For our ninja-themed party, I served a crowd-pleasing selection of Asian dishes. Though ninjas may be most closely associated with Japan, I planned the party buffet around a more familiar Chinese takeout menu, which I was certain would be enjoyed by both the adults and children at our event.
I made the sweet and sticky orange chicken, which I shared with you in a previous post, along with a mountain of homemade pork egg rolls (and a few veggie ones for our vegetarian guests) and a big batch of super simple vegetable lo mein. Grilled teriyaki beef skewers, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and jasmine rice completed the feast.
I’m sharing the "recipes" for both the lo mein and egg rolls below, though I should note that the batch I made was quadruple of what I’m sharing below and in the flurry of party-prep, I didn’t take exact measurements or record times as I cooked. Use the recipes as a guide, but as always, taste as you go. It’ll be "right" when it tastes good to you. And be creative with the ingredient lists. You can substitute any sort of veggies in the lo mein and add meat or seafood, if you desire.
Focus on Technique – How to Julienne
Julienne is a type of culinary knife cut, wherein the resulting pieces are long and thin, roughly the size and shape of a matchstick. A julienne cut is often used to make shoestring potatoes or can be used to cut a variety of veggies for sushi, soups, or garnish. A julienne cut appears most pleasing when the pieces are a uniform size, shape, and length.
To achieve a nice, even julienne, start by squaring your fruit or vegetable. To do this, cut off the rounded portion of one side. Lay the flat side down onto the cutting board, then slice off the rounded part of each side. Turn the fruit or vegetable to cut off the remaining rounded side. Then, thinly slice the fruit or vegetable, to about 1/8-inch thickness. Finally, stack the slices and carefully cut into matchsticks, about 1/8-inch wide.
*If you were to cut the matchsticks into teeny tiny 1/8-inch cubes, you would have a cut known as brunoise, pronounced broon-wah.
Vegetable lo mein
1 pound spaghetti or lo mein noodles, cooked al dente according to package directions
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 cup carrots, julienned
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce or oyster sauce
Salt and pepper
Heat sesame oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and veggies. Cook for about 10 minutes, until tender, stirring frequently. Add the cooked spaghetti, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and/or additional soy or fish sauce, as desired.
Garnish with additional sliced green onions, if desired.
Pork egg rolls
Makes about 10 egg rolls
For the filling:
1 tablespoon sesame or vegetable oil
1/4 lb. bulk pork sausage
4 cups cole slaw or Asian slaw mix (very thinly sliced cabbage, julienned carrots, celery)
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 package egg roll wraps
Heat the sesame or vegetable oil in a large pan. Add pork sausage. Cook for several minutes, using a spoon to break it into small pieces as it cooks. Add cole slaw or Asian slaw mix. Cook for several minutes, stirring frequently until the cabbage is wilted and tender. Drizzle oy sauce over the mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
To assemble the egg rolls:
Arrange an egg roll wrap with one of the points facing you. (If desired, you can layer two egg roll wraps, for a chewier egg roll.) Place a mound of the filling, about 1/3 cup, in the center of the wrap. Grab the point closest to you and wrap it up and around the filling. Then, grab each of the side points and fold them in towards the center. (Brush the points with a bit of water to help them stick.) Brush the top point with a little water, then continue rolling up towards the top point.
To cook the egg rolls: Heat about 1/2-inch vegetable oil over medium-high heat, to about 375 degrees F. Place a few eggrolls in the hot oil. Cook for a couple minutes on each side, until hot, golden, and crispy. Drain on a paper towel.