Lumpia - Filipino Spring Rolls

How to make lumpia

Eat in any Filipino's home, and there are a handful of dishes certain to be on the table. Pancit, fried rice, and chicken adobo are among the staples, but right alongside them is always lumpia.

Lumpia comes in may shapes and sizes, from super long and skinny to thick tubes. They can be served fresh, but most commonly they are fried and filled with either veggies, meat or both (although Turon are sweet versions filled with plantain and/or jackfruit.) I think Pork filling is the most common or traditional, but when I grew up, my mom always made them with ground beef. Like other family recipes, what you grew up eating sticks with you. Ground beef is what I know so ground beef is what I use. The only ingredient that can be tricky to track down is the lumpia wrappers. You can use spring roll wrappers, but I prefer to hit the Asian grocery and buy lumpia wrappers made in the Philippines.

Boozy Epicure's Lumpia Recipe
Making lumpia is simple, but cannot be described easily since it's done by feel. I know how much soy sauce to put in the filling based on how it smells, and that won't help you much. I've given you rough estimates and described the rolling process. It isn't hard, but it can be tricky until you get the hang of it. This should make about 30 lumpia. Less if you go heavy on the filling, more if you go light.

1 package lumpia wrappers (thawed)
1.5 lbs ground beef (I like whatever is leanest, these are going to be fried, after all)
1 egg
Soy sauce, to taste, from 2 tblsps to 1/4 cup (preferred brand: Silver Swan)
1 small onion or half a medium onion, finely minced (sometimes I grate)
1 medium carrot, finely chopped (you can grate this too)
Oil, for frying (I like grape seed oil, but vegetable or peanut works just as well)
Sweet & sour sauce (for dipping)

The first thing you want to do is make your filling. Mix the beef, egg, onion, carrot and soy sauce together with a fork or your hands. You want it well combined but not tough.

Take out your lumpia wrappers, grab a teaspoon and a small glass of water, and start filling/rolling. It's kind of like rolling really skinny and long burritos.

To fill/roll the lumpia:
Filled/rolled lumpia, waiting to be fried.
Place one wrapper on your clean work surface. Place 1-2  tsps of the beef mixture at the bottom and shape it with your fingers into a long log that stretches across the bottom of the wrapper, leaving about an inch empty at each end. Fold over each end to cover the filling and start rolling upwards, using a little water on your fingers to help you seal the very top. Place on a plate, seam side down and continue filling/rolling. From here, these can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated up to one day before frying, or frozen so you've got lumpia waiting to be fried whenever the mood strikes.

When you are ready to fry:
Preheat your oven to 250 F. If I'm making a lot of lumpia, I like to place a baking sheet with a wire rack on top in the oven so I have a place to keep the lumpia warm and crisp while I fry the next batch. If you are only frying a small amount, you can skip this step and place your fried lumpia on a plate lined with paper towels.

Fill your frying pan about an inch high with oil and preheat it to roughly 350 F. Once the oil is hot, add your lumpia, seam side down, in a single layer. Do not overcrowd the pan. Cook until golden brown on the first side then flip them over. I like tongs because this is hot oil and when I try using a fork or other implement, I end up splashing oil, making a mess and potentially burning myself. They are done when the outside is completely browned and the meat inside is cooked through. If you rolled them thin, this should only take 5-7 minutes per batch. If you made them fatter or overfilled your pan, it could take quite a bit longer. Once you've got some that look good, the best thing is to just cut one in half and see how well the inside is done. You don't want pink meat or gummy inner wrappers. Again, this takes a little practice but soon becomes second nature.

Lumpia frying in grape seed oil.
When they are done, place them on a paper-towel lined plate and serve with sweet & sour sauce for dipping. Yum!

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