I love pritong lumpiang gulay. If given the chance I would eat fried spring rolls every day. In fact I did have a chance when I was in Hanoi with friends, and immediately had a no-regrets-no-lumpia-left-behind agenda on our one-week itinerary.
A snack staple
Spring rolls are fairly common in Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisines, along with their fresh counterparts. In the Philippines, pritong lumpia is a popular Filipino snack and street food, with three well-known variations.
Lumpiang Shangai has ground pork filling and is smaller and more slender, owing to its Chinese roots as dim sum. It is also commonly served during celebrations like birthdays or fiestas. The vegetable-filled versions lumpiang gulay and lumpiang togue (mung bean sprouts) are larger in size, and their humbler filling makes them a common street food.
It’s important to know that lumpiang gulay and lumpiang togue are not necessarily vegetarian or vegan. Sometimes the vegetables or sprouts are sautéed with ground pork, chicken, or shrimp. Wrappers are also typically made of just wheat flour, water, and salt, especially those sold in the street, but sometimes the wrappers are made with egg. It’s always best to ask the sellers.
Bumping up flavor with buro
One of my favorite ways of bumping up the flavor of my fried lumpia is by adding ferment to the vegetable filling. I especially like using chopped kimchi or burong mustasa to season the typical tofu and vegetable filling and add a bit more depth.
The lactic sourness from the ferment also takes the place of vinegar which is the condiment served with lumpiang gulay and togue. I usually dunk my fried lumpia in sukang Iloko or pinakurat so I don’t mind this lactic sourness. But if you want it milder, either use a young ferment or reduce the portion of fermented vegetables and add more tofu or vegetables. You can also use a sweet chili sauce as dip or serve it with a side of coconut-mango salad or pineapple and cucumber salad.
As mentioned in another post, cooking in high heat kills the live microorganisms in the ferment. But you will still get some of the benefits of fermentation like digestibility and better bioavailability of nutrients, and of course more fiber from the vegetables. We generally don’t mind cooking ferments for as long as we also eat them raw regularly.
Ingredients (yield: 4 to 6 lumpia)
- ½ cup burong mustasa
- 1 medium white onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 small carrot, peeled
- 1 pc sayote (or singkamas), peeled
- 1 small block of extra firm tofu
- Lumpia wrapper
- Cooking oil
1. Gently squeeze burong mustasa or kimchi to remove the juice.
2. Chop the onion and garlic. Shred or finely chop the carrot and sayote.
3. In a pan over medium heat, add oil. When oil is hot, add onion and cook until translucent.
4. Add garlic and cook for a minute or until fragrant. Do not burn the garlic.
5. Crumble the tofu and add to the hot pan. Cook until lightly browned.
6. Add the sayote and carrot. Season lightly with salt, and saute until the moisture has evaporated from the vegetables.
7. Remove the pan from heat, and add the burong mustasa or kimchi. Mix everything until well combined.
8. Add 1 to 1.5 Tbsp of your filling to the lumpia wrapper and roll following our illustrated guide. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
9. Fill your nonstick pan with about an inch of oil and turn heat on medium-high.
10. To test if the oil is hot enough, dip a wooden chopstick or skewer into the oil. If small bubbles form around the chopstick, the oil is hot. Do not go past its smoking point.
11. Carefully add two spring rolls. Fry them for 3 to 4 minutes, flipping them halfway until they are golden brown. Repeat with the rest of the spring rolls. Serve hot.
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