A is for Adobo

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Everybody loves Lumpia

And why shouldn't they? Savory meat and veggies fried in a crispy egg roll wrapper. What's not to love?

This weekend, I set out to make everyone's favorite Filipino party food along with two friends of mine. It was a team effort: One friend chopped the cabbage and grated the carrots, another separated the egg roll wrappers (a task my mom always gave me as I was a kid), while I sauteed and browned the meat.

It was a lumpia party of sorts, the three of us sitting around the table, scooping up portions of the meat and veggie mixture onto our wrappers, rolling and wrapping and talking. And drinking lots of vodka and cranberry juice. Good times.

Then we divided the finished lumpias up among the three of us and fried up a few for dinner.

Now that's good eatin'.

There are many different styles of lumpia. We made lumpiang gulai---literally, "vegetable lumpia," because out of all the different kinds, this was by far the easiest and, in my opinion, the tastiest. As always, there's going to be some variation in the recipe depending on the family and what region you come from. Some people in the States add anything from that frozen mixed vegetable mix (peas, green beans, corn, etc.), potatoes, to raisins, which I consider a high crime and misdemeanor.

Raisins have absolutely no place in lumpia. If anyone puts raisins in their lumpia, they must be beaten with their own shoe.

A vegetarian version is absolutely doable, too --- just substitute the meat for tofu, or seitan, whatever the hell you want. Or throw in more vegetables. The beauty of this is that this is more a method rather than a recipe, per se. All quantities can be adjusted according to your own personal taste.

Lumpiang gulai (vegetable lumpia)
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped - reserve 1 chopped clove for dipping (see below)
1/2 head of cabbage, sliced in thin ribbons
3-4 carrots, peeled and grated
Egg roll wrappers (about 30 or so - buy extra)
salt and pepper, to taste

To make the filling, sautee the onions and garlic in a large pot until the onions are translucent. Add the ground beef, and cook until browned.

Salt and pepper the ground meat mixture to your taste, then take off the heat.

Add the carrots and cabbage and stir until well incorporated. Spoon mixture into a colander placed over a large bowl to catch the drippings - you don't want soggy lumpia!

Lumpia wrappers come in two shapes: square and round. Use whichever one you have available. I prefer the square egg roll wrappers because they're not as delicate as the round ones, making them easier to work with.

To wrap. Oh boy. This is going to be hard to explain, but I'll give it my best shot.

Place the square wrapper in front of you so that it looks like a diamond shape. (If you use the round wrappers, a) you're a masochist, and b) Jah bless ya.) Spoon some of the meat and veggie mixture (not too much, maybe about 1.5 spoonful) closer to the bottom end of the diamond (or circle) and fold the bottom of the diamond up and over the meat. Pull it back against itself to tighten up the roll, and fold it over itself again. Fold the right, then left corners of the diamond over the roll, and um, roll until you run out of wrapper.

Visualize a burrito. But ... different.

If you want, you can seal the flap with some water, or a mixture of flour and water to keep it closed. But it's not necessary.

Have a tray ready for the finished lumpias. Many Filipino families save the styrofoam trays that meat comes in (well-washed and sanitized, of course) just for this purpose. Separate the layers of lumpia with wax paper or plastic wrap, then wrap and cover the tray (plastic bags are just fine, but whatever fits), and freeze.

According to my Dad, you must a) wrap the lumpias while the meat/veg mixture is still warm, then b) freeze the lumpia once you're finished - otherwise they'll spoil. I think this has something to do with the fact that there's onions in the mixture. For some reason, if food has onions in it, it spoils faster. Maybe it's another one of his superstitions, but you know how sometimes pancit can go bad the next day after making it? Onions, man. Tellin' you.

Fry the lumpia in a skillet with enough oil to come up the sides of the lumpia. You can deep fry as well, but it's not necessary. Lumpia should be golden brown. Drain upright (not flat) in a colander lined with paper towels to keep them crispy.

Serve with dipping sauce and rice, if you are so inclined.

Dipping sauce
1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Vinegar (apple cider, red wine vinegar, etc.)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and serve alongside the lumpia. Use a spoon to pour bits of the vinegary, garlicky goodness into the lumpia after you take your first bite.

(Photo credit: The Jersey Girl)



At 11/20/06, 6:12 AM, Blogger Virge said...

Ok---I may be the only perverted person who reads cooking instructions like they're erotica, because when I was reading your blog, I was salivating. And then the photos---BAM, that did it. Guess what we're having tonight, my friend. You got it---LUMPIA! Gotta love it, baby!

At 8/15/07, 5:34 AM, Blogger exskindiver said...

i love lumpia.
you do describe the process of making it in a rather like-water-for -chocolate kind of way.
unfortunately i can't cook.
but i can eat.

i got here through ron davison--through jeff, son of glen--where balut was the topic of interest.

kain na!


At 12/23/07, 7:14 AM, Blogger voicedancer2002 said...

Enjoyed the recipes - but I have a lumpia recipe from a school banquet in the 60's and it definitely has raisins in both lumpia and chicken adobo. Makes the taste totally different from any other garlic flavored food - and every nation needs something special!

At 12/14/09, 12:41 PM, Blogger Taste and Sight said...

i put raisins in my lumpia provided that the vegetable that go w/ it complements the raisins. bean sprouts should be avoided then. sorry-but i haven't beaten myself yet. cooking is an art therefore to each his/her own style of making a dish. i have several versions of lumpia-for difft kinds of people esp here in the states you deal w/ difft races, colors and ethnicity & their palate goes w/ it. I do have know my great grand ma's traditional lumpia recipe & make them if i want to but to tell the whole world that a certain ingredient is a crime for a dish is a crime itself-therefore just blog about how you do your own instead of telling people what to do or not what to do. There's no crime in the kitchen provided it's your own kitchen!

At 5/30/10, 3:32 PM, Blogger Mags said...

Taste and Sight: Sometimes when I write, I try to inject a little bit of humor, sarcasm, hyperbole and whatever else. You know. To keep things interesting. Please don't try to make this into something it's not. We're all friends here.

At 8/16/13, 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My family has a chicken and raisin lumpia that has been in my family for generations. When placed in a Filipino setting amongst other lumpia it ALWAYS wins hands down.

At 1/24/16, 6:43 AM, Blogger Hilda Minyard said...

I had a friend that was from the Philippines and she always used raisins.

At 1/24/16, 6:45 AM, Blogger Hilda Minyard said...

I had a friend who was Filipino and she always used raisins


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