Monday, May 6, 2013

Lumpia, AKA using every pot and pan and utensil in the kitchen

Photo via Filipino Food Lovers
Some of you know that I am the child of a Filipino father and an American mother.  God bless her, my mother spent most of her early married life learning to cook Filipino foods, and I have many memories of her standing at the kitchen counter for hours, chopping and slicing and dicing veggies, hand grinding pork or chicken or beef (sometimes all three), using every pot and pan and utensil in the kitchen--and every bite was delicious.

One of my favorite memories is of watching her make lumpia wrappers.  She'd make a thin batter and use a pastry brush to paint a thin layer of it on a very hot skillet, then as soon as she put down the brush she'd peel away the batter layer which had already turned into the thinnest little crepe you've ever seen.  When she was done she'd have a stack of wrappers on a plate, ready for filling.

If you've never had lumpia, you would be forgiven for thinking they are just Filipino egg rolls.  However, you would also be wrong--very wrong.  They make Chinese egg rolls seem like a waste of time.  If lumpia are done right, they are so good you will knock down your own grandmother to get the last one.   But if they are done wrong, you will be reluctant to even feed them to your dogs.

In my opinion, the place they go wrong is not in the ingredients or the assembly, but in the cooking.  Pan frying is what messes them up.  They need to be fully deep fried in very hot oil, or they just end up gooey and greasy.  Gooey and greasy are not good eats.

Deep frying takes a lot of oil, and makes a mess, and then you have a mess and a lot of oil to deal with.  So I  just bake them.  They come out crispy and delicious, and I dare anybody to tell the difference.

Tonight is our weekly "UN meal", and tonight we're having lumpia.  If you don't feel like using every pot and pan and utensil in the kitchen and spending hours of chopping, slicing, dicing, and rolling, you can buy ready-to-cook lumpia in the frozen food section of most bigger international markets.  But do make them from scratch at least once in your life, so you can appreciate the wonder of having a packet full of them at your convenience.

My weekly menu plan and garden schedule are up--check the bar right under the blog banner.  To go with the lumpia we're having bilo-bilo, rolled in powdered sugar and eaten out of hand because coconut flavoring reminds me of suntan oil, which is also not good eats.  If I could find the rice noodles we'd have pansit bihon, but I suspect they disappeared in the Great Pantry Clean Out of 2012.


  1. I'll have to find some fish sauce so I can make pansit bihon! That looks like something my husband would really like.

    1. Hi Cynthia, for some reason I'm just now seeing your comment! I will be honest: I don't use patis (fish sauce). I can't bear the smell. As Alton Brown says, it is most useful when you want to enjoy the flavor of smelly socks. :)