In the food world, there seems to be a distance from the word "authentic" these days. The chatter used to include phrases like "to get authentic so-and-so food, you have to go to this place" or "this restaurant makes truly authentic dishes." I think people have realized that "authentic" is like one of those buzzwords that doesn't mean all that much, such as "superfood" or "paleo." If you watch cooking or restaurant shows these days, you will hear things like "this is my interpretation of a classic dish" or "I drew inspiration from traditional dishes to make this take on..." After all, is anything truly "authentic"?
For this post, I am describing my take on "egg rolls." Maybe someone who makes them his or her own way won't like my interpretation or maybe my interpretation is way off of from what they should be. Does this matter? I liked how the rolls turned out and maybe other people will too.
"Egg rolls" have different definitions depending on which kind you are referring to and this makes categorizing them a little difficult. You could also call them "spring rolls," especially if you use rice paper to roll them. Depending on which region of Asia you eat them in, the rolls have different fillings and may be fried or not. To me, this makes them open to interpretation while taking inspiration from Asian flavours. I like to think I'm respecting the original origins and not completely tarnishing the dish (Butter Chicken poutine, I'm looking at you).
Speaking of something authentic, I think it's safe to say it is indisputably spring. I snapped this photo of the canal in Ottawa a few weeks back where you can see one side of the canal stuck in winter with snow and the other side ready for summer with green grass and people having picnics, walking and biking. The padlocks on this bridge (the Somerset Bridge) are similar to the "love locks" in Paris, France where people hang locks from the bridge to symbolize their love. I have had a few walks by the canal in the last little while to enjoy the nice weather.
I bought half a dozen scones from The Scone Witch in Ottawa on the weekend. I can now say I have completed the unofficial bakery tour of Ottawa. I suppose tasting regional cuisine involves going to a specific place to try a particular food although I don't know what Ottawa's regional cuisine would be. Maybe "Beavertails"? Ottawa has some great bakeries, but would someone in England say that a scone made in Ottawa, Canada is "authentic."? In terms of these scones, they were airy, flavourful and not too dense, and I enjoyed the imaginative flavours, such as lemon, currant, ginger, vanilla, cheddar and herbs.
Back to the egg rolls. I based my recipe on this recipe I found for baked chicken egg rolls. You will find egg roll wrappers in the produce or deli section of the grocery store. I have also tried this recipe with wonton wrappers and had similar results. I believe the difference between the two wrappers is that egg roll wrappers are made from flour and wonton wrappers are made from rice flour. Both of the wrappers have a slightly different size and I found the texture of each was similar after baking.
Baked Vegetable Egg RollsIngredients:
20 egg roll wrappers
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 package of coleslaw mix
1/2 cucumber julienned
Directions:1. Combine the coleslaw mix and cucumber. You can also add additional shredded carrots if you want. Add the hoisin and soy sauce.
2. Fill a small bowl with water. Lay out the egg roll wrapper and fill it with about 2 to 3 tbsp of filling.
3. Fold the left and right edges in and then roll the wrapper. Seal the edges with a dab of water.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray some cooking oil on a foiled baking sheet.
5. Halfway through baking flip the rolls. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.
I served the rolls with a dipping sauce of soy sauce as well as sesame oil with a dollop of chilli garlic sauce. My reasoning behind using coleslaw mix is the convenience factor. Feel free to add any other chopped vegetables you want for texture. You want the vegetables to be long and thin to match the size of the wrappers. There are few tutorials online on the best way to wrap the rolls. As long as the edges stick together and there are no holes for the filling to come out, they should look and taste pretty good.
These got good reviews from my house and some weekend guests. I also convinced people that these are healthier than Chinese takeout. I mean, they are literally vegetables in a wrapper right? I'm not saying I never crave Chinese food takeout, but these are a nice alternative as an appetizer before my own version of stirfried rice or noodles.