Monday, January 10, 2011

How to Make Lumpia (Filipino Eggrolls)

lumpia prito

On Sunday, I made cabbage soup. It wasn't very good. I didn't really know what to expect when I found the recipe -- it involved sour cream, which kind of weirded me out -- and when all was said and done, I realized I should've just trusted my gut instinct and made tortellini soup, instead. I even considered throwing it out, but then decided it was still edible, and packed it up for the week's lunch, anyway. It's going to be a long week.

But, fortunately, that's all I have to say about cabbage soup, because I also made lumpia! For the first time! All by myself! *Cue trumpets, dancers and wild applause.*

lumpia prito

Lumpia (I believe the correct plural form is lumpiang, but we never call it that in my family, so please excuse the slew of incorrect Filipino grammar that follows) refers to Filipino eggrolls, and comes in several different forms, but there are two types with which most people are familiar and that my mom most often makes. At my wedding, we served Lumpia Shanghai, which are small, thin and usually consist mainly of ground pork and very few, finely diced veggies, if any. These are dangerous deep-fried specimens, each consumed in no more than three bites, and entire plates known to be devoured in just minutes. You can see a picture of Lumpia Shanghai, in all its glory, here.

Lumpia Prito, or what I grew up calling "vegetable lumpia" (even though it usually contains meat, but more vegetables than Lumpia Shanghai, so maybe that explains it), are the eggrolls I made today and my favorite type of lumpia. My mom makes them large, similar to the size of the eggrolls you might order at a Chinese restaurant. However, I've always felt that Chinese restaurant eggrolls can be too greasy, often filled with too much cabbage or bean sprouts, and rolled with too-thick wrappers. Lumpia wrappers are much thinner, making them incredibly light and crisp when fried, and when talking on the phone with my mom about how to make lumpia, she reminded me not to add too much cabbage because she "just doesn't like it." OK, Mom. I totally agree.

The following how-to and recipe is based on my memory and years of experience as Assistant-to-Mom in the lumpia-making process, as well as a brief run-down from my mom as I shopped for lumpia wrappers. Let's get to it, shall we?

ground pork lumpia filling

First, make the filling, which is as simple as cooking some ground pork in onions and garlic, then adding green beans, carrots and cabbage, and seasoning with fish sauce (or soy sauce), salt and pepper. My mom sometimes likes to add potatoes and even sweet potatoes. Other fillings include ground turkey, bean sprouts or water chestnuts. You can even skip the meat altogether -- the possibilities are endless, really.

lumpia wrappers

You'll need lumpia wrappers. I found these in the frozen section at my local Asian grocery store, and chose this particular brand because they looked familiar to me. Just make sure they're square. Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator or on the counter for a few hours (the stack will still be pretty firm even when thawed), and carefully peel them apart before rolling.

lumpia wrappers

Here's a tip for separating the wrappers: Peel apart a large chunk at a time, then continue to divide each chunk in half until you're left with single wrappers. Keep your stack of wrappers between two damp paper towels to keep them from drying out while you roll.

making lumpia

After the filling has cooled completely, scoop a little less than half a cup into a small, rectangular mound just below the middle of the wrapper. This is kind of a lot of filling, but these are big eggrolls, so just go with it.

rolling lumpia

Carefully roll the lumpia, keeping the filling compact and making sure the wrapper is tight. Pull the sides across the top so that the lumpia resembles an open envelope.

lumpia prito
lumpio prito

Roll the lumpia once more until just the edge is exposed, and brush the edge with egg to seal. Brush the outside seams with more egg.

lumpia prito
frying lumpia

Place eggrolls seamside down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then fry the eggrolls in batches, on all sides, until golden brown. (Start frying seam side down to avoid the lumpia from opening in the pan.)

I always eat these with a simple sauce of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and black pepper.

I'm not really sure how to end this post, but Murdo just told me to "wrap it up" (ha ha) already, so here is the recipe. Go make lumpia! (And do not make cabbage soup.)

lumpia prito

Lumpia Prito
Makes 12 lumpiang

For the filling:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 lb ground pork* (can use ground turkey)
1 cup onions, diced
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup green beans, sliced thinly on a diagonal
3/4 cup cabbage, sliced small
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1/4 cup fish sauce (can substitute soy sauce)
salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add onions and garlic. Cook until translucent and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add ground pork, breaking up and cooking until no longer pink. Add the green beans, cook for 1-2 minutes. Add carrots, cook 1-2 minutes longer. Add cabbage and cook until slightly softened. Add fish sauce and stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.

