Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Winter Lumpia

Let's talk about lumpia (pronounced as loom-pi-yuh), which is a favorite among Filipinos. It is basically a deep fried spring roll filled with vegetables, some ground meat, and perhaps some shrimp. My mom makes the best vegetable and meat or shrimp lumpias. I have made those before too but just never blogged about it because the directions are quite tedious to write. Sorry… I can be really lazy sometimes.

One of these days, I will make the traditional lumpia recipe and share it with you all, but for now, I would like to introduce you to my winter lumpia. Hmmm... Weird, considering we don't have winter in the Philippines. But hey, I am in the US now and since I like cooking with seasonal ingredients, gotta use what's in season! So this winter lumpia showcases the gorgeous purple cabbage and parsnip and is backed by regular staples like garlic, onion, and bell pepper. Not the lumpia that I grew up eating (that's very special too and I promise to share it in the future), but something that I know my mom will be proud of when she tastes it.

Before I proceed to describe lumpia and how awesome it is, I want to make sure that you get the right wrapper. Most often, you can buy lumpia wrappers at Asian stores and they are usually refrigerated. Do make sure that the packaging says “Lumpia Wrapper” with the words "spring roll wrapper" in parentheses. You do not want to use egg roll wrappers, those are different!   

Lumpia requires a lot of preparation time and some affinity for dealing with grease and splattering. There's chopping involved, some stir frying, wrapping (which for me is the best part), and deep frying. Do not let all this daunt you though, please don’t! Once you taste it, you will know that it is well worth all the effort!

A good lumpia should have two main characteristics: it has to have a flavorful filling and a nice, crispy exterior. I love the flaky wrapper that gently crunches in your mouth. Each bite is a combination of that and the savory filling inside. The tenderized purple cabbage, which tastes bolder than its green cousin, and the earthy sweetness of parsnip go very well together. The combination becomes even better when doused with an Asian marinade then wrapped in a thin, flaky, egg roll that gets deep fried in hot, hot oil. It is a perfect winter appetizer... Earthy, savory, greasy, and just plain delicious!

There are many sauces that go well with lumpia and people prefer different sauces for various kinds of lumpia. Soy sauce and vinegar, sweet chili sauce, vinegar with salt and pepper, or ketchup. For this lumpia, I accidentally concocted a sauce that's absolutely great with it and I encourage you to try it too.

Be ready to read super lengthy directions. If you have no patience for the folding directions, just learn from the pictures. I just want to make sure that you produce a perfectly crunchy lumpia that you will love! 

Winter Fried Lumpia

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, sliced
1 lb cabbage (I used purple cabbage), sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of black pepper
1 parsnip, julienned
1/2 large bell pepper, julienned
1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

lumpia wrappers

In a small mixing bowl, stir together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and fish sauce. Set this marinade aside.

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, cook the garlic just until it turns a nice golden color. Cook the onion for about 3 minutes until it is almost translucent. Toss in the cabbage and cook for about 4 minutes until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add the parsnip and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the bell pepper and cook for a minute. Toss in the fresh parsley and add the sauce mixture. Cook while stirring often for 3 more minutes.

Turn off the stove and remove pan from heat. Move the stir fry to a large bowl to prevent from further cooking.

Put some water in a small bowl. This water will serve as your glue to help seal the wrapped lumpia. Place two large plates side by side. One plate is for wrapping the lumpia on and the other is for the finished product.

Place a lumpia wrapper on one plate. Scoop a generous spoonful of the filling and line it close to the bottom edge of the lumpia wrapper. Make sure to leave an inch of space on the right, left, and bottom edges so you can fold the lumpia wrapper over the filling. Fold the right and left side edges snugly, holding them down with your fingertips. Use your other hand to fold the bottom edge snugly over the filling. Roll into a log, making sure that the sides remain tucked in. Wet your fingertips with a little bit of the water and pat it on the flap to help seal the lumpia. Lay it on the other plate, flap side down to put weight on it so it doesn't unroll. Repeat the process and make as many lumpias until you run out of filling. See the pictures.

Before cooking the lumpia, prepare a serving plate lined with a paper towel or two to soak up the excess oil from the cooked lumpia.

Pour canola oil into a nonstick pan, just until it covers the entire bottom of the pan. When the oil is very hot, but not smoking, place 3-4 lumpias in the pan, depending on how big it is. Do not overcrowd, you want your lumpia to brown evenly and to be manageable when you start turning them. Cook each side for 1-2 minutes, depending on how fast the wrapper turns golden brown. Use tongs to carefully flip the lumpia. Keep a watchful eye especially after you have cooked a few batches because the oil tends to get really hot which causes the lumpia to brown faster. You may need to lower down the heat and add more oil when you are running low. When you add oil, allow it to heat up before cooking another batch. Otherwise, the lumpia wrapper won't turn out crispy. The sides and ends might not brown as well, so use your tongs to hold the uncooked edges down into the oil for a couple seconds to make sure the entire surface of your lumpia is evenly browned.

Spicy Lumpia Dipping Sauce

1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon chili paste
½ teaspoon ketchup
generous squeeze of fresh lemon

In a small bowl, stir the soy sauce, chili paste, and ketchup together. Squeeze a generous amount of fresh lemon juice to taste. The lemon juice works very well at cutting the oiliness of the lumpia.  

 A somewhat healthy pub food right in your own kitchen, Filipino style!


  1. I love lumpia SO much! I always requested my mom to make it when I was younger. When we had a Christmas party, I would bee-line straight to the lumpia and fill my plate. Yours looks fantastic too, my mom would have some competition!

  2. I love spring rolls and I am sure I would love these as well Margarita! they look divine!

  3. These look delicious! Will have to make some soon! Love the use of the current veggies available- it probably gives it a great (although different) flavor!


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