Beer-Infused Egg Rolls

Cooking with Beer by | Aug 2016 | Issue #115
photo by Sean Z. Paxton

Too many times, I’ve ordered egg rolls at a Chinese restaurant, only to get a greasy, soggy and bland appetizer. Not the best way to start a meal. This month I set out to improve the egg roll by adding flavor from different beer styles, making a truly satisfying starter that can also be a great bar snack.

Base Egg Rolls
These egg rolls can be made a few different ways. The base recipe is for a vegetarian egg roll, filled with shiitake and enoki mushrooms. For pork or duck egg rolls, mix the vegetable filling with Chinese Style BBQ Pork or Braised Duck Legs in a Flanders Red Plum Sauce.

Makes: 20 egg rolls

1 cup carrots, peeled and julienned
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup pea shoots
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, fresh, stems removed and sliced
8 oz enoki mushrooms, ends removed and separated
8 oz bamboo shoots, canned, rinsed and julienned
4 scallions or green onions, white and green part, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and julienned

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp garlic, peeled and minced fine
1 tbsp ginger, peeled and minced fine

1 recipe Chinese-Style BBQ Pork or Braised Duck Legs in a Flanders Red Plum Sauce
1 pkg egg roll or spring roll wrappers, 1 lb (20 count)
1 large egg (for egg wash)
3–4 cups oil, such as peanut or rice bran (for frying)

Serve With
1 recipe Hot Mustard Sauce
1 bottle Asian sweet chile sauce or Sriracha hot sauce

Filling Directions
Before you start cooking, prepare the carrots, bean sprouts, pea shoots, shiitake and enoki mushrooms, bamboo shoots, scallions, and bell pepper as described above.

In a wok or large skillet over high heat, add the oil, tilting to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and ginger. Stir with a spatula for 10 seconds, then add the mushrooms, bell peppers, and scallions, stirring well. After about a minute, add the bamboo shoots, carrots, and pea shoots, cooking for another minute or two, until all the vegetables are barely cooked through. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper. Transfer them to a casserole pan, spreading out to cook. The vegetables should hold their shape and have a slight crunch. They should not be soggy.

To make vegetarian egg rolls, use the filling as is. If you’re making Chinese-Style BBQ Pork egg rolls, add the sliced and julienned pork to the vegetables and mix to combine, allowing time to cool. To make egg rolls with Braised Duck Legs in a Flanders Red Plum Sauce, mix the shredded duck meat along with the sauce into the vegetables and allow cooling time.

To Make Egg Rolls
Remove the egg roll wrappers from their package and cover with a slightly damp towel to prevent the edges from drying out. Place one wrapper onto a clean, flat work surface, with one corner pointed toward you. Drop 2 tablespoons of filling just below the center line (between the right and left corners), forming it into a cigar shape. Take the corner closest to you and fold it over the filling, pulling it toward you to make a tight wrap, rolling once. Then, brush the left, top, and right edges of the roll with an egg wash. Fold the right and left corners to the edge of the filling and roll the cylinder away from you, sealing with the top corner. The key to a good egg roll is not using too much filling and rolling it tightly. Set on a sheet tray and repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers.

To Cook Egg Rolls
Take a good sized pot, fill with oil, and place over high heat until a thermometer reads 350°F. Carefully place 3–4 egg rolls, seam down, into the hot oil and fry for about 2 minutes a side, until golden brown. Flip, cooking the second side until the same shade is reached, then place on a cooling rack or a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining egg rolls. If you’re not serving them right away, place the tray into an oven preheated to 250°F. Serve with Hot Mustard Sauce and Sriracha hot sauce or Asian sweet chile sauce.

Braised Duck Legs in a Flanders Red Plum Sauce
Duck in plum sauce was the inspiration for this recipe. The more I thought about duck’s rich meaty flavors, I wanted to brighten the sauce with some acid without taking away from the flavor profile. Enter Flanders Red Ale: tart, acidic, with wonderful notes of cherry, strawberry, raspberry, and prune, which all enhance this recipe perfectly. Possibly the first Belgian-Asian fusion recipe, this dish will amaze you with the complexity the beer adds.