(The key here is to not overcook the vegetables, as they will continue to cook later when frying the eggrolls. Instead, you want them just slightly cooked, so that they are bright but not too tender.)

Transfer pork mixture to a colander and let excess fat and moisture drain. Let cool completely. (I'm not sure what happens if you attempt to roll lumpia with warm filling, but I'm guessing the wrappers get soggy and fall apart. Just don't do it.) Filling can be made even further in advance -- I made my filling the night before, let cool and then stored in the refrigerator until ready to roll the lumpia the following morning.

For the rolling of the lumpia:
Parchment or wax paper
12 square lumpia wrappers (see tips for separating lumpia and keeping lumpia wrappers, above)
1 egg, beaten
Pork mixture, recipe above

On a large piece of parchment paper, position the lumpia wrapper so that it is a diamond facing you, with a pointed edge toward you. Scoop about 1/2 cup (I used slightly less than 1/2 cup, about 3/8 cup) of the pork mixture to form a rectangular mound just below the middle of the wrapper.

Pull the bottom edge of the wrapper over the filling, and gently tighten the wrapper around the filling. Fold the right and left edges over so that they touch in the middle and the wrapper now resembles an open envelope. Roll the entire lumpia over so that there is about a 1-inch seam exposed, then brush and seal with egg. You can also brush the outside seam with more egg.

Place seam side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining wrappers until the pork mixture is gone. Should make about 12.

(You can store these in the refrigerator for a few days until ready to roll, or even store them in the freezer for several months. Just be sure to thaw completely before frying.)

For the frying of the lumpia:
Heat 3-4 tablespoons of canola oil in a small skillet over high heat. When the oil is very hot, working in batches, place 3-4 eggrolls (do not overcrowd) in the skillet, seam side down, and fry on all sides until golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel, add more oil to pan if needed, and repeat frying process with remaining eggrolls.

Serve immediately with lumpia sauce (recipe below). To reheat, place in a toaster oven at 350 F for 3-5 minutes until hot and crispy. Every oven is different, so just be sure to watch carefully.

For the lumpia sauce:
Combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1-2 tablespoon vinegar, 1-2 smashed garlic cloves, and ground pepper into a small bowl. Adjust to your tastes.

For the eating of the lumpia:
Dip the end of the eggroll into the sauce. Take a big bite. Enjoy. Don't dip again -- first of all, double dipping is gross. Second, the filling is loose and will likely fall into the sauce if you turn your eggroll upside down. Instead, take a small spoonful of sauce and drizzle over each individual bite. Enjoy some more.

lumpia filling

*I used non-enhanced, non-confined, growth-hormone-free ground pork from Twin Oak Meats in Fairbury, Illinois. Purchased from Farm Fresh Foodstuffs.

19 comments:

  1. Amazing! They look just like mom's. Especially the picture of them all lined up uncooked and waiting, so many memories! I for one, was never able to graduate past the peeling the wrappers stage, so go you!

    Very inspiring. Thanks for demystifying them for me. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow Jack, just...wow. When I ate my first two lumpia tonight I realized how delicious they were, and I knew they took a ton of work to create. (Especially since making them was separated between two days) But the fact that they turned out so great on your very first try is even more impressive to me after reading this post. (Great job) Which brings me to my next point.

    I love this post. From the very first sentence I could tell it was you. In fact after finishing the third sentence I paused, and reread the beginning, and marveled at just how "you" it is. Your voice as a writer is so unique and so yours, and is a huge part in making this blog something people look forward to seeing. For as long as I've known you you've had that awesome, unique, writing voice of your own. When you couple that with your ever burgeoning photography skills, you get this incredible piece of creativity that we know as Happy Jack Eats. Which brings me to the last point of this lengthy comment.

    I love what you did with these pictures. In the past couple years you have developed an amazing talent for so many things; framing shots, setting up plates and arrangements to look their best, utilizing every last bit of light to improve the quality of your photos, and using that surgeon steady hand of yours to take amazing pictures, sometimes with only one hand on the camera and the other holding your subject, and all while using an excellent but unforgiving (in regards to movement) lens.

