The last time I made egg rolls was in 1982 — on a day I would much rather forget. But I can't.
I thought it would be a fun project for my toddler daughter and me to make together. So I went to the store and gathered all the ingredients, including a can of tiny shrimp. I don't even know if they sell tiny shrimp anymore in cans, but we proceeded to make the egg rolls, and they turned out beautifully -- picture perfect. That's when everything went wrong. By the next day my husband and I were laid out on mattresses on the floor of the apartment we'd just moved into.
Without filling you in on all the details not terribly appropriate for a food column, I will tell you that the canned shrimp I got must have spoiled. We couldn't move for 24 hours and had to call on family to come over and care for the little one.
After 40 years of trusting my occasional egg roll craving to Chinese restaurants, I decided to give it another go. This time, though, no canned shrimp. I was looking at making them a little more healthful in the air fryer rather than the deep fryer.
There are many different recipes online, so I was certainly not the first to think of making egg rolls in the air fryer.
So I gathered all my ingredients -- ground chicken, some cabbage and whatever oriental sauces I had in the refrigerator -- I always have plenty because we love Chinese food. So I made my little egg rolls, tucking in their sides spraying them with oil and cooking them in the air fryer. It was a fun experience, and they turned out OK.
As a test, I tried deep-frying a few of them in oil, and those came out a little better, though erasing the health angle I was aiming for. It was a trade-off.
I made about a dozen and put leftovers in a freezer bag. They reheat nicely in the air fryer or oven if you let them defrost a bit before reheating.
Here's the recipe that I found online and tweaked, but that's the beauty of egg rolls -- you can stuff them with just about anything. I've seen so many different versions in restaurants, from pulled pork with turnip greens to Cajun egg rolls with shrimp and andouille sausage served with a spicy remoulade at a New Orleans restaurant I visited years ago. Use ground pork or chicken, or leave the meat out and go vegetarian. Play with your food and see what you can come up with. This recipe will get you started.
Air Fryer Egg Rolls
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2-3 cups coleslaw mix
1/2 pound ground chicken
3 tablespoons hoison sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon sriracha, or to taste (optional)
1/2 cup roughly chopped green onions
12 egg roll wrappers
Olive oil spray
Heat oil in a pan, and stir-fry garlic, ginger and celery till fragrant. Add the coleslaw mix, and cook till the cabbage is wilted.
Add the ground chicken, hoison sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and sriracha, if using. Stir-fry the chicken 3-4 minutes, while breaking it up into small pieces. Once the chicken is cooked and there is no liquid left in the pan, stir in the green onions, and remove from stove.
To wrap the egg rolls, place the egg roll wrapper so that one corner is toward you. Place a tablespoon of filling in the bottom half (toward you), and wrap that corner over the filling. turn both sides over the wrapper and then continue rolling away from you (like a burrito), till you reach the end. Seal the edges with some water or a beaten egg. Repeat till all the wrappers are made.
Spray the basket of the air fryer with olive oil spray. Place the egg rolls in the basket, and lightly spray the tops of the egg rolls with the olive oil spray. Cook at 400 degrees for 6 minutes. Then flip the egg rolls, and cook for an additional 6 minutes.
Note: If you do not have an air fryer, these egg rolls can be fried in a skillet with enough oil to cover about 1/2 or 3/4 of the way. They will fry quickly so make sure you keep an eye on them and turn so they will brown evenly.
Hello Monty, 306 W. Main St., one of the Southside's most-popular restaurant/bars, is launching a new weekly event, Break Even Bottle Night, featuring a different spirit every Thursday from 5 p.m. until the bottles run dry. The promotion offers guests a perfect opportunity to sample liquors they may not ordinarily order. For example, this week, two Old Forrester whiskeys are featured: 1910 Old Fine Whisky and 1920 Prohibition Style Whisky.
The Thursday night Break Even Bottle Nights are a spin-off from the Thursday night specials that Hello Monty owner Rob Gentry used to feature at his beloved tiny Robar next to his former Blue Plate Diner.
If you can't make it on Thursday nights for Break Even Bottle Night, Hello Monty's Monty Hour happens 6-9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with prices that will make you happy. A sampling: $4 Dynamo beers, $15 carafe cocktails, half-priced bottles of wine, $5 flatbreads and $6 Brussels sprouts.