As one holiday ends another holiday is coming up, and that means more food! Growing up, New Year’s Eve always involved a very elaborate dinner spread, including some type of pancit (noodle) dish (to represent a long and happy life in the new year), twelve types of fruit (one for each upcoming month), and always Filipino Lumpia.
This stuff is basically the food equivalent of crack. You go in thinking ‘ok, I’ll take two pieces.’ Then inevitably you go back for a third and fourth, no big deal. But before you know it you’ve eaten at least a dozen of them, and you’re left wondering what just happened. If you’ve had Filipino Lumpia before, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t had them, don’t judge until you’ve been there :)
No surprise, my mom made legitimately the best lumpia I’ve ever had, to this day. My aunt helped me recreate my mom’s recipe by reminding me of all the ingredients she used (thanks Tita Nang!). I don’t think I’ll ever make them as good as she did, but these are a close second and that’s a win in my book!
Make sure to serve these with sweet chilli sauce – it’s a must-have so don’t even try skipping it. There are several brands in the international aisle of every grocery store, but this is the one I usually get from the international market:
While Lumpia are very easy to make (there are basically 2 steps to assembling them), it’s a bit time consuming to roll them. But I swear they’re worth it! It just makes me appreciate all the times mom made these so much more knowing how long it takes to make them!
You should be able to find all these ingredients at any international market – where we live there are H-Marts and Coco’s Foods, both of which have all of these ingredients. If you don’t have an international market nearby, you can find canned water chestnuts, oyster sauce, and sweet chilli sauce in the international aisle at your local grocery. (If you can’t find oyster sauce, you can substitute with soy sauce.) You won’t find these specific “Lumpia Wrappers” but you can substitute with any spring roll wrappers, which all grocery stores have (usually in the refrigerated part of the produce section).
Step 1: Chop all the vegetables (garlic, onion, carrot, and water chestnuts) very finely and add them to the ground pork, egg, oyster sauce, and black pepper in a large mixing bowl. Combine ingredients thoroughly, using your hands.
Step 2: Roll!
Fill a small bowl with water (more on this in a bit).
Take out a wrapper, then spoon out one very heaping Tablespoon of filling (I did between 1 1/2 Tablespoons to 2 Tablespoons). Evenly spread the filling across the bottom third of your wrapper using your hands, making a straight line but leaving a half an inch of wrapper exposed on each side:
Dip your fingers into the small bowl of water and then dab your fingers all around the wrapper – the water will be the glue to keep the wrapper together. You’ll need to dip your fingers into the water bowl at least twice to get all the edges wet.
Then roll the bottom piece of wrapper towards the top, covering the filling. Next fold the left and right sides towards the center:
Now, tightly roll towards the top of the wrapper. You may have to add a bit of water to the edges to make it easier to roll and keep the wrapper together.
After a bit of time you get a tower of lumpia…YES!!!
To cook them, add about half an inch of vegetable oil to a frying pan or cast iron skillet. Heat over medium-high heat for at least 5 minutes – it needs to be very, very hot. When ready, carefully add the lumpia one at a time to the oil. Fry for about 4 minutes, then flip. Fry for another 4 minutes until golden brown. Make sure to pay attention while they’re cooking so they don’t burn. Drain on paper towels.
Resist the urge to shove one in your mouth when you take them out of the oil. They will be HOT. I’ve burned the roof of my mouth once or twice before, trust me on this one. Cut them into smaller pieces for easier consumption :) And of course, serve with sweet chilli sauce.
- 2 lbs ground pork
- 1 medium onion, finely minced
- 1 medium carrot, finely minced
- 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 8oz can water chestnuts, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 1/2 Tablespoons oyster sauce (or soy sauce if you can't find oyster sauce)
- 1 egg
- 2 packages paper thin Lumpia wrappers (or Spring Roll wrappers), thawed
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Sweet Chilli Sauce
- In a large bowl add the first eight ingredients: ground pork, onion, carrot, garlic, water chestnuts, black pepper, oyster sauce, and egg. Mix together thoroughly using your hands.
- Fill a small bowl with water.
- Take out one wrapper and spoon a heaping Tablespoon (I use between 1 1/2 and 2 Tablespoons) of filling. Evenly spread the filling across the bottom third of your wrapper using your hands, making a straight line but leaving a half an inch of wrapper exposed on each side.
- Dip your fingers into the bowl of water and then dab your fingers all around the wrapper - the water will be the glue to keep the wrapper together. You'll need to dip your fingers into the water bowl at least twice to get all the edges wet.
- Roll the bottom piece of wrapper towards the top, covering the filling. Then fold the left and right sides of the wrapper towards the middle. Finally, tightly roll towards the top of the wrapper.
- You may have to add a bit of water to the edges to make it easier to roll and keep the wrapper together.
- Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
- To cook, add about half an inch of vegetable oil to a frying pan or cast iron skillet. Heat over medium-high heat for at least 5 minutes - it needs to be very, very hot. When ready, carefully add the lumpia one at a time to the oil. Fry for about 4 minutes, then flip. Fry for another 4 minutes until golden brown.
- Drain on paper towels. Serve with sweet chilli sauce for dipping.
- This recipe will make about 40 pieces (which can be cut in half for serving) depending on the size of your wrappers and how much filling you use for each lumpia.
- Lumpia is perfect for freezing and frying later. Just store in tupperware, separating multiple layers of lumpia with parchment or wax paper to keep them from sticking to each other. If you cook them after being frozen, be extra careful when putting into the hot oil as they will likely pop. Make sure to have a cover ready when you put them in. If you have a deep fryer, this is the easiest option.