Makes: 1 1/2 cups of marinade/braising liquid

3/4 cup Flanders Red Ale, such as Rodenbach Grand Cru
5 tbsp plum sauce
2 tbsp barley miso
1 tbsp soy sauce, tamari or liquid aminos
1 tsp ginger, fresh, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp Ceylon cinnamon, ground
1 orange, zested and juiced

2 duck legs, whole (thigh and drumstick), about a pound

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a blender, add the Flanders Red Ale, plum sauce, barley miso (red or white miso can work as a replacement), soy sauce, ginger, cinnamon, orange zest, and juice. Purée on high until the braising liquid is smooth.

On the stovetop, place an ovenproof pan over high heat. Wash the duck legs under cold water, removing any blood and juice. Pat dry with paper towels. Place the dried duck legs skin side down into the empty pan to brown the skin and render out some of the fat. Leave the legs for 3–4 minutes, without moving them. Using tongs, flip them over and brown another 4 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the Flanders Red Plum Sauce and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid and place into the center of the oven. Braise the duck legs for an hour, checking the tenderness when the timer goes off. The legs should be easy to move at the joint and the internal temperature should read 210°F.

Remove the pan from the oven, taking the legs out and placing them onto a plate to cool. If needed, reduce the braising sauce over medium heat, until a glaze has been reached (about 3–5 minutes), watching closely to prevent burning.

The duck legs can be glazed with the Flanders Red Plum Sauce and served with a side of steamed rice or pearl barley. Or, to create Duck Egg Rolls, remove the skin, cut the meat from the bone, chop and mix it with the Flanders Red Plum Sauce and add it to the Egg Roll Ingredients.

Chinese-Style BBQ Pork
In Chinese cuisine, you’ll find this pink pork (also called char siu) used in stir fries, fried rice, noodle dishes, or served as is, sliced over a bowl of rice. This recipe still has that pink hue, but instead of relying on red food color #5, I used red beets, which add a natural color and an earthy undertone. This earthy flavor, along with a Stout-style beer, enhances the marinade’s roasty element.

Makes: 1 1/2 cups of marinade

1/2 cup Stout, oatmeal or imperial for more flavor
1/2 cup soy sauce, tamari or liquid aminos
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp barley miso
1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
1 tsp ginger, fresh, peeled and minced
1/4 red beet, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled

1–2 pork tenderloins, with silver skin removed

In a blender, add the Stout, soy sauce, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, barley miso, Chinese five spice powder, ginger, beet, and garlic. Seal with the lid and blend on high, combining the ingredients until smooth.

Pour the Stout marinade into a gallon-sized sealable bag and add pork tenderloin. Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible and seal it. Roll the bag to evenly coat the pork and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 48 hours.

Cooking Options
Grill: Fire up your gas or charcoal grill. Remove the pork from the Stout marinade and cook it over the fire, turning every 4 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 160°F. To increase the flavor, brush the remaining marinade over the cooking pork a few times.

Oven Roast: Preheat the oven to 450°F, using convection roast if available. Remove the pork from the Stout marinade and place on the rack of a roasting pan. Place the roasting pan into the center of the oven and roast until the internal temperature reaches 160°F, about 25 minutes.

Hot Mustard Sauce
Egg rolls need a condiment that can cut through the fried skin and rich filling. This hot mustard sauce is super easy to make and complements many Chinese dishes.

Makes: 1/4 cup

3 tbsp mustard powder, such as Colman’s English Mustard
3 tbsp beer, such as a Pale Ale or an IPA, with a citrus element

In a small bowl, measure out the mustard powder. Add the same amount of beer to the bowl and mix well. Let this mixture sit for at least 15 minutes to hydrate the mustard powder, while allowing the myrosinase enzyme to react with the water in the beer to create the distinctive sinus burning sensation. This mustard should be made to order, but it can be refrigerated for a week. (It will be less spicy the longer it sits.)