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Original Egg Rolls

From: Bill
Sent: Sunday, March 01, 2015 6:17 PM
Subject: egg rolls

Hi, Phaedrus, long time no email, so here it is.  I may have asked you this before, and if I did, I apologize, 
but my memory is not what it used to be.

The other day I was eating in one of my favorite Chinese restaurants now located an hour from where I live.  
I refused the egg roll she brought me saying it was the one item on her entire menu that I did not like.  
She was taken aback to say the least, and I went on to explain that her egg roll was deemed a cabbage roll 
in my book as that seemed to be the main ingredient with a little bit of meat.  Nothing else.  I remember 
growing up that there seemed to be a variety of ingredients in an egg roll but not plain American cabbage.  
Maybe bok choy, but not regular cabbage.  A lot of other Chinese restaurants I visit are similar though.  
Lots of cabbage and not much else.  

Have times changed and I am left behind? Am I being too particular? 
What was the classic recipe for an egg roll? After the egg was eliminated of course.

Regards, Bill

Hi Bill,

The origin and traditional recipe for egg rolls are complicated questions. The filling recipe varies quite a lot, and there is some debate about the origin of the egg roll. There is also some confusion about the difference, if there is any difference, between egg rolls and spring rolls. The information that I’m giving is what seems to be the majority opinion, but is by no means definitive.

First, let’s talk about the commonly stated differences between egg rolls and spring rolls:

Egg roll wrappers are usually rather thick and are traditionally made with wheat flour and egg. Spring roll wrappers are much thinner, have no egg and often made with rice flour. Spring rolls are smaller, and less often contain any meat. However, there are spring roll recipes that contain meat such as shrimp, pork, or chicken. There are egg roll wrapper recipes that have no egg.

Some folks of Chinese descent say they never saw an egg roll until they came to America, but some say they are a traditional treat in China at Chinese New Year and Spring Festival, although this may be "spring rolls” as distinct from egg rolls.

The majority opinion seems to be that of author Andrew Coe, who wrote “Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States.” He says that the egg roll was most likely invented in New York sometime in the early 1930s. Two chefs claimed to have created them: Lung Fong of "Lung Fong's", and Henry Low of "Port Arthur". Henry Low even included an egg roll recipe in his 1938 book “Cook at Home in Chinese.” According to Coe, Low’s recipe included “bamboo shoots, roast pork, shrimp, scallions, water chestnuts, salt, MSG, sugar and pepper,” a somewhat different filling than the filling of mostly cabbage with small bits of pork and carrot that most egg rolls seem to contain nowadays.

Read more here: Sun Star and here: Chinese New Year

These New York egg rolls appear to have developed from two previously existing things: the aforementioned spring rolls, and something called "dan guen", which was a thin omelet wrapped around a filling of bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, mushrooms, chicken and ham, covered with a sauce. In fact, “dan guen” means “egg roll”, and a recipe in a 1917 book called“The Chinese Cook Book” is for a mixture of dry mushrooms, bean sprouts, chicken, and roast pork wrapped in an omelet. I was not able to find either Lung Fong’s or Henry Low’s actual egg roll recipes on the web, but if you are interested, you can find copies of Henry Low’s “Cook at Home in Chinese” at various used book sites on the web. His recipe or Lung Fong’s recipe would be the nearest thing in existence to an original recipe for Chinese-American egg rolls.

Regarding your complaint about the cabbage, most recipes that I found call for either bok choy, Chinese cabbage, ordinary cabbage, or some combination of these, and this makes up the majority of the filling in most recipes. Egg roll fillings vary from chef to chef and from restaurant to restaurant, and there doesn’t appear to be a classic recipe that can be held up as an example unless it’s Henry Low’s or Lung Fong’s. Prior to World War II, it appears that some recipes had much less cabbage, and some had none at all. As Chinese food became a sort of fad in the 1950s, the recipes with a lot of cabbage became pervasive. It might have been due to the availability of ingredients.

I found a few recipes with a take on egg roll filling that I have not experienced – noodles in the filling. I have been told that there is some inexplicable difference in egg rolls served at Boston area Chinese restaurants, but I have not had any success in finding out what that difference is.

