Now that flavored popcorn is 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 won ton 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, Md., couple a few years ago and has been served in the District of Columbia's school lunch program.
Every culture has its filled-dough food: India has samosas and pakoras, Mexico has burritos, Jews have blintzes, Greeks have filo , the French have crepes, the English have pasties.
Available in Supermarket
Why not experiment with the fillings in egg roll wrappers, now readily available in supermarket produce cases?
For a Mexican egg roll, saute some ground beef and add chopped jalapeno chiles. Drain the fat, then mix the meat with grated Cheddar or Jack cheese. Roll into an egg roll wrapper with chopped lettuce and tomatoes, then deep-fry. Serve with sliced oranges sprinkled with cinnamon.
Stuff an Italian egg roll with ricotta cheese spiked with nutmeg, sauteed spinach and chopped walnuts. Serve the deep-fried rolls with a chunky tomato sauce made by sauteing fresh chopped tomatoes and basil in olive oil.
Chopped ham, shredded Swiss cheese, mushrooms and bean sprouts can occupy the all-American roll. For a blintz version, stuff cottage and farmer cheeses, eggs and cinnamon into an egg roll and top with fresh fruit or a fresh peach sauce.
This egg roll is really an adaptation of Indian samosas, those triangular-shaped pies filled with ground lamb or peas and potatoes.
EGG ROLL SAMOSAS
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon grated ginger root
3 small new potatoes, cooked, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup cooked peas
6 to 8 egg roll wrappers
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet. Add onion and saute until tender. Stir in cumin, turmeric and ginger, then add potatoes and peas. Stir to coat vegetables with spices.
Place 1 egg roll wrapper on clean, dry surface with point facing you. Place 1/6 or 1/8 of filling in center of each wrapper. Fold bottom point over filling. Fold in sides, then roll up jelly-roll fashion. Seal edges with water. Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers.
Heat 3 inches oil in heavy skillet to 350 degrees on deep-frying thermometer.
Add rolls in single layer and cook about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, just until browned. Turn and repeat on other side. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve with yogurt. Makes 6 to 8 egg rolls.