugar and rice wine vinegar. Whatever suits your taste.
To pair with this dish, I wanted something light and crunchy. I still had half a napa cabbage, so I decided to make a slaw that we've been making in my family for a very long time, but to substitute the napa cabbage for the regular cabbage I normally use. Mix together:
1/2 napa cabbage, cut into fine strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into small strips
2 small carrots, cut into matchsticks or shredded
2 scallions, chopped
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
black pepper and hot pepper flakes to taste
Mix everything thoroughly and put it in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat. About an hour in the fridge helps to meld all the flavors together.