Serious Eats contributor Marvin Gapultos didn't always appreciate or know how to cook his family's Filipino cuisine. But, as he writes in his new cookbook, The Adobo Road, once he left home, he began craving his mother's and grandmother's dishes.
Lumpia, or Filipino spring rolls, were one his most frequently requested dishes when visiting his mother, and they're one of the first things he learned how to make.
These fried rolls are filled with moist ground pork, carrots, peas, and bean sprouts. Fish sauce adds a layer of salty complexity, but otherwise these are simply straight-up, easy-to-eat, fried goodness. Cooking the filling ahead of time and letting it cool and drain before wrapping keeps the rolls from sogging out and leaking into the hot oil, and Gapultos's freezing directions make the rolls easy to prepare and serve whenever a lumpia craving sets in.
Why I picked this recipe: I couldn't pass up the Gapultos family signature lumpia recipe.
What worked: Everything from execution to taste was spot on with these rolls. They disappeared from the table in minutes.
What didn't: No problems at all.
Suggested tweaks: You could use just about any ground meat (or tofu, if you must) in place of the pork here, but they'll taste best if the meat is well laced with fat. Vegetables are also relatively interchangeable, but they should be in small shreddy pieces.
Excerpted with permission from The Adobo Road Cookbook: A Filipino Food Journey--From Food Blog, to Food Truck, and Beyond, copyright 2013 by Marvin Gapultos. Published by Tuttle Publishing, a division of Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- 2 tablespoons high-heat cooking oil, plus more for frying
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound (500 g) ground pork
- 1 tablespoon ﬁsh sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup (70 g) grated carrot
- 1 cup (70 g) mung bean sprouts
- 1/2 cup (65 g) frozen peas
- 25 square spring roll wrappers (8 x 8 in/20 x 20 cm), thawed
- Water, for sealing the spring rolls
- Garlic Vinegar Dipping Sauce, for serving
- Pineapple Sweet and Sour Sauce, for serving
Heat a large wok or sauté pan over high heat until a drop of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Swirl the oil into the pan and then add the onion and stir-fry until the onion wilts and begins to lightly brown, 2–3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic just begins to brown, 1–2 minutes. Stir in the ground pork and cook for 1 minute, using a spatula or wooden spoon to break the meat into small pieces. Add the fish sauce, black pepper, carrot, bean sprouts and peas and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are tender, 3–4 minutes.
Transfer the cooked filling to a fine-mesh sieve set over a large bowl and set aside. Draining the filling helps to prevent soggy spring rolls, allow the filling to drain and cool completely. After the filling has cooled, discard any liquid that has accumulated in the bowl and then transfer the filling into the same bowl.
To roll the lumpia: Place 1 spring roll wrapper on a clean, dry work surface so that one corner of the wrapper is pointing at you (positioned like a diamond, rather than a square). Place 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling just under the midpoint of the diamond, closest to the corner pointing at you.
Take the corner closest to you and roll it up and over the filling, until half of the wrapper remains. Fold the left and right corners of the wrapper over the filling. Using your fingers, or a pastry brush, dab the edges of the wrapper with water, and then continue to roll the lumpia toward the final corner at the top.
Place the finished lumpia aside, underneath a moist towel, and continue rolling until all of the filling has been used. (To freeze the lumpia, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the freezer until completely frozen. Transfer the frozen lumpia to a large resealable food storage bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.)
To fry the lumpia: Fill a large frying pan with at least a 1/2 in (1.25 cm) of vegetable oil. Heat over moderately high heat until the oil reaches 350°F (175°C) on a deep fry thermometer. Alternatively, you can drop a small piece of lumpia wrapper into the hot oil; if it sizzles and immediately begins to brown, the oil is hot enough and ready for frying.
When the oil is ready, fry the lumpia in batches, being careful to not overcrowd the pan. Fry the lumpia, turning occasionally, until golden and crisp, 3–4 minutes total. If frying frozen lumpia, add 1 minute of cook time to each side. Transfer the fried lumpia to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Serve with Garlic Vinegar Dipping Sauce or Pineapple Sweet and Sour Sauce.