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The Bait Layer
Fri, 28 Aug 2015
Australia's Classic Food Icon, A Chiko Roll Redux
Mood:  cool

My current take, and Clone Recipe, on/for the Mystery Bag - An iconic Australian Food item that few seem to eat, yet expats all the world over, lament not being able to have one.

What is a Chiko Roll?

Let's start with this, a Classic Advertisment on youtube.

Now, throughout my youth, Fish and Chip Shop walls were adorned with advertising posters, like this one:


but, nowadays it seems as though people have forgotten the simple message here: "You can't knock the Roll"

As alluded to in a previous post, I've been researching the Chiko Roll since 2008. Its now, 2015 and I'm still not done, but I am getting closer.

However, in all this time there has been one constant bugbear that shits me no end. With the exception of Westy's Recipe and Masterchef Marion's, almost every recipe suggests to use several spring roll, or dumpling, wrappers and fold it up like a, "Spring Roll" ... ... ... WTF!


It is not a Spring Roll. It never was! And was purposely designed to be bigger, firmer, and more substantial than any Spring Roll. Better in every way... Tongue out

Let's review Some History

from Wikipedia ...the font of all modern internet wisdom 

"In 1950, McEncroe saw a competitor selling Chinese chop suey rolls outsideRichmond Cricket Ground and decided to add a similar product to his own line. McEncroe felt that the Chinese rolls were too flimsy to be easily handled in an informal outdoor setting, and hit upon the idea of a much larger and more robust roll that would provide a quick meal that was both reasonably substantial and easily handled."

 You Can't Knock the Roll

 It's been frequently maligned as a, "Mystery Bag" by many, for a variety of reasons. Mostly, I think, because people don't seem to take any notice of what the food they're eating looks like, nor do they really care, as long as it does, "Hit the Hot Spot."  Wink

These days, the critiscism leveled against the Roll, could very well send it, the way of the Dodo.  Yet, when you actually bring all the ingredients together, its really quite  reasonable, as one can see here.


 Chiko Roll Redux

What's in it and how to make it 

According to Simplot's product details for the Chiko Roll, it contains the following:

Wheat Flour, Cabbage, Water, Cooked Barley (Water, Barley), Carrot, Beef, Animal Fat (Beef), Cereal (Wheat), Celery, Onion, Green Beans, Textured Soy Protein, Salt, Sugar, Acidity Regulator(450, Sodium Bicarbonate), Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein (Contains Soy), Spices, Emulsifier(471), Colours(102, 110), Flavour Enhancer(635), Antioxidant(320).

In addition to this, from the packaging info that comes with a box of 4 Chiko Rolls, it seems that the Cabbage makes up around 18% of the product and the meat around 4.5% 

For the home cook, some of the ingredients here can be neglegted as they are a) in very small quantity, and b) contribute to primarily to consistency and storeability factors, rather than taste.

These are: Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein (Contains Soy), Emulsifier(471), Colours(102, 110), Flavour Enhancer(635), & Antioxidant(320). If you're not adverse to using MSG then you could keep the Flavour Enhancer (635).

The acidity regulator (450, sodium bicarbonate), also known as Bicarb of Soda, is neccessary, as it: a) helps tenderise the meat and the stems of the cabbage, and b) helps to retain the green colour in the cabbage and the beans. It also contributes partially to the saltiness of the filling. 

Textured Soy Protein (SP) is also know as Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) with is a minced meat like-looking product prized by vegetarians and vegans alike. Here t is used to bulk out the protein content of the roll. You can ommit it, like I have done here or grab some, reconstitute it and add it in at around 1 - 2 Tbs to the recipe below. – Note: I don't believe McEnroe used this ingredient in his original product recipe… chew on that for a while.

After much research and consideration and discussion with variuos skilled cooks, I've disected the above ingredients list, and estimated the amounts of each ingredient based on list order and known percentages.

I then compared these estimates with typical cooks measures and have settled on the amounts listed in the following recipe, which fit the profile, and typical kitchen logic, which, "I hope," may have guided McEnroe in his initial recipe development. The last criterial was that the measure needed to be scalable in a simple matter rather than having odd and strange specific weights for everything. 

