FILIPINO FRESH VEGETABLE LUMPIA with SQUASH
It was always part of my kitchen duty as a child, to put the lettuce leaf in the center of the crepe-like “lumpia” wrapper. With trembling little hands, I gingerly set the single lettuce leaf right in the center. Later, when I grew older, this task got upgraded to spooning the vegetable filling carefully on top of the lettuce leaf, making sure not to overstuff it. And if I was good at what I did, then I got to crush the peanuts that went on top of the veggies.
Once I was done filling the lumpia wrapper, Mom would carefully wrap the entire thing in a perfect roll, making sure to tuck the ends inside. I knew I had done a good job when Mom proceeded to wrap the lumpia roll with a sheet of wax paper, identical to the size of the wrapper. If I did a perfect job filling the lumpia, my heart swelled with pride. Some days, I wasn’t so lucky though. I overloaded the filling, till the whole vegetable roll swelled, its filling fell out on the sides,and the thin wrapper burst and broke. Those broken rolls were set aside, to be eaten later, but never to be served to guests.
As I grew older, my kitchen responsibilities grew. Later on, I was tasked with making the sweet gravy or what Filipinos call “paalat” (translates to “something salty”). Cooking the gravy with its combination of broth, sugar and soy sauce was easy. Once the cornstarch slurry was added, and the gravy thickened, I knew from the sweet soy scent that this was going to be quite a feast.
The Filipino Fresh Vegetable Lumpia is often considered fiesta food. The “Fresh Lumpia”,as it’s called, is a vegetable roll with a thin, crepe wrapper. The wrapper encases a mixture of stir-fried ingredients, with more vegetables than meat. There is also little pork, chicken or shrimps. It is served with a sweet, dark sauce, garnished with peanuts and minced garlic.
For as long as I remember, my parents always had fresh lumpia whenever they had guests. It was very festive-looking . And although its ingredients were affordable, it was the process of making it that made it seem so special.
The vegetable lumpia is also versatile. There are some veggies in the filling which are a mainstay, but other types are allowed. That’s why when SQUASH was picked by our monthly bloghop group as the main ingredient this November, I just knew I had to make some “fresh lumpia” with it.
Nowadays, my lumpia-making skills have graduated to nearly mastering it. It is also one of my most favorite Filipino vegetable dishes. When we go out to Filipino restaurants, I always make it a point to order fresh lumpia, and I never ever get tired of it.
“Can you make this vegetable lumpia for me on my birthday?” my husband asked, as he happily chomped away on the crisp lettuce that was part of the vegetable filling. He was enjoying every morsel, the crunchy garbanzos, crushed peanuts on layers of cubed carrots, potatoes, squash and green beans. It was FRESH VEGETABLE LUMPIA night and we were enjoying it at dinner like it was the first time we’ve ever had it.
FILIPINO FRESH VEGETABLE LUMPIA with SQUASH
*Makes 14 to 16 pieces
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 whole onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
¼ lb. ground pork
¼ lb. shrimps, peeled, deveined and chopped
1 Tablespoon annatto seeds pre- soaked in ½ cup warm water
1 and ½ cup broth
1 bouillon cube, chicken or vegetable
1 cup cubed carrots
1 cup cubed potatoes
1 cup cubed squash
1 cup chick peas (or “garbanzos”)
1 cup sliced green beans
1 and ¼ cup coarsely chopped cabbage
½ cup crushed peanuts, unsalted
¼ cup fried garlic bits, for garnish
14 to 16 pieces lettuce leaves
1. In a large skillet, over medium heat, add the vegetable oil. When skillet is hot enough, sauté the garlic, onions, celery till soft.
2. Add the ground pork and mix well with the sauteed ingredients. After about 6 minutes, when the meat turns from pink to brown, add the shrimps. Stir fry and blend.
3. Separately, drain and save the water from the pre-soaking annatto seeds, making sure to crush the seeds with a fork so that the orange color and annatto flavors stay in the liquid. Throw away the seeds. Add the annatto liquid to the skillet.
4. Add the broth and the bouillon cube. Blend the liquids well.
5. Add the carrots, potatoes and squash into the skillet. Cover and let the meat and vegetables cook for about 10 minutes.
6. Finally add the green beans and cabbage. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 6 minutes more, then turn off so that the cabbage and beans do not wilt. Set this vegetable filling aside, while preparing the wrapper and sauce.
FRESH LUMPIA WRAPPER
- Recipe from “Memories of Philippine Kitchens” by Amy Besa/ Romy Dorotan
¾ cup cornstarch
½ cup flour
1 pinch salt
1 and ½ cups water
1. Whisk the cornstarch, flour and salt together in a bowl.
2. Add the water a little at a time, while whisking.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix well. Cover this with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
4. When ready to cook, prepare a non-stick small skillet by placing it over medium heat. Put some cooking spray on the skillet. Once it is hot enough, pour 2 tablespoons of the batter into the skillet.
5. Tilt the pan all around to spread the batter. This should look like a round,thin, crepe-like wrapper. Cook the wrapper for about 30-40 seconds. When there are no more liquids on the surface, take the crepe wrapper out of the skillet, using a non-stick turner. Place the wrapper on a flat plate. Stack the wrappers on one another as you go along cooking.
NOTES: This is the best Lumpia Wrapper recipe I’ve tried. I’ve experimented with other recipes, including mine. But this one is the winner!
FRESH LUMPIA SAUCE
½ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 cups broth
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cornstarch + ¼ cup water
1. Mix the sugar and the soy sauce in a small bowl. Blend this well with the broth and salt. Put this mixture in a small saucepan, over medium heat.
2. Allow the sauce to boil. Once it boils, slowly add the cornstarch+ water mixture, stirring constantly while doing this. The sauce will get thicker.
3. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from fire and set aside till ready to serve.
4. Garnish top of sauce with crisp fried garlic bits.
TO ASSEMBLE FRESH VEGETABLE LUMPIA:
1. Spread one piece of Fresh Lumpia WRAPPER on a plate.
2. In the middle, place one lettuce leaf. Over this, spread out some 2 tablespoons of the vegetable filling. Make sure to add a little of everything, including meat and shrimps.
3. Top this filling with a sprinkling of crushed peanuts.
4. Wrap the lumpia like you’re wrapping a burrito, tucking in the bottoms so the filling does not fall out.
5. Arrange the fresh vegetable lumpia on a long platter. Garnish the top of each with some Fresh Lumpia Sauce, and a few crisp chopped garlic pieces.
COOK’S COMMENTS: There is nothing like the fresh, homemade lumpia egg wrappers. But if you’re pressed for time, you can buy store-bought wrappers from the Asian groceries, in the freezer section. And if none of these are available, it is also delicious to simply enjoy the vegetables and meat stir-fry with the sweet, dark sauce. This is what’s called “Lumpiang Hubad” ( Naked Lumpia).
Posted under Cooking, Events Holidays, Featured, Queen's Thoughts by Elizabeth Q.