There are spring rolls recipes on these sites; spring rolls tend to have less cabbage or no cabbage, but perhaps less flavor as well:

Spring Rolls

Vietnamese spring rolls: Vietnamese Spring Rolls


From: Bill
To: "'Phaedrus'" 
Subject: RE: egg rolls
Date: Monday, March 02, 2015 12:15 PM

Dear Phaed, thank you for your interesting reply.  I didn’t know there was that much history associated with an egg roll.  
I heard the term egg roll was similar to what you said about dan guen, the wrapper of the egg roll was a thin sheet of 
omelet wrapped around the contents.  I took a Chinese cooking course, once and a long time ago, and of course, I cannot 
find any of my recipes, but the Chinese instructor, who told me about the egg wrapping, said there were two kinds of 
egg rolls in China, the traditional egg roll that I grew up with, and the Cantonese egg roll, that was solid shrimp, 
no vegetables of any kind.  She indicated that egg rolls were a native Chinese dish but she was born after 1950 so she 
may not be totally aware of that.

Your discourse on spring rolls is interesting as well.  I had never heard of a spring roll until well into adulthood.  
I have noticed a couple differences between spring rolls and egg rolls, but by no means, anything that I could definitely 
call a standard.  There seems to be less frying involved with a spring roll, both the innards and the wrapper, and the 
contents are not packed as much as an egg roll.  To be honest, I always felt the spring roll was a much inferior imposter 
of the egg roll.

I also remember dating a girl in medical school that made a pretty darn good egg roll.  The only problem with hers was
that they were not packed as tight as an egg roll in a restaurant.  

I guess I am unsatiated right now in regards to egg rolls and thus my initial email to you.  Thanks for your insight on all this!

Regards, Bill

See also: 7-14-2007

Spaghetti Sauce Bread

From: Raquel 
Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2015 7:40 AM
Subject: Pillsbury Bake Off Spaghetti Sauce French bread

Hello.  My name is Raquel. 

I am looking for a recipe for a french bread made with spaghetti sauce in it that was featured in a 
Pillsbury Bake Off book from back in the 70s.  I recently moved and I think the book was a casualty.  
Anyway, this bread made fantastic grilled cheese.  If you could find it for me, that would be great.  
Thanks in advance.


Hello Raquel,

Sorry, I could not find a recipe like that. While it is helpful to know that it was in a Pillsbury Bake-Off book from the 70’s and that it had spaghetti sauce in it, it would be even more helpful to know the exact name of the recipe and some details about the ingredients. We don’t have copies of the Pillsbury Bake-Off books, and there is not a list of the Bake-Off recipes from the 1970s on the web, at least not one that I can find. Was the spaghetti sauce made from scratch or did the recipe call for Ragu or another commercial sauce? Are you sure it was spaghetti sauce and not pizza sauce? The exact year that the recipe was in the bake-off might help as well. Whether you know or don’t know the answers to any of these, please let me know. I’ll post the request on my site in case a reader can help. Searching for recipes named “spaghetti bread", I found a few recipes, but they don’t seem right for making grilled cheese sandwiches:

Braided spaghetti bread. This one is filled with meat sauce: Spaghetti Braid

This one is filled with sauce, cheese, and actual pasta: Braided Spaghetti Bread

The two below could be used to make grilled cheese, but they don’t have sauce in them, just spices. I did not find any “spaghetti bread” recipe that mentioned the Pillsbury Bake-Off.


Spaghetti Bread

Servings: 1 Servings

1 1/2 teaspoon    Yeast
2 cub    Bread flour
1 tablespoon    Sugar
1 teaspoon    Garlic salt
1/3 cup    Grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon    Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon    Olive oil
1 cub    Warm water

Ingredients should be at room temperature. Liquids (and 'warmed' ingredients) should be at 120-130 degrees.

Add ingredients in order given. Setting: white bread
Spaghetti Bread

1 cup warm water (70* to 80*)
2 tablespoons olive OR vegetable oil
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used the kind out of the can - still tasted great)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon EACH dried basil, marjoram, savory and thyme
1/8 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
for the last 3 entries, whatever you have on hand, go with that. it'll still be great. 
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast

In bread machine pan, place all ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Select basic bread setting. 
Choose crust color and loaf size if available. Bake according to bread machine directions. (Check dough after 
5 minutes of mixing; this dough should appear dry. If it looks wet, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour.
From: Raquel  
Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2015 12:56 PM
To: Phaedrus 
Subject: Re: Pillsbury Bake Off Spaghetti Sauce French bread

Thank you so much for your prompt answer to my question.  In answer to your questions, sorry, 
but I do not know the exact name of the recipe.  I do not think it called for a specific brand 
name of spaghetti sauce.  I am pretty sure is was spaghetti sauce, not pizza sauce.  
It was Bake-Off #20, year 1969.  None of these recipes are similar, this particular recipe was 
for french bread using the sauce as part of the liquid in the dough and when baked the bread 
is a reddish color.  Thank you for any help!


