Happy Hmong American Day in Minnesota! As a first Hmong-American generation born and raised in St Paul, Minnesota – I am very proud of the values and the sense of community the Hmong community has provided in the Twin Cities.
Who are Hmong People?
Hmong (also pronounced as Hmoob) is an ethnic and mountain tribal nomadic group of people who originated from Southeast Asia – most commonly from Laos, then Thailand, Vietnam, and other parts of Asia. Hmong people were recruited by the CIA as allies during the Vietnam War, which was a war known on its own as The Secret War. As the war ended, the Hmong people sought refuge in Thailand and over the span of 30 years gradually sought legal residency in the United States.
According to CBS Minnesota, there are over 80,000 of the Hmong population alone in Minnesota. The Hmong community has multiple thriven flee markets and small businesses in the greater Twin Cities.
My Story About Egg Rolls
My extended family loved to gather and we loved to eat. We were always gathering at my late maternal grandmother’s house cooking, eating, and just hanging out. Of course, it was mainly the girls in the family that were cooking. I especially loved hanging out with my mom and aunties just peering over their shoulders and watching them make food. When I turned of a certain age my mother would have me start helping around the kitchen by prepping with washing and cutting vegetables and meats. Then later on I graduated to cooking and making dishes.
One of the dishes that I had fond memories of making were egg rolls. Cooking egg rolls in my family’s household was operated as a team. One would be peeling the wraps, the other would be boiling the noodles, the other would be cutting the veggies, the other would be mixing the filling, and everyone was wrapping. And many times this was all happening simultaneously because just cooking egg rolls by yourself takes a long time. So if you’re attempting to cook egg rolls by yourself, just allow enough time. Trust me.
I’ll remember the day when I perfectly wrapped my first egg roll, I was so proud of myself. Everyone knows, wrapping egg rolls is the hardest at first, but keep practicing and keep trying and you’ll perfect your wrapping skills.
In honor of Hmong American Day, I’m sharing a taste from my childhood. This recipe calls for fresh ingredients and to be eaten right away when it’s freshly cooked because it won’t stand a chance to be reheated or refried or re-anything. This is my go to recipe for every time I’m making egg rolls and I hope you enjoy it.
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Serving Size: 10-13 people | Preparation Time: 35 – 45 minutes | Cook Time: 45 minutes – 1 hour
- Black Pepper, 2 tsp
- Carrot (fresh), 1, shredded
- Cilantro (fresh), ½ cup chopped
- Egg (Whole), 2
- Spring Home Spring Roll Pastry Wraps (thawed), 50 wrap
- Garlic (fresh), 5 cloves, minced
- Green Onion (fresh), ½ cup chopped
- Ground Pork (thawed/fresh), 2-3 lbs.
- Onion (fresh), ½
- Oyster Sauce, ¾ cup
- Salt, 2 tsp
- Vegetable Oil
- Lungkow Vermicelli Bean Thread Noodles (dried), 10 oz.
- Water, 4-8 cups
- Cast Iron Frying Pan or any other frying pan
- Cleaver Knife
- Half Baking Sheet
- Heat Resisted Strainer
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Large Spoon
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Paper Towels
- Small Side Dish Bowl
- Square Plates or other plates
- Wood Cutting Board
Preparation (the Filling)
- Chop cilantro and green onion, minced garlic, and diced onion and set aside on a baking sheet.
- Grate carrots and set aside on the baking sheet.
- Peel wraps to individual sheets.
- Boil water, which will take 7-10 minutes.
- Once boiling, place the Vermicelli Bean Thread Noodles in the boiling water and stir occasionally until cooked, which will take about 2- 3 minutes.
- Once the noodles are softened, place strainer in the sink and pour the large pot in the strainer to drain the noodles.
- Rinse the noodles in the strainer with cold water and use tongs to move the noodles around to distribute cold water to prevent the noodles from cooking further.
- Once the noodles have been cooled, use a pair of shears to cut the noodles into shorter strands.
- Leave the noodles to drain thoroughly in the strainer.
- While the noodles are draining, place the ground pork in a large mixing bowl.
- Add all of the fresh vegetable ingredients (cilantro, green onion, garlic, onion, carrots) into the large mixing bowl.
- Then add salt, black pepper, oyster sauce, and the drained Vermicelli Bean Thread Noodles,
- Separate 1 whole egg with an egg yolk in a small side dish bowl (which will be used later on for sealing of the egg roll wrap) and the egg white in the large mixing bowl. Then add 1 whole egg in the large mixing bowl.
- Mix all of the ingredients in the large mixing bowl with hands and mix thoroughly. Now you have the filling of the egg roll.
- Grab a sheet of the wrap and lay it on a flat on plate with the bottom corner facing toward you.
- Then grab a spoonful of the egg roll filling and place it about 2 inches above the bottom corner of the wrap.
- Shape the egg roll filling in a horizontal row.
- Pull the bottom corner of the wrap up over the filling and do half a roll just enough to secure the filling.
- Then grab the side corners of the wrap towards the center and then continue to roll from the bottom up.
- Once near the top corner, dip finger in the egg yolk that was set aside and then smear the egg yolk on the top corner of the wrapper.
- Continue to roll to create a seal of the wrap and set aside on a large platter.
- Repeat to make 39-40 rolls.
- Pour vegetable oil in a deep-frying pan on medium to high heat on the stovetop. Allow at least 1 to 2 inches of oil depth in the deep-frying pan. Also as a safety precaution, allow enough room for the top of the frying pan to rise for the difference in liquid volume when cooking the egg rolls.
- While waiting for the oil to get hot, grab a large baking sheet and a cooling rack to prepare for setting cooked egg rolls on.
- Once the oil is hot. Place 4-6 egg rolls in the deep-frying pan. (Tip: Don’t place too many egg rolls in a frying pan, this will change the temperature of the oil and may take longer to cook, and also soften the exterior texture of the egg roll wrap.)
- Allow for the egg rolls to float then flip with using a tong. (Tip: Flipping the egg rolls too often and too soon will deteriorate the egg roll wrap).
- When the egg rolls are a golden-brown color, use the tong to grab the egg rolls and place on a cooling rack
Repeat until all of the egg rolls are cooked. Place cooled egg rolls on a serving platter and serve with Thai Pepper Cilantro Sauce (more to come).
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