When I was at boarding school, there was an awesomely terrible Chinese delivery spot in town called China Star. I’m pretty sure 99% of their business came from Taft students, and since I crushed 2-3 white carton meals a week my sophomore year, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that I may have been one of their top customers. At the time, I was quite proud of this fact.
In my defense, my Chinese food fetish was largely a result of limited dining options. I could either eat three meals a day in the dining hall, or I could order from the few local restaurants that delivered to campus. The dining hall wasn’t terrible per say, but I was a relatively picky eater, and there were only so many bowls of cereal and plain penne with Parmesan that my teenage palate could handle. I needed pizza, Thanksgiving paninis, and large quantities of MSG to survive/fill out my sexy low-rise corduroys. JV Volleyball and winter Jazzercise burned a ton of cals!
When it came to my China Star order, I went ham, especially when I was going splitsies with my roommate. (Hi, Fif!) Chicken and broccoli and/or sesame chicken was a given, plus the occasional carton of Lo Mein, and a casual side of egg rolls. Dear God, I loved those egg rolls. Crispy, crunchy nuggets with a magical mystery filling that my 15-year-old self never gave much thought to. (Which was probably for the best.)
Needless to say, I was quite distressed when China Star delivery was unceremoniously banned by Taft’s administration my junior year (for alleged reckless driving on school property/shoving menus under every student’s door multiple times a night), but the forced delivery hiatus turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It was only when I eliminated tri-weekly Chinese dinners that I realized how shitty they’d made me feel, and after just a few weeks sans the Star, I noticed that my flared jeans were (slightly) less snug, and I didn’t need to spend half an hour rolling around on the floor “to digest” before I could comfortably tackle my homework. Hallelujah!
Sidenote: Writing this post has made me realize that I was essentially Logan as a teenager…
Anyhoo, as I’ve gotten older and super wise to the crap that’s in the aforementioned “mystery filling,” I pretty much avoid egg rolls like the plague. But that’s not to say I don’t miss them. In fact, every time I see egg rolls on a menu or watch my roommate eat them, my mouth waters a little bit. (And I hear Counting Crows music in the background. Ahhhh 2003.) So, you can imagine how pumped I was when I saw a recipe for Egg Roll Bowls in my friend Gina’s glorious new book Skinnytaste Fast and Slow...
Before we get into the delicious details of these bowls, I just want to go on record with the following: Gina is a genius. Another friend once called her “the Ina of the blog world,” and I wholeheartedly agree. All of her creative and impeccably tested recipes are foolproof, and better still, they’re accessible and healthy. Her latest book is a mix of quickie feasts (i.e. recipes ready in less than 30 minutes) and slow-cooker favorites—Fast and Slow, get it?—and each beautifully photographed meal is more drool-worthy than the last. Plus, the book has some newfangled spine/binding that allows its pages to lie completely flat no matter where you open it. MAGIC. Please get yourself a copy, stat.
Moving on to bowl specifics! These savory, umami-flavored bowls literally taste like inside of an egg roll, and I could not be more thrilled to have them in my regular rotation. The best part? Thanks to their veggie-heavy ingredient list, they’re practically bursting with health benefits. Cabbage in particular is loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, and it’s great for digestion, and this recipe is a delicious way take down a solid serving of the cruciferous wonder. Virtual chest bump.
Gina uses ground pork in her bowls, but I subbed ground chicken to keep things super light, which was delightful. (You could easily use 93% lean ground turkey as well.) I also doubled down on the ginger for extra kick and added a sprinkling of chopped peanuts for crunch, but you should obviously do you when it comes to preparing your bowls. This one skillet recipe comes together in about 20 minutes, so it’s a killer option for busy weeknights, and since leftovers keep extremely well, sassy desk lunch leftovers are something to be psyched about.
Get on it, friends.
p.s. This recipe is Dude Diet-friendly, paleo, and gluten-free if you use tamari instead of soy sauce. Whooop.
Egg Roll Bowls: (Serves 2)
7 ounces ground pork (Feel free to sub ground chicken like I did or 93% lean ground turkey.)
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
½ small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
½-1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (depending on your ginger love)
2½ cups finely sliced napa or green cabbage
2 cups finely sliced baby bok choy
½ cup shredded carrots
2½ ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1-2 medium scallions, sliced, for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts (optional)
Preparing your Egg Roll Bowls:
-Set a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the pork and 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and cook, using a wooden spoon to break the meat into small pieces as it browns, about 3 minutes.
-Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook stirring, until the vegetables are soft, 2 to 3 minutes.
-Add the cabbage, bok choy, carrots, and mushrooms. Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, the rice wine, and sesame oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage and bok choy are wilted but still crunchy, 3 to 4 minutes.
-Serve hot, garnished with scallions and chopped peanuts (if using).
- 7 ounces ground pork (Feel free to sub ground chicken like I did or 93% lean ground turkey.)
- 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- ½ small onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½-1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (depending on your ginger love)
- 2½ cups finely sliced napa or green cabbage
- 2 cups finely sliced baby bok choy
- ½ cup shredded carrots
- 2½ ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1-2 medium scallions, sliced, for garnish
- 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts (optional)
- Set a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the pork and 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and cook, using a wooden spoon to break the meat into small pieces as it browns, about 3 minutes.
- Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook stirring, until the vegetables are soft, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the cabbage, bok choy, carrots, and mushrooms. Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, the rice wine, and sesame oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage and bok choy are wilted but still crunchy, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with scallions and peanuts (if using).