Filipino lumpia are a spring roll type dish filled with vegetables and a tiny bit of ground beef. The black pepper, garlic and vinegar lumpia sauce puts them over the top!
If you’ve never tried Filipino lumpia before, you are soooo missing out! Especially when they are doused with a garlic, black pepper vinegar lumpia sauce while they are still piping hot! (Be careful as I’ve been called “Teflon Mouth” in the past. Lumpia are super hot when they come out of the pan–obviously!)
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How do I know about lumpia, you ask? Yes, I know, I grew up with Italian food in Scotland so how would I know anything about Filipino food? Well, we had Filipino neighbors living next door to us for a few years, here in LA.
The smells that wafted over our dividing wall were insanely enticing! I would always yell over the wall, “What are you cooking?” Which led to several cooking lessons for dishes like lumpia, pancit and adobo!
Lumpia are mostly vegetable filled, crispy rolls. (You could easily omit the beef and use vegetable stock to make them vegetarian and vegan.) Don’t ask me why they are so incredibly tasty as there’s really not much to them besides lots of veg, especially cabbage! I can eat about four, easily, doused with the vinegary lumpia sauce.
The wrappers made especially for wrapping the filling for Filipino lumpia or shanghai (another Filipino roll) are so different than any other spring roll wrapper I’ve used. They are light and crispy like spring rolls when cooked, but the wrapper is so easy to work with as it’s very stretchy and doesn’t tear.
I found lumpia wrappers in the frozen food section of a Filipino grocery store, but if you don’t have one near you, just use spring roll wrappers. Don’t use egg roll wrappers as the texture and flavor will be very different. This is the brand my neighbors used, however, I realized after I bought it that it has sorbitol as an ingredient. I’ll look for another brand next time.
This recipe makes enough for at least 30 medium sized Filipino lumpia, which is how many wrappers came in my package. Cut the ingredients in half if this is just too much for you to make in one go.
recipe slightly adapted from my Filipino neighbor’s mother (sadly, I don’t remember her name!)
- 1/2 lb ground beef (omit for vegetarian or vegan)
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 heads of minced garlic (yes, heads! It’s a lot of garlic)
- freshly ground black pepper (I use about a teaspoon, but you can use less)
- 1/3 cup (2 to 3 oz) chicken or vegetarian stock (my neighbor used chicken, but beef would make more sense as the meat used is beef)
- 1 1/2 large cabbages, shredded
- 2 large potatoes, grated
- 2 small Japanese yams or sweet potatoes, grated
- 2 or 3 carrots, grated or julienned
- (optional: cilantro) I can’t stand it, but it’s in the original recipe if you love it (I used a little parsley)
- Kosher or sea salt
- lumpia roll wrappers (or spring roll wrappers) – make sure they are defrosted
- oil for deep frying (I used sunflower with a little olive oil)
Garlic and Black Pepper Vinegar Sauce
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 cup (4 oz) white vinegar (if you are near a Filipino store, the vinegar that my neighbor used is “sukang maasim” Datu Puti brand
- black pepper
Make the Lumpia Sauce
Combine all three ingredients. Put as much black pepper as you like, but if you think it’s enough, it probably isn’t. My neighbor used a lot of black pepper in the lumpia sauce.
Make the Filling
In a very large sauté pan or wok over medium high heat, sauté the ground beef in a little oil. After a few minutes add the onions and the garlic.
Continue to cook for about 5 or 6 minutes, then add the ground black pepper and stock. Next, add all the grated vegetables, except for the cabbage, and stir well. Keep cooking for a few more minutes.
Next add the cabbage, and cook until it’s cooked through, but not soft. (Add the cilantro or parsley if you’re using it.)
Wrap them Up
Allow the filling to cool before filling the wrappers. Here is how to fold them so that the filling doesn’t escape. Have a little bowl or ramekin of water nearby to seal them in step 5.
- place some filling below the middle part of the wrapper placed with a point towards you
- fold the bottom up onto the filling
- fold the left and right sides on top of the bottom fold
- making sure the filling is tight against the bottom, start rolling away from you, tucking in any part of the wrapper that wants to go its own way
- dampen the top edges of the wrapper
- finish rolling the lumpia and press gently to seal the end
If you have a helper, it’s a big plus as someone can fry the lumpia while you wrap them. You don’t want to make all of them and then fry them as the dampness of the filling will seep into the wrapper and you’ll have a terrible mess in your pan (ask me how I know)!
Repeat as needed to use the rest of the filling.
Fry them Up
Heat the oil and test it with the edge of one of the lumpia. It should start bubbling immediately. When the oil is hot enough, start frying a few at a time.
Fry them until they are golden brown, trying to only turn them once. Remove from the oil (drain well) and place on a paper towel lined plate or platter.
For me, there’s no waiting to sit down to eat these beauties–I eat them while I fry more. They’re that tasty!
Eat them Up!
You’ll have to forgive me as I didn’t get a photo of the inside of these to show you. I rushed when I was finished frying them. On the day that I made these, there was a fire on the mountain across the street from my house, so I brought most of the Filipino lumpia to the firefighters. I wanted them to have them while they were still warm.
To serve the lumpia with the sauce, first take a bite, then pour a spoonful of the vinegar lumpia sauce directly into the open end. This way, you enjoy the garlic, black pepper and vinegar throughout the lumpia. If you dip them into the lumpia sauce, it doesn’t work as well.
Hopefully, you’ll try making this version of Filipino lumpia, as there are probably hundreds of thousands of variations of this recipe, if it’s anything like other ethnic home cooking. If you do, please come back to let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you! Tell me if you love the lumpia sauce as much as I do, too!
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Garlic and Black Pepper Vinegar Sauce
Serving Size: 2 lumpia
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 251 Total Fat: 10g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 51mg Sodium: 172mg Carbohydrates: 23g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 3g Protein: 17g
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