The first time I heard the term “lumpia,” I thought it was a quirky insult. As in, “yo mama’s so lumpia…” and fill in the blank. The real insult is that lumpia aren’t well known throughout the US to begin with. Culinary trendsetters keep proclaiming that Filipino food will be the next big craze, year after year, but I just haven’t seen it take hold as promised. While you can’t walk a full city block without passing at least one pizza parlor or sushi bar, you’d be lucky to stumble across a single Filipino restaurant in an entire metropolitan area.
What gives? Why aren’t kids begging their parents for sizzling platters as a Friday night treat? Where are all the long-simmered stews and punchy, vinegar-spiked sauces? So many of the classic staples share Malaysian, Indonesian, Indian, Chinese, Spanish, and even American influences, so why don’t they translate the same way overseas?
Lumpia should be considered the gateway dish, an easy introduction to this true melting pot of flavors. Like common spring rolls or egg rolls, the concept itself is highly flexible. Fillings can be either sweet or savory, bundled together in thin wheat wrappers, and served either fresh or deep-fried. Let’s be real though: The best, and most popular sort are fried to crispy, golden-brown perfection, and dunked into a sour, salty, and savory dip of vinegar and soy sauce.
This particular recipe comes from Chef Reina Montenegro of Nick’s Kitchen, one of the very few vegan Filipino eateries I know of, boasting two locations in San Francisco proper. Traditionally, the most popular sort of lumpia combines vegetables like bean sprouts, string beans, and carrots with cheap cuts of meat, but you’d never miss the animal addition here. Mushroom powder makes up for the umami essence in spades, and honestly, any filling would be delicious once anointed with bubbling hot oil.
Take a bite while the rolls are still steaming hot, caramelized exteriors instantly shattering upon impact, and you’ll immediately understand the appeal. You can eat with your hands, call it a snack or a meal, and easily convince picky children to eat a rainbow of vegetables.
If this is your first introduction to Filipino cuisine, welcome to the party. Next up should be Chef Reina’s famous, unbelievably eggless tofu sissig silog for breakfast,… If I could ever needle that secret formula out of her. You work on those lumpia, and I’ll work on that subsequent recipe.
- 2 Tablespoons Neutral Oil
- 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1 Medium Yellow Onion, Finely Diced
- 1 Cup Shredded Carrot
- 1 Cup Green Beans, Julienned
- 1 Cup Jicama, Julienned
- 2 Cups Green Cabbage, Shredded
- 2 Cups Soybean or Mung Bean Sprouts
- 2 - 3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Vegan Oyster Sauce
- 1 Teaspoon Mushroom Powder
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 25 - 30 Wheat Spring Roll Wrappers
- 2 - 3 Cups Neutral Oil, for Frying (Enough to Cover)
- 1 Cup Soy Sauce
- 1/4 Cup White Vinegar
- 1 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1 Tablespoon Diced Yellow Onion
- 1/8 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
- To make the filling heat the oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and saute until aromatic; about 1 minute. Add all the vegetables and stir-fry for about 3 minutes, until tender. Mix in the soy sauce, vegan oyster sauce, and mushroom powder. Cook for another minute or two to allow the flavors to meld, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and cool completely.
- To assemble the rolls, place about 2 tablespoon of the filling in the corner of one wrapper. Roll the corner with the filling (spreading it a little) towards the middle. Fold the sides inward to seal, then continue to roll until you have about 2 inches left of the wrapper. Using your finger, brush the edges with a little water to seal.
- Heat the frying oil in a deep pot with high sides to 350 degrees. Fry the spring rolls in batches, no more than 3 - 4 at a time, to avoiding overcrowding. Cool for 3 - 5 minutes or until evenly browned all over. Place the cooked lumpia upright on a paper towel-lined colander, to ensure proper draining.
- Meanwhile, for the dipping sauce, simply mix everything together.
- Serve lumpia hot and dip to your heart's delight.
Leftover filling can be served over rice as part of a meal. Add baked or sauteed tofu for a classic stir-fry dinner.
Adapted with permission from Plant Based Filipino Comfort Classics: A Recipe Ebook Teaser by Reina Montenegro
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 255Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 43gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 589mgCarbohydrates: 134gFiber: 24gSugar: 2gProtein: 31g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.