    All I can say is Bravo!, and I'm proud of you. I love the pictures you captured today, and I love the way you laid them out for the purpose of this post. Yet another talent... I also love eating the outcome of this post. : ) I know it's not your first post of the year, your first post promised of exciting and not boring things to come, and you have delivered as promised. I love you. Not boring, indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  3. hahaha, i love this kind of story. and you really deserve an applaud and pat on the back because making lumpia is all hard work. bravo ! :)and the presentation on the last photo is superbly delicious ! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yay! Congratulations on your inaugural and very successful lumpia-making! They look perfectly crisp and golden; now, I can feel a craving coming on...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Congrats on your first batch of lumpia! Wild applause all the way from California! I absolutely love how you showed the step by step of making lumpia because it can be daunting for those who've never tried it. You definitely made it an accessible recipe.

    I also do not like too much cabbage in my lumpia. I actually prefer no cabbage at all. I might just have to make some now...

    P.S. it's 7:42am here, I've already eaten breakfast, and now I'm hungry again. I blame your delicious photos.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You did such a great job! And the step-by-step photos are fantastic--I really get what you're saying and feel like it's approachable. I knew you'd master lumpia by yourself, I just knew it!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I like that you shallow fry them rather than deep fry. These look so delicious and I'm craving them now!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Holy yum! My aunt makes lumpia and I've always wanted to try it myself. Thanks for sharing your wonderful family recipe.

    ReplyDelete
  9. oh yum!!! i want an entire plate of those

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great photos! You really make it clear how to get things done properly by showing the step by step. I've been reading about eggrolls from different places all week, I'm thinking of planning an egg rolls around the world dinner.

    ReplyDelete
  11. J - Yay! Thank you. :) Next up: palabok. Ha, maybe.

    M - Love you, and your comments, and cooking for you, and all of it. I don't know what else to say...You leave me speechless and blushing. <3

    Ms. P - Yes, lots of work but actually very simple! Thank you!

    Tangled Noodle - The lumpia craving is a tough one to shake...How do you think I ended up making these in the first place. ;)

    Stephanie - Oh, thank you! And now I have a step-by-step guide for myself, because I know I'll need a reminder for next time...

    Shanna - Thanks always for your encouraging words!

    Su-Lin - Yeah, my mom always pan fries vegetable lumpia and usually deep fries lumpia shanghai. I used to own a deep fryer in college, but those days are long gone!

    NicoleD - It's definitely not as hard at all -- you should definitely try making it and let me know how it turns out.

    Char - I've totally eaten an entire plate of these before. No joke. :)

    Dana - Thank you! Eggrolls around the world sounds like a really fun idea, especially since it seems like every place does have its own version.

    ReplyDelete
  12. YUM! I love when you make and post Filipino food!When can I come over and try some?!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love lumpia! Well I've been rolling lumpia so much lately i feel like i'm becoming a lumpia, but i still somehow have love for it! Especially the veggie kind, your lumpia look great!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'd like to sign up to be one of those dancers. I love everything about this post.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Les - Whenever you want! I have two left in the fridge, waiting to be fried, but you might have to wrestle Murdo for one.

    Let Me Eat Cake - Just goes to show that one can never get too sick of lumpia. Seriously, it's like a drug!

    Jess - Your comment made me LOL. At my desk, at work. People may have turned to look.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great job and nice pictorial! I don't put any cabbage in my lumpiang ... your mom is right!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Ninette - Thank you! I think next time I may skip the cabbage altogether, too. It really doesn't add much and I never know what to do with the leftover cabbage in my fridge!

    ReplyDelete
  18. this is so great that i stumbled across your blog! a few months ago i was just beginning to ponder starting a food blog and i thought of the name 'happy jack eats' i googled it and saw that someone already had it (lovely you! :) and it must be shared that 1. my name is jackie 2. i am filipino and 3. i <3 your blog(and blog name)!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi there! I made these eggrolls as an appetizer for a super bowl party I threw and they were a hit! I used Turkey meat and Chinese Eggrolls since there weren't any Lumpia Wrappers in my local grocery. Great recipe! It's a keeper!

    ReplyDelete