“Little by little, day by day, what is mean for you WILL find its way”
The first time I ever had lumpia was at the Maui County fair. I still remember it as the best I’ve ever had—the crispy, thin wrapper shattered the second I bit into it, and the filling was so flavorful. If you ever happen to be in Maui at the beginning of October, I highly recommend you check out the fair, and wear your stretchy pants! While it’s easy to assume lumpia is Chinese because it looks a lot like an egg roll, it’s actually Filipino. However, it was introduced to the Philippines by Chinese immigrants, so there is a reason the two are so similar. As similar as they are, there is one main difference. Lumpia skins are paper-thin, while egg roll wrappers are usually denser, like wontons. Look for them in the freezer section at an Asian market. Fun fact: Not all lumpia are savory. Banana lumpia are also very popular in Hawaiʻi and usually made with small, tart apple bananas.
1 tablespoon neutral oil, plus more for frying
½ Maui or yellow onion, finely diced
2 pounds ground pork
1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
4 carrots, peeled and julienned
6 to 8 green onions, green parts only, chopped
4 ounces bean thread noodles, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, drained, and cut in half
2 tablespoons soy sauce (shoyu)
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
One 16-ounce package Chinese spring roll (lumpia) wrappers (about 30 wrappers)
Sweet chili sauce, for dipping (Mae Ploy brand preferred)
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil over medium heat until shiny and shimmering. Add the Maui onion and sauté until almost translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the pork and sauté until the meat is browned, about 3 minutes, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon as it browns. Season the mixture with the salt and pepper, add the garlic, and cook for a minute or two. Add the carrots and cook until they are tender, about 3 minutes. Add the green onions, bean thread noodles, soy sauce, fish sauce, and sesame oil and sauté for a minute or two more. Remove from the heat and let cool completely before using.
- While the filling is cooling, peel apart all the wrappers. Start by placing the stack of wrappers under a damp, clean kitchen towel, with another damp towel ready nearby. Peel off one wrapper, place the shiny side down, and cover with the other damp kitchen towel. Repeat until all the wrappers are peeled apart and loosely stacked under the towel.
- Place a wrapper, shiny side down, so that the two corners are pointing away from and toward you. Place 3 tablespoons filling near the corner edge closest to you, arranging the filling so that it forms a line perpendicular to the top and bottom corners. Roll the edge of the wrapper toward the middle, away from you, rolling until you reach about the halfway point. Fold both sides in, keeping everything as tight as possible, and continue rolling. Dip your finger in a small bowl of water and run it along the outer edge of the wrapper to seal it. Repeat until all the filling and/or wrappers are used.
- Line a large platter with paper towels and heat 1 inch of neutral oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it is shiny and hot. Fry the rolls in batches until golden and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Set on the prepared plate to drain. Serve warm with the sweet chili sauce.
Did you know?
In eastern Africa you can buy beer brewed from bananas