Are you Filipino? Do you make lumpia?
These are two questions that I get asked often by Americans. Years ago. I would feel offended by these questions. What do you mean do I make lumpia? I can make all kinds of things. Why does it have to be lumpia?
It’s not until this past several years that these questions no longer offend me. As much.
I can’t blame my American friends. We have been conditioned to think of people in terms of their stereotypes. I am Filipino. Therefore I make lumpia. I probably eat balut too. For those of you who are not familiar with balut. Balut is a fertilized duck or chicken egg with a nearly developed embryo. Boiled and eaten on the shell. And the answer to the balut question is NO. I have never eaten balut. And never will. No offense to those who eat them. Sorry. The mere sight of balut makes my insides shakes and grumble. As if it’s going to invert.
The truth is. I did not learn how to make egg rolls or lumpia until I was 19. When I meet my husband, my cooking skills were mediocre. I had to teach myself how to cook. Or watch others cook. And then practice what I had learn in my kitchen.
I had once used a blender to ground pork. And the blender started smoking. The motor burn out. I was 20. Young and dumb. I didn’t know I couldn’t use a blender to ground pork! I forget what it was exactly I was making. But I wanted to impress my husband, who was then my boyfriend.
To this day. He remembered the dish. He said it was good. And the blender? He remembers that too.
You’re probably wondering… What do you mean you didn’t know how to cook? You were poor and had no servants! So how could you not know how to cook? Being poor was exactly the reason. We were too poor. There was nothing to cook. I know how to cook rice. I learned that at seven. I know how to stew fish with salt and vinegar. I learned this at eight. But these were it. We did not have the luxury to cook and eat pancit or lumpia. We eat meat once every six months. If we’re lucky.
Though there were exceptions. I helped my mom make “sweets stuff” when I was barely nine. I was her little helper. Grating sweet potatoes and cassava. And rolling them in banana leaves. And then hawking them on the street until every one of the sweet roll is sold. Probably explains why I hate selling to this day.
The skills of rolling stuff come naturally to me. Rolling sweet potatoes and or cassava. Egg rolls. Lumpia. Sushi. And kimpap. A Korean dish that sort of like sushi. I suppose I could roll anything. My step mother-in-law was highly surprised when I easily caught on on how she made kimpap. And how at ease I was at rolling them. I didn’t tell her I’ve been rolling stuff since I was barely nine.
I was with my sister when I first saw how lumpia or egg rolls were made. She, and her friend, Ate Aida, would have a large tub of raw ground beef and finely chopped vegetables, and some eggs to bind them. And they’ll start rolling the mixture in lumpia wrapper. They’d do this on birthdays and special occasion. This was my first exposure in making lumpia.
You probably notice that I am using the terms lumpia and egg rolls interchangeably. That’s because the principles in making the two are the same. The only difference is the thickness of the wrapper. Lumpia wrapper is thinner and crispier. More delicate and tears easily. Whereas the egg roll wrapper is thicker and a lot easier to handle.
There are two types of lumpia: Fresh (spring rolls) and Fried (egg rolls).
Fresh lumpia or spring rolls are just what the name implies. The wrapper is not fried. It is filled with stir fried or fresh vegetables. And topped with a slightly sweet sauce. Health aficionados will almost always chose fresh lumpia over fried spring rolls.
The fried egg rolls are of course, fried. The vegetables are stir fried. Then wrap with egg roll wrappers. Deep fried at 350˚F for about 2 minutes on each side. Or until the wrapper is golden brown and crispy.
The secret in making egg rolls is in the filling. People have their favorite secret ingredients. Usually, a combination of meats, shrimp and vegetables.
What I made here are lumpia or egg rolls. And in my opinion, easy to make. I used vegetables that I like and quick to cook.
I hardly ever use bean sprouts in my egg rolls. That’s because my husband hates bean sprouts. And besides, beans sprouts produce too much liquid which makes the filling a bit runny. And this I do not want.
