When I first turned 20, I had a quarter life crisis and decided to go keto. One of the most intriguing recipes I saw was for an egg roll in a bowl from The Girl Who Ate Everything. I decided to take the concept and turn it into a hybrid egg roll bowl recipe that combines the best parts of 4 or 5 dishes for the ultimate egg roll experience without a deep fryer.
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Inspiration for Egg Roll Bowl
Like I said before, the initial inspiration came from the blog "The Girl Who Ate Everything". With that inspiration in mind, I combined my love of carbs to introduce the marriage of egg roll in a bowl with rice and fried tortillas. This created a trendy Power Bowl type idea. The first attempt, I used only sriracha as a sauce. My boyfriend loved it, but sriracha goes on everything he eats. It needed something more.
I also didn't like how it presented. I knew that the recipe and the photo could be better. I started thinking about my favourite ways to eat egg rolls and I immediately thought about my time as a server at a local Vietnamese restaurant called Number One Noodle.
Before working there, I'd never knowingly eaten fish sauce. Their fried spring rolls were served with a clear-yellow sauce that was absolutely to die for. I later found out this sauce is called nuoc cham, and is a sauce mostly flavoured by fish sauce. Now that I have a filipino partner and mother-in-law, I know that fish sauce is the East Asian flavour equivalent of Worcestershire sauce. It's in everything.
Number One Noodle also has these "salad" dishes that are comprised of cold noodles, carrots and lettuce with a hot protein, and again, this same fish sauce condiment as a dressing.
I knew that nuoc cham would be the perfect addition to a bowl style dinner. Combining a deconstructed egg roll with the flavour profile of Vietnamese fried spring rolls would be a winner.
Nuoc cham is made by combining warm water with lime juice, sugar, rice vinegar and fish sauce. It's incredibly simple and produces an incredibly complex tasting vinaigrette type sauce without oil. The photo above is just the water and dissolved sugar - the completed sauce takes on a light brown-yellowy colour.
The recipe I use is the base recipe from Andrea Nyugen's Vietnamese Food Any Day. I wholeheartedly trust this cookbook, and when I made lumpia (Filipino spring rolls) with my mother in law, I made this sauce to go with it and they were absolutely to die for.
What's in this Egg Roll Bowl?
The Egg Roll Bowl is a rice based bowl meal that's loaded with fresh veggies (cabbage, carrots, celery) and served with nuoc cham and fried tortillas.
For nuoc cham, you need:
- Rice Vinegar
- Lime Juice (fresh)
- Fish Sauce
Trust me, I know that a vinaigrette with fish sauce doesn't sound appealing. If you're white and haven't tried many "foreign" dishes, I know that this doesn't sound appealing. Trust me when I say it's the only way I truly enjoy egg rolls now. Don't knock it until you try it.
The rest of the ingredients (other than cooked rice and tortillas) are fairly common, and at least at our household, are pantry staples.
- Ground Beef (or Pork)
- Chicken Broth
- Soy Sauce
- Ground Ginger (dried, not fresh)
And optionally, but highly recommended:
- Sesame Seeds
- Green Onions
- Bean Sprouts
How to Make an Egg Roll Bowl?
All you need to do is combine all the prepared elements into a bowl. Layer rice, meat/veggie mix and toppings. Pour a bit of nuoc cham over it and serve with fried tortillas.
The fried tortillas are optional (and you can make them in the toaster if you're lazy) but they're nostalgic of fried egg rolls without the mess or calories. The toaster option is okay as in "good enough" but the few seconds and one extra dish it takes to pan fry them in a drop of oil is more than worth it.
Vietnamese Egg Roll Bowl with Nuoc Cham
- ½ cup warm water
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 3 tbsp lime juice freshly squeezed
- 2 tsp rice vinegar
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
Egg Roll Bowl
- 1 lb ground beef lean
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ head medium cabbage finely sliced
- 2 carrots grated
- 2 stalks celery diced
- ¼ cup chicken broth no salt added
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp sriracha
- ½ tsp sugar
- 2 eggs large
- pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 3 tortillas sliced into sixths (triangle shape)
- ½ tsp olive oil for frying
- pinch of salt
Per Serving Amounts
- ½ cup cooked jasmine rice
- ½ fried tortilla 3 triangles
- 1 tsp nuoc cham
- green onions for garnish
- sesame seeds for garnish
- Before starting any cooking, prep all the vegetables so they're ready to go when needed. Do all the dicing, grating and chopping and then set aside.
- Place 2 cups of dry rice in a rice cooker and cook to package instructions. I like jasmine rice for this recipe - for which I would use 2 cups of dry rice (rinsed), mixed with 2.25 cups of water and 1 tbsp of coconut oil. Allow to cook while you work and leave set aside.
- Make the nuoc cham - combine the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. Mix in the other ingredients. The ratios of rice vinegar, lime juice and fish sauce are to my liking - you may have to taste and adjust based on yours. Set aside.
- For the tortillas, cut each tortilla into 6 equal triangles. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat with ½ - 1 tsp of olive oil or ghee. Allow to heat up and fry the tortillas until blistered and slightly crunchy. Set aside.
Egg Roll Bowl Cooking
- Heat a stainless steel pan or if preferred, a large non-stick pan, over medium high heat. Brown the meat (either pork or beef) until cooked through. Add in the garlic and saute until slightly fragrant. Add in the carrots and celery and cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Add in the cabbage and chicken broth to the pan and cook down until it has reached the desired texture. Unless you have a very large pan, you may need to add a few handfuls at a time until the cabbage cooks down enough that the pan isn't overflowing.
- When the cabbage is almost cooked to your liking, add in the soy sauce, ginger and sriracha. Stir to combine.
- Whisk the eggs together in a bowl. Make a hole in the middle of the pan and place the eggs in, making sure to stir them gradually into the meat and veggie mixture to ensure they don't scramble and to make sure they mix well.
- Finish off with sesame oil to taste and mix well.
- Place ½ cup of rice in the bottom of a bowl. Add in ¾ - 1 cup of meat and vegetable mixture. Top the bowl with sesame seeds and green onions if desired. Serve with about 1 tsp of nuoc cham on the side and add it to the bowl as desired.
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