Monday, January 30, 2012

Egg Rolls and Geo Politics: Cooking Chinese with Kids

Kids are funny, aren’t they?

I don’t know about yours, but my son’s favorite playthings are often not even toys. Give him a map and hours later you’ll find him tracing his way from Maine to California. Google maps and GeoMasters are tied as his favorite iPad apps. Neither he nor I could live without our car’s GPS; we’re simply motivated by different needs.

Maps aren’t his only geo-political obsession. I have a whole slew of his drawings of the flags of the world dating back to 2010.

Late last year, we hatched an idea that combined his love of nation states and my love of cooking. Regularly, we plan to focus on a country. We dedicated a blank book to this purpose. In it, he’ll draw the nation’s flag and pair it with a few quick facts about the selected country. For my part, he and I will cook together a meal from the country.

Starting with China, we launched our project on Saturday to coincide with the country’s New Year. We made Egg Rolls and Shrimp Toast from scratch and enjoyed Stir-Fried Hoisin Pork with Peppers from Grace Young’s Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge.

Chicken Egg Rolls

A few years ago, I comandeered a few my mom's old cookbooks including The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook by Gloria Bley Miller, and this recipe is adapted from one in that book.

Makes 10

Raw ingredients
2 tablespoons dried porcini
1/4 pound chicken breast
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon tamari
2 1/2 cups bean sprouts
4 cups fresh spinach, loosely packed, sliced into 1-inch ribbons
The greens of 2 scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons peanut oil
Egg roll skins
Vegetable oil for frying
Sweet and Sour Sauce for dipping

Soak the mushrooms in hot water.

Cut the chicken breast into very thin strips. Combine cornstarch, sugar, salt, and tamari in a small bowl. Add the chicken strips and stir to coat. Let the chicken sit for 10 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the bean sprouts in the water for 2 minutes. Drain.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook a few minutes or until it's no longer pink. Remove from the pan and let cool on a small plate.

Fresh filling ingredients
Cooked filling
Heat remaining oil in the pan. Add the scallions and saute for a minute. Dump in the bean sprouts and spinach and cook until the spinach is softened. Return the chicken to the pan and stir together all the ingredients.

Scrape the mixture into a colander and let drain while it cools.

Heat a large pot filled with several inches of vegetable oil over high heat.

Fill egg roll skins according to package. Set the filled egg rolls onto a plate.

When the oil reaches 375-F degrees. Add 3 egg rolls at a time to the pot. Cook until the egg rolls are golden brown. Drain and serve hot with sweet and sour sauce.


  1. This is probably right up your guys' alley:

  2. Hanna, Thank you for sharing. Those are sooo cool. I love how they use the foods of the country's cuisine. What a great idea.


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