So, without further ado, a recipe for approx. 6 Chiko Rolls using approx. weights and measures. (drum roll…)

Recipe: The Bait Layer's Aussie Chiko Roll Redux 


2 cups (400g) flour

2 (110g) medium sized eggs

3 tbs (30g) beef fat, or butter 

1 tsp (6g) fine salt

3 ½ cups (180g) finely shredded Chinese Cabbage

¼ cup pearl barley (approx. 100g once cooked)

½ cup (55g) finely diced carrot

¼ cup (45g) coarse minced beef [I used 10% dry aged, Irish beef, for a bit of fun]

⅛ cup (25g) White Semolina [...Cerial(Wheat)]

¼ cup (20g) finely diced celery 

¼ cup (20g) finely diced white onions 

2 tbs (15g) coarse diced green beans

½ tsp (2g) Bicarb of Soda 

a pinch of salt, a pinch nutmeg, & a smidgeon fine black pepper for seasoning

Water for cooking, Oil for frying.



  1. [The filling] Crack the pearl barley in a coffee mill on a very coarse setting. It should be similar to steel cut oats. Then, cook the barley in at least ¾ cup water until soft. After draining the barley break up any large grains with a fork.
  2. Cook the carrots in 1-2 cups of water until just soft.
  3. In scant oil over medium heat, fry the diced onion until translucent, next add the celery and warm through until aromatic, then add the meat and brown the meat.
  4. Once the meat is brown, add the barley and any residual water and deglaze the pan.
  5. Next add the beans, cabbage, carrots, carrot water, and bicab of soda (this helps preserve the colour of the cabbage and the beans). Mix well, cover and allow the cabbage to steam until cooked. Add additional hot water as needed.
  6. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then using approx. ¼ to ½ a tsp of flour mixed with a scant amount of water, toss throught the cabage mixture to form a loose gravy. Set aside to cool.

Once cool, form the filling into 45mm diameter sausages, wrap in cling film and freeze until firm

  1. [The Egg Batter Dough] Combine the eggs, salt and ½ an eggshell of water and beat lightly.
  2.  Form a well in the middle of the flour, then pour in most of the egg mix. Reserve approx ¾ of an eggshell of egg mix to form a thick paste/thin dough with the Semolina. 

  3. Gradually bring the flour into the well and incorporate the egg mixture until a soft dough is formed. If too dry or shaggy, add a little water on your hands and knead lightly until smooth.
  4. Coat hands in oil and form the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and set aside in the fridge to rest for 1–2 hrs.
  5. [Bringing it altogether] Once the dough has rested, split it into two portions, and roll each out into a rectangular shape, and approx. 3-4 mm thick. Portion the dough into equal parts and cut. 
  6. Take the leading edge of one portion and roll it to approx. 1mm thick then on the opposite end, unwrap the filling and deposit the filling. Roll the pastry around the filling one full turn, then brush the leading edge with milk, eggwash or water and continue to roll. Smoothly blend the end into the pastry roll.
  7. Using the Semolina dough, form two thin (approx. 1-2 mm) disks and use these to cap the ends of the "Chiko Roll"
  8. Repeat for the rest of the dough and filling.
  9. When complete allow the rolls to rest for 30 min while preheating the oven to 200°C
  10. Once the oven is hot, bake the rolls on an open rack until they are a light yellow biscuit colour. Remove from the oven, cool and then freeze for later usage.

How to Use

When that hunger hits you, heat up a deep fryer to around 160–180°C and put one or two frozen "Chiko Rolls" carefully into the hot oil. Cook for around 10 minutes, drain and serve. If the oil is too hot, the rolls will darken too quickly on the outside and the filling will still be frozen. If this happens, zap it in the microwave for 1 min bursts until you are happy.

For a healthier roll, leave out the flour used for thickening, and use a heathy oil, like coconut oil to cook them, then drain well. It doesn't have to be bad for you, and with these ingredients, how could it be? 

You (really) Can't Knock the Roll!

Thus, there you have it, my take on a classic, Aussie icon, the Chiko Roll

That's all from the Bait Layer today,

Get that int' ya!

Posted by Tsc Tempest at 10:23 MEST
Updated: Thu, 2 Jun 2016 12:37 MEST
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