After an intense three days of workshops at WriterCon where I rubbed elbows with authors, publishers, editors, agents, writers, and other industry experts in the literary and publishing world, I was starving for egg rolls, but not just any egg rolls. It had to be the egg rolls from Snow’s Kitchen: A Novella and Cookbook.
Instead of hitting the international district to get all the ingredients, I ventured to the Costco in Oklahoma City, prepared to get everything I needed so that I could roll two hundred egg rolls. After all, there's no place like Costco. My husband and son are spoiled. We freeze them and fry them straight out of the freezer, on demand, when we are hankering for fried egg rolls, also known as lumpias and spring rolls.
The recipe in Snow’s Kitchen: A Novella and Cookbook called for basics which I already had in my pantry and fridge, such as salt, pepper, eggs, oil, and chicken bouillon. All I needed were shrimp, ground pork, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, egg roll wrappers, and sweet pre-made chili fish sauce… or what the Vietnamese call Nước Mắm Chấm, a dipping sauce made with fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, water, garlic, and chili peppers.
The original recipe for the egg rolls can be found on page 142 of this novella-cookbook hybrid, which has over one hundred pages of photos and recipes.
Off I went with my super-sized shopping cart. The first stop was the frozen section where I picked up two 2-lb bags of the Kirkland Signature Raw Shrimp, 31-40-count, which cost $29.98 USD, or $7.50 per pound. I heard Borat’s voice in my head saying, “Great success!” Feeling confident, I went to the meat section to get four pounds of ground pork. Now, not all Costcos are the same and in Oklahoma City, there was no ground pork to be found unless I got the four-pack ground Italian sausage for $14.99. I asked myself, "Do I really want to remove the casings from twenty sausages?" I definitively decided no. Instead, I substituted the pork with ground turkey, feeling good that it was a healthier option. The 6.8 pounds of 93% lean ground turkey cost $23.99, or $3.53 per pound. So far, so good.
Off to the produce section I went and that was when Scooby-Doo’s rut-roh rang in my ear. I couldn’t find any carrots or cabbage, and there were no mushrooms to be found. Drat, I was going to have to stop at a grocery store near home. And because I was at Costco, I couldn’t leave with only three items in my cart, not after I fought for my parking spot a million miles from the entrance and left breadcrumbs to find my way back. Three items in my boat-cart weren't the Costcorgeois way.
Forty minutes later and $348.82 poorer, I left Costco without egg roll wrappers, Nước Mắm Chấm, or produce for the egg rolls. How disappointing. I found boxes of Snapdragon brand Vietnamese pho and Lian Pho Bo instant noodles, as well as Musang King durian pulp from Malaysia... but no egg roll wrappers or fish sauce. I've been to a lot of Costco stores, my favorite being the one in Vancouver B.C. not only for the variety it offers but the currency exchange rate is usually in the U.S.A.'s favor.
One thing rings true across all Costco stores I've ever visited though and that is the customer service. Every employee is kind, patient, and helpful. The return policy is fantastic. No hassle. No fuss.
So even though I managed to spend $348.82 in forty minutes, I wondered... is Costco still a Cost Company? Well, it depends on how you look at it! I say yes because $7.50 per pound for a 31-40 count bag of shrimp and $3.53 per pound of ground turkey still beat the price of shrimp and turkey I found at the local grocery stores. I was able to pick up ingredients I needed on my way home so factoring in fuel and extra time was a moot point.
Even with the substitute meat of ground turkey instead of ground pork, the egg rolls turned out delicious. It was not as juicy and fatty as ground pork, but the flavor was there. My family of three gobbled up a bunch of fried egg rolls and froze the remaining fourteen dozen. We even made our own Nước Mắm Chấm sauce from the recipe in Snow’s Kitchen: A Novella and Cookbook, published by Quill Hawk Publishing.