Unfrying the Egg Roll


Chinese food emphasizes vegetables, grains and fruits--ingredients that can protect against major diseases such as cancer and heart disease. However, some Chinese treats do go a little heavy on the cooking oil.

With this in mind, I set out to slim down my favorite food from the old-school Chinese-American style: the egg roll.

The filling was easy to adjust, but isn’t a dip in the deep-fat fryer the only way to achieve the crisp exterior in an eggroll?


I experimented and found that baking was the solution. The exterior of the baked egg rolls crisped nicely within 15 to 20 minutes in a 400-degree oven, especially if lightly brushed with flavorful sesame oil.

Egg rolls became my perfect fast food appetizer for the busy holidays. Assembled weeks ahead of a party, they could be placed uncooked on a baking sheet to freeze, then stored in plastic food bags. I baked them frozen to prevent the filling from saturating the egg roll skin, watching for the required crispy golden exterior.


Below are two favorite recipes for baked-not-fried egg rolls, one large and one miniature. All become staples in my freezer from now until Jan. 2, to satisfy the hungry holiday hordes.



1 cup diced onions

1 tablespoon minced ginger root

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups diced celery

1/2 cup diced shiitake mushrooms

1/2 cup diced button mushrooms

3 cups diced green cabbage

1 cup diced canned bamboo shoots, drained

1 cup diced canned water chestnuts, drained

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, preferably tamari

1 tablespoon rice wine or mirin

1 tablespoon honey or sugar

24 egg roll skins

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil, warmed

Heat 1/4 cup water in wok. Add onions, ginger root and garlic. Stir-fry until onions are tender but not browned, 5 minutes. Add celery, mushrooms, cabbage, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. Stir-fry until vegetables are tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Add soy, rice wine and honey. Toss well. Place mixture in colander over bowl. Let stand 10 minutes to drain off excess moisture.

Stack egg roll skins on flat surface, with 1 corner pointing away from you. Have small bowl of water ready. Spoon 1/4 cup drained filling into center of egg roll skin. Lightly brush edges with water. Fold side corners to center, covering filling. Bring bottom corner to center of fold. Tuck under slightly and continue to roll egg roll into cylinder, sealing top corner by lightly moistening with water and pressing down.

Repeat process. Place egg rolls, seam side down, on 2 nonstick baking sheets. Do not crowd. Lightly brush each egg roll with little sesame oil. Bake at 400 degrees on center oven shelf, turning once, until golden and crispy, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes 24 egg rolls.



This interesting egg roll is wrapped with filo pastry rather than traditional egg roll wrappings. The recipe is adapted from one that appeared in Health magazine.


1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms


1/3 cup sliced green onions

2 teaspoons grated ginger root

1/4 cup seeded and minced green or sweet red pepper

1 cup chopped Chinese or green cabbage

1 cup chopped fresh bean sprouts

2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce

8 sheets filo dough

Hot mustard

Place mushrooms in bowl with hot water to cover. Let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile bring 2 tablespoons water to boil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add green onions, ginger root, green pepper and cabbage. Cover skillet and cook mixture 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add bean sprouts, sesame oil and soy sauce.

Drain mushrooms. Cut off and discard stems. Chop caps into small pieces and add to vegetable mixture. Place mixture in colander set over bowl. Let stand 10 minutes to drain off excess moisture.

Use 1 sheet of filo dough at time, keeping remaining sheets covered so they won’t dry out. Lightly coat top with vegetable cooking spray, then fold in half. Coat again with spray. Cut filo into 4 (6 1/2x4 1/2-inch) rectangles. Place 1 tablespoon vegetable filling on short side of each rectangle. Fold in long sides and roll up. Place roll, seam side down, on nonstick baking sheet. Repeat until all egg rolls are assembled. Lightly coat tops of egg rolls with cooking spray. Bake at 450 degrees until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Serve at once with hot mustard. Makes 32 miniature egg rolls.