I can remember as a child sitting at the table helping my mom make lumpia. I would help with separating the shells and let me tell you that was no easy feat! The shells are paper tissue thin! What makes lumpia unique is that it is mostly meat versus mostly vegetable that you would find in spring rolls or egg rolls. This is a long process so it is something I only make every few months. The good news is that it makes a lot! So it will last a couple of months! There are a gazillion different recipes for Lumpia but this is how my mom (who is 100% Filipina) taught me to make it! I am sure her recipe has a slight American influence!
Let’s start with the lumpia wrap. When I say “paper tissue thin” I think that is still an understatement! It is a very delicate wrap.
When I was a child, they sold it as one solid frozen package of wraps. We would set it on the counter to thaw out and then painfully separate each wrap. I would say about 10% of the wraps would get tossed because it would just rip trying to separate it. However, the lumpia wrap makers made it easier over the years! Now you can purchase the lumpia wraps all ready separated! There is a thin plastic sheet between each wrap! The bad news, you get less wraps. The package has only 30 wraps in it where I believe the solid frozen chunk of wraps had 50 wraps in it. Considering a portion always rips and gets tossed in the 50 count wraps package, I figure the 30 wraps package is still a great deal! Also, it is only $2.95 for the 30 wraps! How much did you pay for that one egg roll? LOL
Again, the right soy sauce makes the world of difference in this dish. We stick to our usual which is Marca Pina Soy Sauce. One, it is freaking cheap! A wine bottle size costs $1.95! We love this one because it is flavorful! Yes, it has that salty goodness to it but it isn’t overwhelmingly salty . . . it is just right!
So let’s get started!
3 Packages of Lumpia Wraps
1/2 cup of diced onions (the regular blog followers know that I just remove my previously diced onions from the freezer)
1 clove of garlic, minced or 2 teaspoons of World Spice Minced Garlic (we prefer World Spice in almost all of our recipes)
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1/4 cup of Marca Pina Soy Sauce
4 lbs of ground beef
2 cups of cole slaw veggies (contains shredded cabbage and carrots, found near the bagged salads)
1 egg white
Lay lumpia wraps on the counter to thaw out to room temperature (takes only about an hour). I just go ahead with the rest of this recipe and by the time I get to needing the wraps, they are thawed out enough to use.
Chop down the coleslaw veggies into smaller pieces. Normally, we would put this in our food precessor and let the food processor slice it up more but we couldn’t find it. Things just magically disappear in our house all the time, lol. That’s ok though because my Grandad had given us this most awesome cutting board and blade. The solid wood block is concaved in the middle. We put the veggies into this well and rock the blade back and forth over the cabbage and carrots to mince it up. Set the minced up veggies aside. You can also flip the wood block over and use the flat piece to cut on to. We absolutely love this wood block and blade set, it is amazing! Of course, I should say the hubby loves it . . . I don’t play with sharp items because of my irrational fear of knives and my history of self-inflicted wounds, lol (if you’ve been following my blog, this makes complete sense, lol).
In a wok or in our case since we don’t own a wok, a large chicken fryer (a large and deep frying pan) add the diced onions, garlic, vegetable oil and soy sauce. I used to have a wok, an electric one at that and it too disappeared somewhere in the Pack household, lol. I like kitchen appliances, all of them, so much so I had too many so I think the hubby made them “disappear” but won’t own up to it, lol. Cook the onions and garlic over medium heat until onions are semi-translucent.
Add the ground beef. Fully cook the ground beef. Be sure to crumble the beef into tiny pieces and stir well while cooking to ensure the meat is covered in the onions, garlic vegetable oil and soy sauce. I find it easier to allow steam to help cook the meat and will cover the pan with a lid. Drain all the liquid from the meat once fully cooked and return it back to the same wok or pan. Place back onto the stove over the same medium heat.
Place the minced cabbage and carrots in the wok or pan that has the cooked meat in it. Give it a good stir and cover with a lid. Steam the veggies for approximately 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and transfer the meat and veggies to a super large bowl. Leave the bowl on the counter to cool down (approximately 1/2 an hour) uncovered. You want to remove the meat mix from the wok or pan because the meat will continue to cook since the metal is hot and the veggies will wilt too much.
After the meat mix has cooled down, place the egg white from one egg in a small dish. Whisk it up a little with a fork. Cover a large cookie sheet with foil. Take 4 paper towels (still attached to each other) and run it under water. Wring it out just enough that it isn’t dripping but still wet. Fold the paper towels at the middle seam to create a hinged sandwich effect (see photos). Remove one package of lumpia wrap from the box and plastic. Place the lumpia wraps between the wet paper towel sandwich you just made. The wraps are so thin that they dry out fast unless kept in a moist environment.
I set up an assembly line in this order: bowl of meat mix, a large flat plate, the sandwiched lumpia wraps, egg white and prepared cookie sheet.
Separate a lumpia wrap from the plastic and lay it on your plate. Add a heaping tablespoon of the meat mix to one edge of the wrap. Fold in the wrap sides. Roll the wrap tightly and away from you almost to the other edge. Dip your finger in the egg white and run your coated finger along the edge of the wrap. Wrap the meat mix all the way up. The egg white serves as a “glue” to seal the edge. Place your wrapped lumpia on the prepared cookie sheet. Continue this process until all the meat mix is used. Try to keep the lumpias the same width and length for easier storing. It should make 90 lumpias.
Using freezer Ziplocs, place the lumpia in a single layer inside the bag. We use quart size bags and place 6 across the bottom (standing up) and 2 laying sideways for a total of 8 per ziploc. This is a perfect amount for our family of 4 allowing us two each. Also 8 makes for a great snack size! Your Ziploc should lay flat allowing you to stack several Ziplocs on top of one another. Label and date your Ziplocs and place it in the freezer. How long is it good for in the freezer? I really don’t know because ours is always gone within 2 months! I would guess it would be safe in the freezer for 6 months.
Cooking up Lumpia:
Remove a package of lumpia from the freezer. Open the Ziploc end (to allow steam to escape) and place the bag in the microwave oven. Heat on high for one minute. Yep, I said high. It will be warm but still easy to handle. Plus, it is completely unthawed in 60 seconds. You could also remove a package and allow it to thaw out in the fridge overnight or on the counter for an hour. For us though, when we want Lumpia, we want it NOW, lol!
In a frying pan, add a thin layer of vegetable oil (we use butter flavored oil, for that extra buttery taste). Heat oil over medium heat. Once oil is hot (a tiny sprinkle of water pops and dances on top of the oil) lay the lumpia in the oil. Pan fry until golden brown all around. Remember, everything is already cooked, you are just frying to make the wrap a golden brown color. Use tongs to turn the lumpia around in the oil. It fries up fairly quickly so watch it closely.
Remove the lumpia from the oil (allow excess to drip off) and lay on a plate covered in a paper towel (the paper towel will soak up even more of the excess oil). Allow to cool. Just know the ingredients inside will be smoking hot even after the wrap is cooled enough to handle so give it a few minutes to cool down to spare yourself a burnt tongue! They go super well with our Pancit Canton!
I have made hundreds of these through the years, possibly thousands. Folks eat it differently. After being pan-fried, some like to dip it in different Asian sauces. Our Aunt Angela actually likes to dip it into sour cream (which is pretty good actually). I can tell you, lumpia will be nothing like you have ever tasted before and I really don’t know anyone who has tried it that didn’t love it! Lumpia is also Spencer approved (as he smiles with his mouth full for the camera, lol)!