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Feli's Lumpia

The Washington Post, December 23, 2009


Filipino lumpia usually are rolled with a vegetable-and-protein filling, then fried to a shattering crispness. Washington cook Feli Orinion, a Filipino native, makes hers with a slight difference. Because they are easier to work with, she uses thicker wrappers than the kind made especially for lumpia. Wei Chuan super-thin spring roll shells are sold at some Safeway stores (in the freezer section) and at Danny’s Tindahan, 4115 Wisconsin Ave. NW (202-244-7221).

This recipe makes twice the amount of filling needed to roll 36 lumpia, and that’s a good thing. Freeze half, and the next batch of lumpia you make will come together in no time. Rolling them goes much faster with two sets of hands doing the work.

Keep the wrappers in the freezer until you're ready to use them.

The lumpia are best eaten hot, with a homemade dipping sauce or with a store-bought sweet-and-sour sauce such as LaChoy brand.

MAKE AHEAD: The cooked filling can be wrapped in plastic wrap, sealed in a resealable plastic storage bag and frozen for up to 1 month.

Makes 3 dozen, plus filling for another 3 dozen


For the filling For the lumpia For the sauce


For the filling: Process the following ingredients individually in the food processor until finely chopped, placing the ingredients in separate bowls as they are done: the carrots, to yield 2 cups; green beans, to yield 2 cups; celery, to yield 2 cups; onion, to yield 1 cup; cabbage, to yield 6 cups; sweet potatoes, to yield 5 1/2 cups; water chestnuts, to yield 1 3/4 cups; garlic, to yield about 2 tablespoons.

Heat 1/4 cup of the toasted sesame oil in a large, well-seasoned wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant but not burned. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until it has softened and picked up a light golden color. Add the cabbage and celery, tossing to incorporate; cook for 15 minutes, stirring often.

While the vegetables are cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring, until all traces of pink disappear. Add 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and a pinch of black pepper; mix well. Turn off the heat.

Add the sweet potatoes to the wok and cook for 10 minutes or until softened, stirring often, then add the carrots and green beans; cook for 15 minutes or until softened, stirring often. Add the cooked ground beef and its drippings, the remaining 1/4 cup of sesame oil, the remaining teaspoon of black pepper and the remaining 2 or 3 tablespoons of soy sauce (to taste). Mix well; if none of the ingredients are crunchy or firm, transfer the filling to a large colander and place a bowl underneath it to catch the draining liquid. (If the components are not of equivalent textures, cook until done to that degree.) Let cool almost completely.

At this point, wrap half of the cooled, drained filling in plastic wrap and place in a resealable plastic food storage bag. Freeze for up to 1 month.

While the filling cools, make the paste and prepare the wrappers for the lumpia: Heat the water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and increase the heat to medium-high; cook for a few minutes, stirring until the mixture has thickened just enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and transfer to a small bowl.

Open one package of the wrappers at a time. Separate them carefully, stacking them alternately as square and diamond shapes on a plate. Cover with a clean, damp dish towel until ready to use.

To assemble the lumpia, place 1 wrapper on the table or counter in front of you, with one of the corners pointing at you. Place a tablespoonful of the filling about 2 inches above the corner closest to you, spreading it into a mini log. Fold the corner over the filling, tucking it snugly against the filling so the corner lays flat.

Roll the filling twice, then neatly fold in the left-hand and right-hand sides of the wrapper so the remaining wrapper has two neat sides that are no wider than the beginning of the lumpia roll. Roll once, then dip your fingers into the cooled water-flour mixture and use them to dampen the remaining wrapper to be rolled. Roll the lumpia as tightly as possible, ending with the far corner of the wrapper. The lumpia should be about 4 inches long. Place the rolled lumpia in a single layer on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Repeat to use all of the wrappers and as much of the filling as needed, keeping the lumpia covered. If you need to stack them, place a layer of plastic wrap between the layers so the lumpia do not stick together.

When you have about a dozen lumpia left to roll, line a colander with several layers of paper towels. Heat the canola oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. When it is hot enough to make a piece of the wrapper crisp and brown within seconds, it is ready to use.

Fry about 5 lumpia at a time until crisped and browned, turning them with tongs as they cook. Each batch should take about 2 1/2 minutes. Use tongs to transfer the lumpia to the lined colander when they are done. Repeat to cook all of the lumpia.

For the sauce: Whisk together the garlic, vinegar and soy sauce in a small bowl. Taste and add the sugar and black pepper, if using. Serve alongside the hot lumpia.

Recipe Source:

From Washington cook Feli Orinion.

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