Now that flavored popcorn is, thankfully, over the hill, and croissants have been filled with everything short of the Eiffel Tower, it's time to infiltrate the egg roll.
After all, if wonton wrappers can be stuffed with goat and St. Andre' cheeses and served as ravioli, then egg rolls can broaden their ethnic affiliation. In fact, the precedent has already been set; the Soul Roll, a soul food version of the Chinese staple, was invented in the kitchen of a Wheaton couple a few years ago and has been served in the District's school lunch program.
This Express Lane diversifies the concept a little more. Every culture has its filled-dough food; India has samosas and pakoras, Mexico has its burritos, Jews have blintzes, Greeks have phyllo, the French have crepes, the English have pasties. Why not experiment with the fillings in egg roll wrappers, now readily available in supermarket produce cases?
For a Mexican Express Lane egg roll, saute' some ground beef and add chopped jalapen os. Drain the fat, and mix the meat with grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheeses. Roll into an egg roll wrapper with chopped lettuce and tomatoes, and deep-fry. Serve with sliced oranges sprinkled with cinnamon.
Stuff an Italian Express Lane egg roll with ricotta cheese spiked with nutmeg, saute'ed spinach and chopped walnuts. Serve the deep-fried rolls with a chunky tomato sauce made by simply saute'ing fresh chopped tomatoes and basil in olive oil.
Chopped ham, grated gruye re cheese, mushrooms and bean sprouts can occupy the All-American roll; for a blintz version, stuff cottage and/or farmer cheeses, eggs and cinnamon into an egg roll and top with fresh fruit or a fresh peach sauce.
This Express Lane egg roll is really an adaptation of Indian samosas, those triangular-shaped pies filled with ground lamb or peas and potatoes. All you'll need is oil on your shelf before making your cross-cultural purchases at the store.
EXPRESS LANE LIST: egg roll wrappers, onion, potatoes, peas, cumin, turmeric, ginger, yogurt. EGG ROLL SAMOSAS (Makes 6 to 8 egg rolls)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil plus extra for frying
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, or more to taste
3 small new potatoes, cooked, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup cooked green peas
6 to 8 egg roll wrappers
Yogurt for serving
In a large skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the onion and saute' until soft. Stir in the cumin, turmeric and ginger, then add cubed potatoes and peas. Stir to coat vegetables with spices.
Take one egg roll wrapper and place on counter with point facing you. Place one-sixth or one-eighth of the filling in the center of one wrapper. Fold bottom point up over filling. Fold in sides, then roll up jelly-roll fashion. Seal the edges with water. Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers, using up all the ingredients.
Heat 3 inches of oil in a heavy pot. Cut a small square of bread to test for readiness. The oil should bubble quickly over it and turn it toasty brown, but it should not be so hot that the bread turns black or chars. (Oil should be 350 degrees on a deep-frying thermometer.)
Add rolls in a single layer. Cook about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on one side (just until browned). Flip and repeat on other side. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat, cooking all the rolls. Serve with yogurt.