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A pork egg roll is a popular appetizer or light meal in Asian cuisine. It generally consists of a wrapper filled with precooked pork and vegetables, which are seasoned with spices and other flavorings. Once filled, the wrapper is deep fried and then served alone or with a dipping sauce.
Traditionally, a pork egg roll is prepared with a wrapper made from wheat flour and egg. Available in grocery stores around the world, these wrappers puff up slightly when fried, providing the crunchy, multi-layered casing that is expected of any type of egg roll. On occasion, rice paper wrappers, which are most popular when making spring rolls, may also be used. These are typically thinner, and are generally used to make a less-full pork egg roll, as they are not capable of holding as much filling as the traditional wrappers can.
Precooked pork, either ground or shredded, in addition to a variety of vegetables, make up the vast majority of the filling in a pork egg roll. Ground pork is generally browned first, although a larger roast can be slow-cooked and then shredded for use in pork egg rolls as well. Cabbage, julienned carrots, and minced onions are popular in addition to the pork, as are bell peppers.
These ingredients are typically mixed together and then seasoned with a variety of flavorings before everything is wrapped in the egg roll papers. Soy sauce and rice wine vinegar are almost always used, and a small amount of white or brown sugar may be added to balance out the saltiness of the soy sauce and the acidity of the rice wine vinegar. Ginger and garlic, either dry or fresh, are common as well. In addition, a small amount of flavorful liquid is usually used to wet down the filling slightly, helping it to hold together in the wrapper during the cooking process. Water, chicken broth, or a stock made from dried kelp, known as dashi, is usually added in very small amounts for this purpose.
For many people, the primary difference between a pork egg roll and other popular wrapped Asian dishes, such as spring rolls, is the fact that these are deep fried rather than served raw or steamed before being coupled with a dipping sauce. Once filled, the egg rolls are sealed with a small amount of beaten egg or water, and then fried until the wrapper is golden brown in color. The most common dipping sauce used for pork egg rolls is a sweet and sour sauce, sometimes referred to as duck sauce. A small amount of hot Chinese mustard or wasabi paste can be mixed with soy sauce and used as a spicier dipping sauce as well.