Must be quite the occasion, as today introduces not just one, but two types of lumpia, a Filipino egg roll of sorts typically served at parties and at other celebrations. There’s the classic pork, carrot and water chestnut variety, pictured above on the right, and a newer crab, pineapple and ginger version from Hawaii, which boasts a considerable Filipino-American population. They’re served with a pair of dipping sauces, a vinegar-garlic mix on the left, and a sweet and tangy Chili Sauce on the right.
Before continuing with the descriptions, credit where it’s due, and there are multiple sources this week. The traditional pork lumpia is featured on Tasty‘s website, while wikiHow explains the Hawaiian crab variation. As for the sauces, instructions for the vinegar-garlic dip come from The Adobo Road Cookbook, and filipino-food-recipes.com has details on the Sweet Chili Sauce. Whew, that’s it!
Anyway, lumpia differ from (and are much better than) their more common Chinese-American cousins in that lumpia wrappers are paper-thin by the time they’re served and consequently, are delicately, almost ethereally, crispy. To obtain this status, a special wrapper is best:
This accomplished, the filling also distinguishes lumpia. In both the Filipino and Hawaiian varieties, the contents are light, crunchy and ginger-forward. Subtle, but with a catchy perfume. No matter whether the companions are pork and carrots, or crab and pineapple, the ginger makes it a date night.
How to warp them? It’s easy once you get the idea, and that facility comes after two or three tries, at most. First, lay the wrapper in front of you, like a diamond, and distribute about 1/4-cup of filling about a third of the way from the bottom:
Next, set the bottom corner on top of the filling and roll tightly away from you, until you reach the halfway point:
Once there, fold the far corners in toward the center, until they meet in the middle:
Finally, continue rolling away from you until about two inches of the top corner remain in sight:
Apply a little egg wash to the tip of the top corner, then fold it over the roll, toward you. Set aside the egg rolls, sealed side up, until ready to cook. Best to cover the waiting lumpia with a soaked kitchen towel, to prevent the wrappers from drying and cracking.
Often, larger Filipino households (or restaurants) hold “lumpia-making” parties, with multiple people making quick work of the project. Quite manageable as a newbie solo effort too, though. Either way, it’s a party before the party. With lumpia on hand to boost the celebrations, there’s no telling how far into the night we’ll go!
(Classic Filipino Style)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, minced (*1)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium carrot, chopped (*2)
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 12-ounce can of water chestnuts, drained and chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced, plus more (not minced) for garnish
- 1-and-1/2 cups canola oil, for frying
- 25 lumpia wrappers
- 1 egg, beaten
Place a large skillet over a medium-high flame. Add the oil. When it shimmers, stir in the onion, garlic, ginger and carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is slightly translucent, about four minutes.
Add the ground pork and cook, agitating often, until the pork is cooked, about six minutes. Stir in the water chestnuts, salt, paepper and soy sauce. Cook for two minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the green onion and cilantro and remove pan from heat. Set aside to cool.
Once the filling cools, roll the lumpia as per the instructions in the intro.
Steps for frying the lumpia follow. Please make note, as this is the same process you’ll use for the crab lumpia and the recipe will reference this procedure.
++Place a deep frying pan over a medium-high flame. Pour in enough canola oil to reach a depth of an inch. Reserve the remaining canola oil for replenishing the supply later. When the oil reaches 300°, reduce the flame to medium.
Carefully place five lumpia in the pan. Fry for a minute or so per side, until golden-brown. Rotate as needed to ensure even color. Remove lumpia to cool on a wire rack.
Add more canola oil to the pan between batches as needed to maintain a depth of an inch. Let the temperature climb back to 300° before adding the next batch.
When lumpia are crisp and cool enough to handle, transfer them to a paper towel to finish cooling. (*3)
Slice in half diagonally if desired, and serve.
1 – A large shallot is more refined and colorful; use it instead.
2 – The original recipe requires the carrot to be “minced.” Unfortunately, doing this will lose the carrot in the filling. Instead, a fairly rough chop will retain intriguing flashes of color, as seen in this week’s lead photo.
3 – Letting the lumpia cool entirely on the wire rack will leave them crisp, but greasy. On the other hand, confining them to the paper towels throughout will wick away the excess grease, but then the lumpia won’t crisp either. What to do?
Best to try “hybrid” cooling. Start them on the wire rack, then when they’ve cooled enough to handle, move them to the paper towels. Problem, it seems, solved!
Crab Lumpia (*4)
(Filipino-Hawaiian Spin on the Original)
- 1 medium onion, diced (*5)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup ginger, minced (*6)
- 1 tablespoon celery leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 pounds crab meat
- 30 lumpia wrappers
- salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
- 1-and-1/2 cups canola oil, for frying
- 5 eggs, divided
- 1 red apple, cored and finelt diced
- 3 cups minced pineapple
In a large bowl, mix the crab, garlic, ginger, celery leaves, thyme, apple and pineapple. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl beat four of the eggs, reserving the last egg to seal the eggroll, as specified in the intro. Mix the four beaten eggs into the crab mixture.
Roll the filling into the lumpia wrappers, as detailed above, before the recipes.
Cook and cool the lumpia using the same method outlined above, in the “Homemade Lumpia” recipe. This part of the instructions begins above at the double plus signs (“++”).
4 – The recipe assumes that, being in Hawaii, fresh (uncooked) crab will be used. Thus, the first few steps involve cooking the filling. To those of us more inland, the only crab available already has been cooked. Therefore, I’ve skipped the first few (now redundant) cooking steps.
5 – One large shallot, if you please, Mr. Christian.
6 – That’s a lot of minced ginger. You probably need eight inches of the root to get a whole cup’s-worth. This better be worth it.
Sweet Chili Sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1-and-1/2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons tapioca starch (*7)
- 1/4 cup shredded carrots
- pinch of salt
In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients, stirring until the starch dissolves entirely.
Place a small saucepan over a medium flame, and pour in the chili sauce. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens and reduces by a third, about ten minutes.
7 – You can use cornstarch too, though it doesn’t chill as easily as does tapioca starch. Not an issue if you intend to use all the sauce soon, but if you might want to refrigerate some for later use, tapioca starch is your option.
Garlic Vinegar Dipping Sauce
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- heavy pinch of salt
In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients.
…that’s it -recipe over!