Leftovers can create an endless cycle. Yesterday’s dinner is boring now, so you cook up a new meal and—surprise!—end up with leftovers once again. Luckily, there’s a tool at your disposal that can refresh these culinary has-beens: egg roll wrappers. You can wrap any leftovers, sweet or savory, in these delicate squares of dough and create an exciting snack.
Everyone knows egg roll wrappers for the work they’ve done with cabbage, pork and shrimp. Although you might have only eaten egg rolls as the namesake appetizer from Chinese restaurants, the wrappers are readily available in most large grocery stores. You can find them in the refrigerated aisle often next to tofu, or check the freezer section if you can’t locate them by the tofu.
While there’s nothing wrong (and everything delicious) about the classic shredded cabbage filling, you don’t have to limit yourself. The shell is actually completely neutral in flavor—made of little else besides flour, starch, water, and a bit of salt—which makes it the perfect vehicle to pair with any filling. I was blessed with having leftover lasagna and buffalo chicken dip, but whether it’s yesterday’s pernil, frittata, or lamb curry, it’ll taste amazing wrapped up in a crispy egg roll shell.
How to wrap an egg roll
Two wrapped egg rolls with leftover lasagna filling, pre-fry. Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann
1. Place one square egg roll shell on a work surface. I like to line it up in front of me diagonally, so it’s a diamond. Make sure to keep the package closed so the rest of the wrappers don’t dry out.
Wet the edges with water and line up the filling diagonally from corner to corner. Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann
2. Using your fingertips or a pastry brush, wet the perimeter of the wrapper with water. This will activate the starch powder so it seals when you wrap it up. If you feel like your egg rolls always unwrap despite your best efforts, try using egg white instead. Put about three tablespoons of leftovers in the center, arranging it in a log from the top corner to the bottom corner. If you’re using a slice of something (say, lasagna), keep it about three inches long and an inch wide to make sure there’s enough wrapper available on all sides.
Fold the left corner over the filling snuggly. Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann
3. Fold the left corner tightly over the filling. Gently press the moistened edges down to help seal the fold.
Fold the top and bottom corners over the filling. Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann
Then fold the top and bottom corners over the filling. The folds in the picture above aren’t pressed, but I did after snapping the photo. Go ahead and push those down before the last step.
Roll the bulk of the egg roll over the rest of the remaining wrapper to finish the roll. Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann
Roll the bulk of the egg roll over and to the right to complete the closure. Repeat this with as many leftovers as you can egg roll.
How to fry egg rolls
To fry the egg rolls, heat an inch of cooking oil in a heavy bottomed pot to 190°C. Place a couple of egg rolls in the oil and fry for a minute or so. Flip the egg rolls to fry the other side and cook for another minute. Flip as needed to evenly cook the shell to a blistered golden brown. The filling is already cooked, so your only concern is cooking the shell and warming up the inside.
Dab the fried egg rolls on some paper towels, or use these other oil draining measures, and allow them to cool on a metal wire rack.
How to air fry egg rolls
I air fried my egg rolls because I wasn’t in the mood to clean up frying oil. These are filled with leftovers anyway, so I didn’t pain myself with traditional methods. Unlike some recipes that suffer from alternative cooking methods—like battered fish or churros—air frying these lovely morsels gets satisfyingly close to the fried version.
Pre-heat the air fryer to 190°C. Once you’ve filled and wrapped your egg rolls, use a pastry brush to brush a layer of neutral oil all over the outside of the rolls. Don’t forget the ends. This oil layer is incredibly important to the final texture, so please don’t let some bizarre calorie-saving voice in your head get the better of you. The oil conducts the air fryer’s heat more efficiently while preventing it from drying out, allowing the egg roll skin to bubble up and crisp in a similar way to the classic fried version. If you leave off the oil you’ll end up with dry, pasty shells and regret.
Put the egg rolls in the air fryer basket, seam-point down, leaving about two inches of space between each roll. Air fry them for 12 to 15 minutes, flipping them halfway through their cooking time. The shell should bubble and brown, and if you wrapped them securely, none of the filling should leak out. Cool the egg rolls for a few minutes before serving, and celebrate your leftovers finally living their best life.
The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans
Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.