I remember the very first egg roll I ever had.
I was raised by a single mama who worked and went to school; we didn’t have a lot of splurges. I was 12 or 13, maybe 14, and my mom dropped me off at the mall. I don’t remember why–maybe she was doing something at school, and the mall was nearby. Anyway, I had some time to walk around by myself, window shop. I got hungry, and I thought I’d just wait until I got home, when it finally occurred to me that I could buy something for myself! I looked around at my options and an Asian place looked the best to me. I didn’t have enough babysitting money for a full meal, but I did have .99 cents plus tax for an egg roll.
The egg roll was hot, amazingly crispy and crunchy on the outside, melty and sweet, sour, salty on the inside. I’d never had anything like it, and instantly loved it! Mind you, fries, chicken nuggets, and eating out in general were not on our usual list of things to do. Egg rolls quickly made it to the top of my most wanted list, and I got one every chance I had from then on! The problem is that every subsequent egg roll wasn’t nearly as good as that first one. They were dry, stale, had bland filling, or very little filling in ratio to fried wrapper–you name it, egg rolls fell off my list as soon as they went on.
Then I decided to try my hand at them. I had some leftover sweet potatoes and rice noodles and thought that would make a great base for some additional veggies. They turned out sweet, fresh, citrusy, and crispy crunchy! The sweet potato mix did make the wraps soften the longer they sat, so eat them right away, or just reheat them in the oven to crisp them up a bit.
A little flavor…
Assembly line magic…
And a spicy soy dipping sauce and coconut cilantro rice on the side…
SWEET POTATO VEGGIE EGG ROLLS
- 1 baked sweet potato, peeled and mashed
- zest and juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups rice noodles, prepared according to package directions
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced red pepper, about 2 inches in length
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced snow peas, about 2 inches in length
- 1/2 cup peeled carrot (peel the carrot stick, then just keep on peeling), about 2 inches in length
- 1/2 cup sliced scallion, sliced on the diagonal, about 2 inches in length
- 1 package large square egg roll wrappers
- 1 egg, beaten
INGREDIENTS FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/4 cup scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon sambal oelek chili paste (more if you want more heat)
- Mix the first seven ingredients (the sweet potato through salt and pepper) in a bowl, mix well.
- Set up the assembly line: Bowl of sweet potato mixture, bowl of rice noodles, plate of sliced veggies, egg roll wraps, and beaten egg.
- Place a wrapper on the diagonal on the plate. First scoop 3 teaspoons of sweet potato mixture and place in the center of the wrap. Layer with 1/4 cup rice noodles and a few slices of each veggie.
- Brush the edges of the wrap with the beaten egg. First fold the bottom triangle over the veggies, then fold the two side triangles and roll. You may need to seal the final triangle edge with a little more egg wash. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Heat 4 inches of canola oil in a pot to 365F. Fry each egg roll until golden brown on each side.
- Stir together all the dipping ingredients and serve with the egg rolls.