Dinner

By Joseph Hernandez | October 31, 2012

Crispy Lumpia (Photo: Mazemet)

Crispy, golden lumpia. (Photo: Mazemet)

As autumn continue to ramp up to cooler days, more colorful trees and earlier nightfall, I’m also more likely to want the comfort foods of my childhood. Being Filipino, or “Pinoy,” I didn’t grow up with grilled cheese or mac and cheese like my American-born peers. Instead, I had my mother’s island cooking, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. A mix of different cultures (Chinese, Spanish, even Indian), Filipino cuisine has a wide range of flavors, from savory to sour.

That said, my favorite dish was (and is!) lumpia, the Pinoy version of egg rolls: A simple mix of ground protein (see note), celery, carrots and onions wrapped in gossamer-thin rice paper and deep-fried to a golden brown. It’s almost childlike in its simplicity, and yet that is precisely why it is so comforting. The delicate crunch is a time warp to third grade, when I brought lumpia to share with the class on my birthday, while the other kids brought cupcakes. A simple meal at home always paired the egg rolls with a heaping portion of rice and Thai chili-sauce, sometimes banana ketchup, both found in Asian specialty stores.

Note: Though pork is traditional, my family has found that turkey is not only a lighter alternative, but also stays moist and crispy longer. 

Lumpia, Filipino Egg Rolls Recipe

Servings: 15-20 (2-3 pieces/serving)
Calories: 110 per serving
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Total Time: 50 min

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (for browning)
  • 2 cups vegetable oil (for frying)
  • 1 lb lean ground pork (or ground turkey)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion , finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk , finely chopped
  • 2 carrots , finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (optional)
  • 1 package rice paper egg roll wrappers
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup water (or 1 egg wash), to seal wrapper

Directions

1. Place large skillet over high heat, and pour in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Cook pork or turkey, stirring frequently, until browned, about 5 min. Remove protein from pan and set aside.

2. In the same skillet, cook garlic and onion until onions are softened. Stir in the browned protein, carrots, celery, and celery leaves. Season with pepper, salt and soy sauce (if desired). Remove from heat, and set aside until cool enough to handle.

3. Place two heaping tablespoons of the filling diagonally near one corner of each wrapper, leaving a 1 1/2 inch space at both ends. Fold in the ends of the wrapper, then fold the side along the length of the filling. Roll wrapper tightly along this length. Once near the end of a roll, moisten the exposed of the wrapper with water or egg wash and seal the edge. Cover the rolls with moist paper towel or dish towel to retain moisture. Once all lumpia is wrapped, use kitchen shears to cut rolls into 2-3 inch long pieces.

4. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat, add oil to 1/2 inch depth, and heat until 350 degrees. Slide 3 or 4 lumpia into the oil. Fry the rolls for 1 to 2 minutes, until all sides are golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Note: Wrapped lumpia can be frozen for up to one month in the freezer, making it a perfect dish to cook in batches for dinner tonight and at a later date in the week. Enjoy lumpia with a sauce of your choice; Thai chili sauce, banana ketchup, Sriracha and even Heinz ketchup are all favorites in my home.

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