Here, F&W Digital Food Award winners Diane Cu and Todd Porter of White on Rice Couple, preview their first cookbook, Bountiful, which drops on October 15. Read more >
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Here, F&W Digital Food Award winners Diane Cu and Todd Porter of White on Rice Couple, preview their first cookbook, Bountiful, which drops on October 15.

This is a story about kale, egg rolls and breaking some rules. We’re known for a few things within our posse of food friends and family: We never tire of kale, our love of deep-fried egg rolls is eternal, and stirring up some trouble in the kitchen is how we keep our culinary lives exciting. So how is it that all these three have something in common? The answer is easy: We make it happen. And at the same time, we make it delicious to the point that friends need to eat a half-dozen.

It starts with Diane’s family tradition of eating Vietnamese egg rolls, a dish that was immediately shared between the both of us when we met more than 19 years ago. Throughout the years, with Todd’s American cattle ranch upbringing and Diane’s love of fresh, seasonal market produce, we added some different spins on the egg roll filling. The range of combinations has occasionally bewildered Diane’s Vietnamese mom.

Mom is a traditionalist and her famous egg rolls come from plenty of history: ground pork, glass noodles, black fungus mushrooms and all that same jazz. White on Rice Couple, however, blends traditional flavors and modern ingredients. When you have a dish as versatile as an egg roll, we’re bound to experiment with anything that can be stuffed in wrappers and deep-fried to a crisp.

Our kale obsession is fed by the fact that it’s available all season in Southern California. So during one of our rebellious recipe-testing days for the Bountiful cookbook, we decided to mix kale and ground chicken together in an egg roll. Omit the pork. Omit the glass noodles. We wanted something different and we wanted kale. So, voila! What emerged out of the deep fryer was one of our most well-received egg roll recipes, included below. Our friends can’t get enough of them and each person needs to have at least four to five to themselves.

And as for Mom’s approval? We’re not showing her yet, until we show her the cookbook. If it’s in print, then hopefully she’ll be proud and open to having a bite for herself. Or maybe even a few rolls!

Kale and Chicken Egg Rolls with Ginger Soy Dip

11/2 pounds (680g) ground chicken
1/2 pound (225g) kale, ribs and tough stems removed, leaves chopped into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons fish sauce or soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
About 2 dozen 7- to 8-inch (17.5- to 20-cm) egg roll wrappers
Egg white, for sealing wrappers
Vegetable oil, for frying
1/2 cup (120ml) soy sauce
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root

1. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, kale, egg, sugar, soy sauce, and garlic. Mix well. Set aside to marinate for 20 to 30 minutes.
2. To roll the egg rolls, place one wrapper at a time on your work surface and spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling onto the lower one-third of the wrapper. Begin rolling from the bottom, tucking the filling under and folding in the sides as you roll. Brush the edges of the wrapper with egg white to seal them. Set the finished rolls aside on a sheet pan as you finish them.
3. In a large frying pan, heat approximately 3/4 inch (2 cm) oil over medium heat. Test the heat of the oil by adding a small piece of egg roll wrapper to the pan. If it sizzles and browns too quickly, then your heat is too high.
4. Gently place the egg rolls in the heated oil and fry for 5 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden on the bottom. Turn the egg rolls over and cook until they are golden on the other side and the filling is cooked through.
5. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce and ginger and stir well.
6. Serve the egg rolls warm, with the dip on the side.