Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Comfort Food

Everybody has their favourite comfort food - something they crave on a cold depressing day. For a lot of people it's something wholesome like homemade chicken soup, or a hot casserole.
Now, it's no secret that I've always been a little strange when it comes to food (as a child I prefered liver and broccoli to spaghetti - still do - I don't like the taste of purple, can't eat kraft dinner without a can of salmon on the side, etc.) so for me my crappy day food is egg rolls.
But they are not your typical Chinese restaurant eggrolls (though I do love those too) it's the egg rolls my Papa used to make when we were kids. He would make an enormous batch of them and throw them in the freezer. When we'd come up to visit for a couple of weeks in the summer and sometimes over the winter holidays, he'd pull some out, heat them up and we'd eat them as a snack while watching movies or playing video games. Sometimes we'd just eat them cold.
A few years ago, I wrangled the recipe out of him - though he admitted he never made them the same way twice, so it wasn't so much of a recipe as a list of possible ingredients. After a few attempts, Mom and I managed to pin down the perfect recipe (though it's one where none of the ingredients are measured) and we make them every now and again. We've changed a few things (Papa used beef, where we prefer pork or chicken) and they are a lot of work, so we don't make them that often- which makes it even more of a treat when we do!
Well, the last couple of weeks have been kind of depressing and stressful, so today on the way home, I stopped at the grocery store and picked up the ingredients. This isn't all the ingredients, I've left out the secret spices and seasonings. (It is a secret family recipe after all) though I will mention that having the proper oil is essential for ethnic cooking.. I LOVE my sesame oil!
Now mom prefers to throw the filling in the food processor to speed things up but I - what can I say? I like to wield sharp knives - and prefer to chop by hand. I'm not a huge fan of cooking but the dishes I like to make best usually involve a lot of chopping.
The one thing this recipe does require is A LOT of bean sprouts. That's about 3 lbs of beansprouts to be exact (though it is a double batch). It's a good thing they shrink when they cook, but I still needed two frying pans to make it all. (I should really invest in a wok)

And of course I had help...Peno is a little more dignified and sat patiently waiting for her share of raw chicken... though she never blinks when she's waiting... it's creepy.... Once everything is all fried up, I drain it well (because water and oil don't mix and I have the burn scars to prove it) and pop it in the fridge to cool, clean up and relax for an hour or two. Then comes the hard work. Rolling it all. I don't roll them like you see in the Chinese restaurants. I do an envelope roll, and pop them in the hot grease. (Don't try this at home kids - I am a highly untrained professional) After a year of working at New York Fries, I learned how to handle pots of near boiling vegetable oil (and believe it or not gravy burns worse than oil) but this is still pretty dangerous. It scares the crap out of Dave, but I really just can't be bothered to invest in a deep frier (I cook my frenchfries this way too) Besides, it feels like I have more control this way. And I like to be in control. You can only fry a few at a time, so it takes a while.But it's worth it because the end result is a heaping plate of tasty egg rolls! (Of course half of these are going up to Mom ... as much as I'd like to eat them all ... that would be a bad thing) YUM!


Angelika said...

Oh my god, you are so bad. I think I have to go to the store now and get me some ingredients to make lumpia. My family loves those and I do the same thing. Make a huge batch, freeze them and then pull them out an fry them up as needed. Next time you have a egg roll party, I wish I could come to help.

Rhonda said...

OMG! I want them NOW!!!! I'm walking away.

sue said...

I like the look of those egg rolls even though I have never tried them. Bean sprouts are one of my fave foods and I prefer them a bit crunchy especially in fried rice.

Jeanne said...

Wow - those look so good!

LeenieBeenie said...

I think that is looks delicious, and I think that it is great that your comfort food is unique.

Alisha said...

I have thought about egg rolls for the last 48 hours since I read this post!

I want all those!