Is there a dish that hearing its name alone brings out a childlike glee in you? Maybe that’s a dumb question—of course we all have a food that even the thought of eating gets our hearts racing. Well, lumpia is that special dish. We can’t really articulate why lumpia creates this kind of reaction. Maybe it’s the crunch of each bite. Maybe it’s the savory aspect of the filling. Or maybe it’s the soothing rolling action that can produce dozens of lumpia in one sitting. But why waste time thinking about such things when we could be eating? Not too long ago, a trip to one of our local Thai markets revealed a couple of ingredients that would make this entire meal come together in a snap.
Lumpia is a simple spring roll that is immensely popular in the Philippines and Indonesia. A slim roll of pastry is deep fried and jam packed with ground meat. Like most spring rolls, though, you can stuff it with anything you like to fit your preference—shrimp, vegetables, chicken, etc. But in our opinion, lumpia just isn’t lumpia without pieces of juicy meat flowing out of every bite. At our Thai Ethnic Exploration, we snagged a packaged of lumpia wrappers from the freezer section of the market. If you don’t have a market near you that sells lumpia wrappers, most grocery stores stock spring rolls specially made for frying that work just as well. Near the extended aisle of seasonings, there was shichimi togarashi–Japanese seven spice. Perhaps you are familiar with Chinese five spice? It usually blends warm, sweet spices such as star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed and Sichuan pepper. Japanese seven spice varies by the brand, but you may find black and white sesame seeds, dried orange zest, dried seaweed, red pepper flakes, ground ginger, poppy seeds, ground Sichuan peppers, etc. It is a unique flavoring agent for a variety of foods.
When it was time to cook the lumpia, we noticed each wrapper was pretty thin once removed from the package. We just double and triple layered the sheets to hold in the filling. The result was a crispier shell that would not let any of the pork filling escape. Don’t be afraid to the same. If you’ve never had lumpia before, run to your nearest filipino market or eatery so you too can experience the gluttonous merriment this easy snack provides.
Lumpia (Filipino Spring Rolls) – Makes about 12 rolls (adapted from Rasamalaysia)
1 pound ground pork
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ginger paste
2 tablespoons green onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon shichimi togarashi
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 egg, slightly beaten
Black pepper, to taste
1 package lumpia wrappers, about 25 sheets
Canola or vegetable oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
8 ounces pineapple chunks, save the juice
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pork and all remaining ingredients for the lumpia filling until well mixed. Set aside.
2. Remove wrappers from package and cover with damp paper towels to keep moist. Place one wrapper (or a couple stacked on top of each other) on a flat surface and spread about 1-1 1/2 tablespoons of the filling in a line about 2 inches from the bottom edge of the wrapper. Fold in the left and right sides of the wrapper to cover the filling, then roll into a skinny cylinder. Repeat with the remaining wrappers until filling is gnoe.
3. Heat about 1/2 inch of cooking oil in a large, flat pan over medium-high heat. Fry rolls a few at a time until all sides are golden brown and meat is cooked, about 5 minutes. Turn rolls throughout frying for even cooking.
4. Let cool for two minutes in a wire basket or on top of paper towels before eating.
5. For the sauce, puree the pineapple and its juice in a food process or blender. Set aside.
6. In a medium saucepan, heat brown sugar and cornstarch on medium heat. Stir in soy sauce and cider vinegar, mixing until well dissolved.
7. Mix in pineapple puree, stirring for an additional 2 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool completely.
Click HERE for the printable recipe.