Egg Rolls!

*Or, “The most ridiculously elaborate use we could think of for green cabbage”

I should specify that the elaborateness isn’t actually cabbage-related. The cabbage part is really pretty simple both in terms of prep and the role it plays. It is blanched and it provides the internal crunch. It is the supporting players in an egg roll that make the magic. But before we get to said magic let’s back up and consider the egg roll for a moment. I think we all know, or at least suspect, that egg rolls are merely Chinese-esque, or possibly Chinese-ish, at best. Chinese-inspired, if you will. Go looking for an egg roll in Beijing and tell me how it goes. If anything, you are apparently more likely to find something that resembles a spring roll.

A little research shows that egg rolls in recognizable form showed up American cities in the late 1930s when Chinese-American restaurateurs were developing menus that felt Chinese, but that Americans would find palatable. Those egg rolls included roast pork, shrimp, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, green onions and some seasonings. No cabbage. Today, you are more likely to find egg rolls with lots of cabbage, a little pork, some carrot, and maybe even mushroom if the chef is feeling frisky. I don’t eat them that often, because though the ingredients are pretty consistent in just about every restaurant and freezer case in America, the quality ranges from the sublime to the absolute suck. I’ve had enough of the latter over the years to make me favor other appetizers and sides, so I had forgotten that they include cabbage at all. And I am looking for uses for cabbage. Continue reading

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