Sweet and Spicy Half-Baked Egg Rolls

 

Pineapple with ginger, garlic and Sriracha hot chili sauce makes the perfect sweet and spicy flavor combination in these non-traditional pork egg rolls. Baking and then very lightly frying the egg rolls creates the crispy outer shell we all love.

Sweet and Spicy Half-Baked Egg RollsThe Hubs and I are Supercross fans. If you’re not familiar, that’s professional indoor dirt bike racing. I became a fan out of necessity when I acquired the Hubs. He was a amateur racer back in the 70’s so he introduced me to the sport and now I’m a pretty committed fan – sometimes I even know more facts and stats than he does. Since it’s Supercross season now, we spend our Saturday nights watching the races live on TV. It’s like football Sundays, so I like to make some fun food to make it more festive.

This week, since it’s Chinese New Year, I got a hankering for homemade egg rolls. I am no expert on egg roll making, mind you, but I have tried them a few times to varying degrees of success. The first time, I followed a fairly complicated traditional recipe that called for several ingredients I didn’t have but I bought because I wanted them to be correct. They were tasty, but a little too fussy with the non-pantry items for me. I tried a simpler recipe another time and tried baking them to avoid the evil frying method. Eh. They didn’t crisp up enough in the oven, as least for my tastes. They had crispy spots but also had some doughy spots. They were just ok.

So, when I set out to make egg rolls this weekend, I decided to try a new method for both the filling and the cooking. I still had some pineapple from my last Bountiful Basket collection and the Hubs loves it combined with pork and cabbage, which I also had on hand. Why not make the filling a little sweet with the pineapple and then spice it up with the traditional ginger, garlic and Sriracha? Sounded good to me, but the Hubs was doubtful about veering from a more traditional filling (ie. no pineapple). Whatever :). I wanted the crispy outer shell, so I decided to bake them, but then fry them in just a teensy tiny bit of oil so the shell would be crisp, but the insides wouldn’t be swimming in the frying oil.

Sweet and Spicy Half-Baked Egg Rolls

The results were quite wonderful! The filling was exactly what I had in mind – spicy with that slight touch of sweetness and the shells were pretty crunchy. They do not turn out quite as crunchy as the fully fried kind, but definitely better than the just baked type and lower in fat than deep-fried. The Hubs fully approved of the half-baked compromise, so I take that as a WIN! They were a great race-night dinner and I would serve them to guests :)

Sweet and Spicy Half-Baked Egg Rolls

I didn’t worry about using ingredients I didn’t have and focused instead on what I did have on hand, so I encourage you to do the same as you use this recipe. If you don’t have something listed, omit and add something you do have and it’ll work! I used pork, but you could use ground beef, chicken, turkey or omit the meat for a vegetarian version. I think shrimp would also be really awesome in these rolls.

Sweet and Spicy Half-Baked Egg Rolls

Serves 18
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Appetizer, Lunch, Main Dish, Side Dish, Snack, Starter
Misc Child Friendly, Serve Hot
Occasion Birthday Party, Casual Party, Super Bowl
Region Asian
Pineapple with ginger, garlic and Sriracha hot chili sauce makes the perfect sweet and spicy flavor combination in these non-traditional pork egg rolls. Baking and then very lightly frying the egg rolls creates the crispy outer shell we all love.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1lb ground pork
  • 2-3 carrots (finely diced or julienned)
  • 4-5 green onions (thinly sliced, both green and white sections)
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1.5 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 2-3 teaspoons Sriracha hot chili sauce (found at most grocery stores in the Asian food dept. Use more or less to taste - it's pretty spicy!)
  • 1/2 head cabbage (shredded (or use a bag of coleslaw mix))
  • 1 cup pineapple (well drained and finely diced)
  • 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce (I use as )
  • 1 handful cilantro, finely chopped (omit if you're a cilantro hater)
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 18-20 egg roll wrappers (my package contained 20 and I ended up with 18 rolls)
  • 1/4 cup peanut or canola oil (I used canola, but peanut is better for frying)

Directions

Filling
Step 1 Begin by slicing, dicing and mincing all veggies - and pineapple. Leave the wrappers in the fridge until you're ready to roll.
Step 2 Sweet and Spicy Half-Baked Egg Rolls
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame oil and allow to warm before adding the ground pork. Salt and pepper, then add the ginger and cook until the carrots become tender. Add green onions, garlic and a glug of soy sauce. When meat is cooked through, drain off any grease.
Step 3 Sweet and Spicy Half-Baked Egg Rolls
Return to skillet and cook over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage and pineapple and another glug of soy sauce. Allow the cabbage to wilt down, stirring often. When cabbage is fully softened, add the Sriracha hot chili sauce and stir into the mixture. Add lime juice and cilantro and cook for another minute or two before removing from heat. Drain excess liquid from the pan, so the filling doesn't seep out of the egg rolls.
Rolls
Step 4 Preheat over to 425 and line two baking sheets with foil, then spray with cooking oil. Remove wrappers from the fridge and place the pile inside a lightly dampened dish towel, so they don't dry out. Remove one at a time as needed. Lay a piece of parchment or waxed paper on your work surface.
Step 5 Sweet and Spicy Half-Baked Egg Rolls
Egg roll wrappers are delicate and don't have a lot of stretch to them, so be gentle when rolling. Aim for a fairly tight roll, but don't pull to too tight or it will tear.
Lay the wrapper out so that the corners are facing to the top and bottom and to the left and right, like a diamond. Place about two heaping tablespoons full of the filling mixture in the middle of the wrapper.
Step 6 Sweet and Spicy Half-Baked Egg Rolls
Fold the sides inward, so they just touch.
Step 7 Sweet and Spicy Half-Baked Egg Rolls
Fold the bottom corner up and gently tuck over and under the filling, then roll up. Use your finger to paint a little water on the flap to seal it. Place seam side down on the baking sheet.
Step 8 Sweet and Spicy Half-Baked Egg Rolls
Bake for about 15-20 minutes until the shell is starting to crisp. Gently flip about halfway through. The pan on the lower level of my oven cooked faster, so I also switched them halfway through.
Step 9 During the last few minutes of baking, heat a medium saute pan over medium high heat. Add enough cooking oil to just cover the bottom of the pan - about 1/8 an inch.
Step 10 Sweet and Spicy Half-Baked Egg Rolls
Using tongs, carefully place a few baked egg rolls in the saute pan. They WILL burn VERY quickly! Turn every second or two until all sides are golden, then remove to drain on a plate lined with cloth or paper towels.
Step 11 Serve immediately with your favorite condiments, such as Asian dipping sauce, hot mustard or sweet chili sauce.

Notes

As mentioned above, feel free to play around with the filling ingredients and swap out the pork for other proteins, or just go vegetarian. You can also add more of the traditional egg roll ingredients such as water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, etc.

I tend to use both soy sauce and stir-fry sauce to flavor the filling, so use whatever you like.

We really enjoyed the filling even without the wrappers, so I can see us just eating that for dinner on a busy night when we don't have time for the whole wrapping phase.

These don't stay crunchy for long, so don't prepare ahead of time. 2-3 rolls are enough for an adult serving as they are pretty hearty.

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