Oct 04, 2023


Food & Drink

Southern and Chinese comfort fare cozy up

Recipe by Natalie Keng

June 7, 2023

photo: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

People are quirky and food trends even quirkier. Depending on where you sit or who you are, some ingredients are compost one day and gourmet the next. I love collard greens any which way, and the traditional way is to stew down a large pot of greens with ham hocks for hours until the tough greens are tender. A faster way to eat them is to chop or slice them into smaller pieces and sauté them with seasonings. My handy cleaver knife makes the task easier and allows me to enjoy this low-cost vegetable in creative, delicious ways. This recipe is a twist—or roll—on the classic pairing of pork and collards. Now that's a trend worth keeping. —Natalie Keng, from her new cookbook, Egg Rolls & Sweet Tea: Asian Inspired, Southern Style

See also: G&G‘s interview with Natalie Keng, plus her recipes for Bourbon & Coca-Cola Meatloaf and Okra and Tomato Stir-Fry.

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3 small bundles (about 3 oz.) of dried mung bean (glass) or cellophane noodles

3 slices applewood smoked bacon, diced

¼ cup thinly sliced green onions

¼ cup finely diced red bell pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

1½ cups grated carrot (about 1 large carrot)

½ cup thinly sliced cabbage

1½ cups finely chopped or thinly sliced collard greens

1 tsp. sea salt

12 (7-inch square) egg roll wrappers

1 large egg, beaten (or 1 tbsp. flour plus 2 tsp. water combined for a slurry paste)

1 to 2 tbsp. canola oil

4 tbsp. natural Georgia Grinders Creamy Peanut Butter or peanut butter of choice

2 tsp. roasted sesame oil

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp. mirin

2 tsp. honey

2 tsp. naturally brewed light soy sauce

½ tsp. balsamic vinegar

½ tsp. apple cider vinegar

Make the egg rolls: Soak the noodles in a bowl of hot water for about 15 minutes,then drain. (Save the liquid to enjoy as soup broth.) With a large knife, slice through the stack of noodles 3 to 5 times (to prevent tangling) and set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, cook the bacon 3 to 4 minutes, just until some of the fat has rendered but it is still soft. Add the green onions, bell pepper, and garlic and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the carrot, cabbage, and collards and sauté for about 2 minutes, until soft. Then add the noodles, making sure excess liquid has been drained. (Save the liquid to enjoy as soup broth.) Add the salt and sauté for about 3 minutes.

Immediately transfer the mixture to a large shallow dish to cool completely. (Don't skip this step—a warm filling will cause steam, resulting in soggy spring rolls.)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

To assemble the egg rolls, remove 1 egg roll wrapper from the stack at a time, keeping the remaining stack covered with a clean, damp towel to prevent drying.

Lay the wrapper on a diagonal (diamond) with a corner closest to you. Near that closest corner, spoon ¼ cup of the cooled filling mixture. Roll the corner up and over the filling snugly, then fold in the left and right sides toward the center to close the ends of the roll. Continue rolling the wrapper away from you. Using a finger, dab the egg or flour slurry as a "glue" to securely seal (like an envelope flap) all the edges. Set the completed roll aside, seam-side down, and repeat the process until all of the egg rolls are assembled.

Evenly place the spring rolls, seam-side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, gently brush each roll on all sides with a light coat of oil. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, stopping to turn the rolls every 5 minutes for an even golden color. Transfer to a serving platter and enjoy with your choice of dipping sauce.

Make the sesame dip: In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, sesame oil, olive oil, mirin, honey, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and apple cider vinegar, then stir vigorously with a fork until smooth and blended. To make the spread thinner, add more olive or vegetable oil. To thicken, add more peanut butter. Do not add water because the peanut butter mixture will not emulsify properly.

Reprinted from Egg Rolls & Sweet Tea: Asian Inspired, Southern Style, copyright © 2023 by Natalie Keng. Published by Gibbs Smith.


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