Hello Raquel,

It helps to know the year and Bake-off #, although I still had no success finding your recipe. The prize winner for Bake-Off #20 was “magic marshmallow crescent puffs.”

I’ll post this on my site in case a reader can help, but it will be a month before it appears. Your best choice might be to just buy a copy of the recipe book for Bake-Off #20. The book is “Pillsbury 100 Bake - Off Recipes From Pillsbury's 20th Annual Bake - Off – 1969”. You can get a used copy from for as little as ninety-nine cents($0.99) plus three or four dollars for shipping. See: Pillsbury 100 Bake - Off Recipes From Pillsbury's 20th Annual Bake - Off – 1969


From: "Jennie"
Subject: Spaghetti Sauce Bread recipe found
Date: Sunday, November 06, 2016 3:16 PM

I found a recipe that looks similar to the Spaghetti Sauce Bread that
Raquel requested on February 25, 2015.  It's posted on the Red Star Yeast
website and it's called Easy Tomato Basil Bread.  Hope this is helpful!


Easy Tomato Basil Bread

Imagine this bread with a vegetable pasta salad or as a pepperoni and cheese
sandwich ­ toasted!

Yield: 1 loaf
2 cups tomato­basil flavored spaghetti sauce
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
3­4 cups bread flour*
2-1/4 tsp (one package) RED STAR Active Dry Yeast

*Amount of bread flour will vary with each brand of spaghetti sauce; see
directions below.
Bread Machine Method:
Place spaghetti sauce, Parmesan cheese, 3 cups bread flour and yeast in bread pan. 
Select White or Basic cycle and start machine. Keeping the lid of the machine open, 
gradually add enough of the additional bread flour until mixture forms a smooth, 
soft ball. Close lid. When baking is complete, remove bread from machine as soon 
as possible. Cool on rack.

You can substitute Instant (fast­rising) yeast for Active Dry Yeast.

Traditional methods­ replace 1:1.
Expect your dough to rise faster; always let your dough rise until ‘ripe’.
Bread Machines­ use 1/2 tsp Instant yeast (or 3/4 tsp Active Dry yeast) per cup of 
flour in your recipe.

You can select dough cycle and remove dough after 1st rise. Then shape into loaf, 
place in greased bread pan, rise until finger indentation remains after lightly 
touching, bake for 25 minutes at 375°F. Let cool on wire rack, slice and enjoy!


Gwen did some additional research and found this:

I have the ingredients list but not the full directions. I know that after the yeast is activated, 
ingredients are added with flour added gradually, kneaded until smooth, left to proof for one hour 
in a greased bowl, then the dough punched down, separated into three 12 inch long loaves, and left 
to proof for an additional 45 minutes or so until light and doubled in size before baking for 
35 minutes until golden brown. 

French Bread Pizza Style
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 can (8oz) or 1 cup spaghetti sauce
1 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese 
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp sweet basil
1/2 tsp oregano
3 tablespoons olive or cooking oil
5 1/4 to 7 cups pillsbury all purpose flour
oven 375
3 medium loaves


Teriyaki Chicken Wings

-----Original Message----- 
From: Christina
Sent: Saturday, February 28, 2015 7:08 PM
Subject: Teriyaki chicken wings

You dredge the wings in cornstarch, I think, and cook them in a dry pan, 
then pour the sauce on them.  I know I am missing something because they 
aren't turning out. I thought it was a frugal gourmet recipe but I can't 
find it.  Thank you, Christina

Hi Christina,

So little information about the recipe makes it very difficult. I can only find two recipes in which the chicken wings are dredged in cornstarch:

Chinese Chicken Wings

Chicken Wings

I'll post this on the site in case a reader can assist.


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