When I was a kid, my parents owned a stained, dog-eared cookbook called Chinese Meatless Cooking. The Baked Tofu Egg Rolls were one of my favorite recipes from the book -- chewy and hearty and entirely unlike any other egg rolls I'd ever eaten. I've fiddled with the recipe over the years, adjusting ingredients and proportions to tailor it to my tastes. And though the word "baked" in the title refers to the type of tofu used, I also now bake the egg rolls instead of frying them, which makes the whole process way easier. —ieatthepeach
Test Kitchen Notes
Takeout egg rolls are a guilty pleasure of mine, one of those things I’ve thought about making at home but assumed would be way too difficult. One look at this recipe and I wondered what took me so long. While I'm a huge fan of fried foods, I’m not as fond of frying them myself. Baking the rolls eliminates the mess (and fear) of frying. The result is a chewy yet crunchy roll that, while not exactly like the takeout version, is a satisfying and hearty substitute, especially dipped in sweet and sour sauce from leftover packets in my kitchen drawer. —bsessler
about 30 rolls
dried shiitake mushrooms
Boiling water for soaking the mushrooms
(6-oz) package baked (pressed) tofu, shredded or julienned
celery stalks, shredded or finely diced
medium carrot, shredded
8-ounce can bamboo shoots, drained and thinly sliced
scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
Place mushrooms in a small heatproof bowl. Pour over enough boiling water to cover, and let soak for 15 to 30 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the water and squeeze dry, then thinly slice. Reserve 1/2 cup of the mushroom soaking liquid.
Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. When you start to see wisps of smoke, add the tofu, celery, carrots, bamboo shoots, scallions, and a pinch of salt. Stir-fry for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the mixture is fragrant and the vegetables are beginning to soften. Add the mushrooms, reserved mushroom soaking liquid, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, salt, and chili flakes, and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, or just until the liquid is bubbling. Whisk together the cornstarch and water to form a slurry, then stir the slurry into the filling mixture. Cook for another 30 seconds to a minute, or just until the sauce thickens and there is no more liquid bubbling in the pan. Remove the filling from the heat and let cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 400º F, and lightly grease a baking sheet. Remove the wrappers from their packaging and place under a clean kitchen towel. Drain off any excess liquid from the cooled filling. Working one at a time, remove a wrapper from under the towel, place about 2 tablespoons of filling in the middle, and roll the wrapper around the filling, folding in the sides as you go. Use your finger to dab a little bit of water on the pointed end of the wrapper before you finish rolling, to seal the egg roll closed. As you finish rolling the egg rolls, place them under plastic wrap or another clean kitchen towel to keep them from drying out.
Lay the egg rolls on the baking sheet, seam-side down, and brush the tops with peanut oil. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until starting to brown on top; flip the rolls over, brush the other side of each roll with peanut oil, and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden and crisp on both sides. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.
You can freeze the cooked, cooled egg rolls for up to a month. Just lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the freezer until frozen solid, then transfer to a zip-top bag. Reheat the frozen egg rolls in a 350º F oven.