Putting pastrami in egg rolls may not make for authentic Asian cuisine, but it sure tastes good. As does the sauce. Trust me, once you taste this, you will never go back to dipping in plain old duck sauce.

Egg rolls are not the simplest thing to throw together. There are quite a few ingredients and steps, but none of it is difficult, just a little messy and possibly time-consuming.

You’ll need to make some decisions before you start:

  • Do you want to use cellophane noodles? I’ve done it both ways. (In the pictures you don’t see the noodles, because I left them in the bowl on the side and forgot to add them to the filling. When I remembered, I added it to the rest, but it’s not visible here.) It can, though, be difficult to find certified kosher cellophane noodles, depending on where you live, or you may not be familiar with them. They do add texture, but you can leave them out and double the amount of cabbage mix you use, if you prefer.
  • Do you want to bake or fry? They do come out differently, but both taste good. It’s mainly a difference of texture. The fried ones get that soft but crispy texture, where the wrapper bubbles up. The baked ones do not bubble, and often end up with crunchy ends and soft sides.

Some other changes you can make:

  • Don’t have access to pastrami? You can use ground beef instead. After you fry the onion, add in the ground beef and brown it. Then add the cabbage mix and continue.
  • Don’t have access to coleslaw mix? It is simply a combination of shredded carrot and cabbage which you can easily make yourself.

Egg Roll Ingredients

  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 3–4 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ lb. thinly sliced pastrami
  • ½ lb. coleslaw mix (shredded white cabbage and carrot)
  • Optional: 3 oz. cellophane/glass noodles (note: if you’re not using the noodles, double the amount of coleslaw mix)
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. ginger powder
  • 12–16 egg roll wrappers
  • Oil for frying

Egg Roll Directions

  1. Place the glass noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit until limp.
  2. Sauté the diced onion in the olive oil and salt until translucent.
  3. Add the pastrami, cabbage and cellophane/glass noodles, and cook until the cabbage is just starting to wilt. (Note: If you’re not using cellophane noodles, use double the amount of cabbage instead.)
  4. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and cook over a low flame for 4–5 minutes, until the cabbage is soft (but not soggy) and the flavors have melded. Place the mixture in a bowl and set aside.
  5. Lay out the egg roll wrappers and place 2–3 tablespoons of mixture on each one. Roll according to the diagram above. Seal by dipping your fingertips in cold water and gently smoothing over the edge.
  6. Decide if you want to fry or bake the egg rolls. To fry, fill a frying pan with an inch or so of oil. Bring to medium-high heat, and gently drop in a few egg rolls, seam side down. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for 2–3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Repeat until all egg rolls are fried.
  7. To bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the egg rolls seam-side down on the parchment paper. Brush each one with oil (or spray with Pam), and bake at 425° F for 20 minutes.

Sauce Ingredients

  • ½ cup apricot preserves
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • ⅛ tsp. ginger powder
  • ⅛ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ cup water

Sauce Directions

  1. Cook all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  2. Simmer over a very low flame for 10–15 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Make sure to stir frequently so the sauce doesn’t burn.
  3. When it’s ready, take the sauce off the fire and pour it through a fine mesh strainer.
  4. Serve alongside the egg rolls for dipping. The sauce can be refrigerated; just warm it up again before serving.

Yields: 12–16 egg rolls (and enough sauce for them). Both recipes can easily be multiplied to feed a crowd.