Lumpia are Filipino egg roll-style snacks that can be prepared with any number of different kinds of fillings, both savory and sweet. Introduced by Chinese traders some time during the precolonial period (between 900-1565 AD), the name is derived from Hokkien, a language that originated in southeastern China: âlunâ means wet, moist, or soft, and âpiaâ means cake or pastry. Since the word refers to a general category of foodâpastry wrapped around fillings of some kind and friedâlumpia are often referred to as âlumpiangâ along with some descriptor that indicates whatâs been stuffed inside. Lumpiang sariwa, for example, is brimming with vegetables; lumpiang togue is stuffed with beansprouts; and lumpiang pancit is filled with noodles. However, thatâs not always the case; turon, for example, is a sweet lumpia thatâs stuffed with saba bananas and jackfruit.
The recipe below is for lumpiang Shanghai, one of the most popular types, which is stuffed with a highly seasoned pork and vegetable filling. (The name is a bit of a misnomer, since this dish didnât come from Shanghai; rather, the name is simply indicative of its Southern Chinese origins.) Its popularity is pretty easy to explain, since it has a crispy, fried exterior, a juicy, meaty filling, and it works well with a variety of dipping sauces. Combined with its small sizeâyou can easily hold a few in your handâitâs the quintessential party appetizer. The one problem with lumpia Shanghai is theyâre easy to fill up on. Iâve warned many folks about eating too many and being unable to enjoy all the other food thatâs available.
Making lumpiang Shanghai is an act of love, which is another way of saying itâs fairly labor intensive and repetitive, an activity best split up between multiple people. My family would set up an assembly line: one person was designated the peeler, another the stuffer, and a third, the wrapper. The peelerâs job was to delicately detach each individual lumpia wrapper from a tall pile. The stuffer portioned the filling into each lumpia; a crucial job in which they carefully straddled the line between over- and under-stuffing. The wrapper, who typically had the most skill and experience since badly wrapped lumpia fall apart when fried, expertly wrapped each lumpia with the dexterity of an origami artist. I had the unfortunate job of being the peeler (a task commonly regulated to kids), which tested my patience and dexterity as a five year old. When the pile of torn lumpia wrappers was bigger than the pile of usable ones, Iâd get kicked out of the kitchen.
In this recipe, Iâve taken some of the guesswork out of the wrapping process by providing an exact amount of filling for each lumpia. And while thereâs no substitute for practice and experience, the directions for wrapping the lumpia should help you get started; youâll find yourself wrapping perfect lumpia that fry up juicy and crisp in no time.
Oftentimes, lumpiang shanghai are accompanied by a selection of condiments for dipping, which can include banana ketchup and spiced coconut vinegar. I think that lumpiang Shanghai are best served with agre dulce sauceâa mix of brown sugar, vinegar, banana ketchup, and chilesâas I find that the sweetness and sourness complement the crispy fried shell and the meaty filling.
For the Dipping Sauce: In a small bowl, stir together sugar, vinegar, ketchup, salt, and chiles until well combined. Taste and adjust to your preference by adding more sugar, vinegar, ketchup, salt, and/or chiles incrementally (remember, weâre going for a balance of sweet and sour). Set aside.
For the Lumpia Rolls: In a large bowl, combine pork, carrots, onion, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, and pepper. Using clean hands or a spoon, mix until well combined.
On a work surface, position one spring roll wrapper so it resembles a diamond with a point facing you. Measure 1 1/2 tablespoons (28g) of filling, then, using your hands, shape into a 4-inch long cylinder, and place horizontally in the center of the wrapper.
Starting with the point closest to you, fold the wrapper over the filling, tucking the point underneath the filling. Using your finger, moisten the left and right points of the wrapper with egg wash. Fold the left point towards the middle, fold the right point towards the middle, then roll tightly away from you, leaving about 1 inch of the top point exposed. Moisten the top point with egg wash, then finish rolling to seal. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
Heat oven to 200Â°F (95Â°C). Set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet and line with a double layer of paper towels. In a wok, heat oil over high heat to 375Â°F (190Â°C). Working in batches of 5 lumpia at a time, fry lumpia, turning occasionally with tongs, until golden brown all over, about 3 minutes; adjust heat as needed to return to and then maintain a frying temperature of 375Â°F (190Â°C). Transfer fried lumpia to prepared wire rack, then transfer to oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining lumpia.
Slice lumpia in half crosswise on a bias, transfer to a plate, and serve with dipping sauce alongside.
Cane vinegar is the most common Filipino vinegar. Itâs usually sold as white distilled vinegar (a spiced version, infused with onion, garlic, and chiles, is also available). You can find it in most Asian markets and online under the brands Datu Puti, Mama Sita, or Marca Pina.Â
You can find banana ketchup at Filipino or Asian specialty markets and online. In a pinch, tomato ketchup is an acceptable substitute.Â
Spring roll wrappers can be found at most Asian supermarkets. They are made with wheat flour and are often labeled as âspring roll pastry.â Chinese or Vietnamese wrappers will work as long as they are meant for frying. Do not use dried rice paper wrappers. If you cannot find square wrappers, round wrappers work well, too. To defrost the spring roll wrappers, transfer to the refrigerator the night before, or let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to using.
Make-ahead and Storage
The dipping sauce can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.Â
Uncooked lumpia can be frozen by arranging them side-by-side on a baking sheet, then sliding strips of parchment paper between adjacent rolls to prevent sticking. Freeze until firm, then transfer to a zipper-lock bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Fry frozen lumpia from frozen (frying time may double to about 5 minutes).