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Friday, October 21, 2011

A Perfect Party Appetizer

Fried lumpia:  Filipino Spring Rolls

A Perfect Party Appetizer
by Victoria Challancin

On Wednesday of this week, I taught a cooking class to Mexican cooks living here in San Miguel de Allende, my home.  After launching into an explanation of the history of lumpia, those delightful fresh or fried spring rolls that hail from the Philippines, I felt quite proud knowing I was educating palates as well as just teaching recipes.  After demonstrating the rolling technique, using prepared frozen won ton wrappers, I had each cook participate in the rolling of the remainder of the pasta.  As we began the process, one of the cooks smiled and said, "Oh...taquitos."

Yes, the Mexican cooks in my class definitely "got" these lumpia immediately.  Clearly, they are just Asian-flavored taquitos.  Clearly.  And why not?  They fit the description of a taco dorado perfectly:  a bit of flavored meat or other filling, enveloped in a wrapper and fried.  Both the dough and the fillings may differ from those of Mexican origin, but clearly these delicious, tiny springrolls are simply a variation on tacos.

I learned to make lumpia from my brother and his wife, who had learned to make them from a Filipina friend while living in Bahrain in the 70s.  They've been a mainstay in my family as a perfect accompaniment for drinks since then.  I still smile to remember my late Dad, a meat-and-potatoes man who did not lean toward the exotic, refusing the "lumpia"  when offered, but happily embracing them five minutes later as "hamburger rolls".  Go figure.

When making a batch of lumpia, you can easily package the uncooked rolls in Zip-lock bags and freeze them to have on hand for whenever you might need them.  You can serve them with a variety of Asian dipping sauces, or with mustard, the condiment of choice in my parents' home.

If you would like to see lumpia being prepared by a an Iron Chef contestant, check out the YouTube video here.

       Miniature Filipino Spring Rolls


Yields: 16 servings
Note:  These spring rolls can be baked at 400 degrees, turning after 10 minutes, for about 20 minutes 

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground beef
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup minced carrots
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup thinly sliced Napa cabbage           
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
30 Won ton wrappers
2 cups vegetable oil for frying (or they can be baked)

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a wok or large sauté pan. Cook meat, stirring frequently, until no 
longer pink. Remove meat from pan, drain in a colander,  and set aside. Drain excess grease from pan, 
leaving approximately 1 tablespoon.   Add garlic and onion to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the 
cooked meat, carrots, green onions, and cabbage. Season with pepper, salt, and soy sauce.   Add beaten 
egg, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, and set aside until cool enough to handle.  

Dip your index finger into a small bowl of water and moisten the edges of each wrapper as you fold it.  
Place one heaping tablespoon  of the filling in the center of each wrapper, leaving a 1-inch space at 
either end.   Fold one corner over the filling, fold over the two side corners over the filling to seal the 
ends, and continue to roll into a tight package.   Cover the rolls with plastic wrap or a damp towel to 
keep moist.

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat, add oil to 1/2-inch depth, and heat for 5 minutes or until oil is 
very hot.   Carefully slide 8 to 10 lumpia (or however many will fit into pan without crowding) into the 
hot oil. Fry the rolls for 1 to 2 minutes, until all sides are golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately. 

Although I still like to serve lumpia with mustard, an Asian dipping sauce would certainly be more 
authentic and delicious as well.  Unfortunately, here in San Miguel de Allende, true scallions are rare, 
and so we had to substitute small bulb onions--but the result was still tasty!

Spicy Asian Dipping Sauce
(Recipe from

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon chile pepper flakes
1 tablespoon scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Can make in large batches and store in refrigerator for a 
couple of weeks.


Fried lumpia:  Filipino Spring Rolls

Fried lumpia:  Filipino Spring Rolls with both a soy dipping sauce and simple mustard--the way my family enjoys them!

Made of Sugar:  Long-legged Sheep Alfeñiques, a pre- Day of the Dead gift from
very special friends

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

No matter what language, these look absolutely delicious! :D Your classes sound like fun!

Ben said...

I haven't had lumpias in a long time. I wish I had attended your class.

Alex Staff said...

Hm. This party appetizer you featured is quite new to me. Did your students like it? I think I’ll match these Filipino spring rolls with a spicy Asian dipping sauce for the same reason you have – it’s more authentic this way! But I’ll probably use a dip with a stronger hot sauce, since I believe chili pepper flakes won’t do the trick for me.

Victoria at Flavors of the Sun said...

Yes, indeed, the cooks loved them. Why not? They thought they were like taquitos. Am certain that on their own they will add more chile as well!

FUT 14 Coins said...
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Nagi@RecipeTinEats said...

This recipe is really a good party appetizer! And I love spring rolls. Now, you gave and idea and I want to make lumpia. Thanks for this! :D