And the sauce is fresh from the bottle. Sweet Chili Sauce. Available in any Asian stores. You can make your own if you like. A simple mixture of vinegar, garlic, freshly ground black pepper, and a little bit of salt will do.
Egg rolls are best served immediately. While they’re still warm and crispy.
Here’s what you’ll need for this easy and simple egg rolls:
You can find these at any Asian stores. Or in Supermarkets. In the refrigerated section next to the produce department. And or in the freezer department.
And Sweet Chili Sauce for dipping the lumpia or egg rolls.
Once the prep work is done. i.e. chopping the onions, garlic and the vegetables needed…
You need to do the following:
Add one tablespoon first. Then taste. Add another if needed.
By this stage… the potatoes should be soft and mash easily. It should act as thicker or binder to the whole meat and vegetable mixture.
If the mixture contains a bit of a liquid. Sprinkle a a tablespoon cornstarch over the meat and vegetable mixture. And then stir to incorporate. Over medium heat. Stir for a few minutes.
How to roll the lumpia or egg roll:
Lay one wrapper flat with one corner facing you.
Lightly brush the folded corners and top wrapper with beaten egg.
And then continue to roll until you have a short cylinder.
Serve immediately. While warm and crispy. With a sweet chili sauce on the side for dipping.
Easy and Simple Egg Rolls
1½ pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
6 TBSPs. cooking oil – divided
1 large onion – chopped
4 stalks green onions – chopped
6 cloves garlic – smashed, peeled and minced
1 large baking potato – peeled and finely diced
3 large carrots – peeled and finely diced
3 celery sticks – peeled and finely diced
1 pound green beans – finely chopped
6 green or red hot chilies – finely chopped (optional)
1 TBSP. coarse sea salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 package Egg Roll Wrappers
Large egg + 1 tablespoon water – lightly beaten
Heat a large pot and add 3 tablespoons cooking oil.
Add ground beef and pork. Stir to break up into small chunks.
Add coarse sea salt and ground black pepper.
Stir and cook meat until gray. Keep stirring until most liquid evaporates and meat starts to sizzle.
If there’s too much liquid in the meat. Drain the liquid. And add a tablespoon of oil to the meat.
Add onions and garlic. Stir until onions are translucent.
Add the potatoes. Stir for a few minutes.
Add all carrots, celery, green beans.
Stir until vegetables are partially cooked, about 3 minutes.
Add green onions. Stir to combine.
Add soy sauce. Stir to incorporate.
At this stage, the potatoes should be soft and mash easily. It should act as thickener or binder to the whole meat and vegetable mixture.
If the mixture contains a bit of a liquid. Sprinkle a a tablespoon cornstarch over the meat and vegetable mixture. And then stir to incorporate, over medium heat. Stir for a few minutes.
Remove pot from the heat and cool.
How to Roll the Egg Rolls or Lumpia:
Separate the spring rolls wrapper one at a time. Cover them with damp kitchen towel to keep them from drying.
Using a large chopping board lay the spring roll flat. One corner facing towards you.
Scoop about two (2) spoonfuls of the meat and vegetables mixture into the spring roll wrapper. About 1½ inches away from the corner facing you.
Fold the corner facing you over the filling. And fold both left and right corners over the first fold. Forming an envelope.
Lightly brush folded and top wrapper with the beaten egg.
Roll and seal. Place egg roll seam side down.
Repeat the procedures with the remaining filling and egg roll wrappers.
How to Fry Egg Rolls or Lumpia:
Heat a deep skillet or frying pan and add 3 to 4 cups cooking oil. Heat the oil to about 350˚F. (Use a thermometer to make sure you have the correct temperature while frying.) The egg rolls should be fully submerged in the hot oil.
Fry egg rolls about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels.
Serve egg rolls immediately. While still warm and crispy. Have a small bowl of Sweet Chili Sauce on the side for dipping.
Tess’ Kitchen Secrets:
#1 – Since the filling has already been cooked. It only takes a few minutes to fry these egg rolls.
#2 – The finely diced potatoes serves as thickener and binder. Which makes for a crisper egg rolls.
Enjoy and Happy Cooking!