Lumpia are best eaten fresh out of the fryer – a few moments after cooling – and dipped in sweet chilli sauce. Bite into the pastry and you’re met with an audible crunch. It's followed by the reveal of a steaming hot pork filling, encased with finely chopped vegetables and aromatics.
When I was young, I'd forage through the pantry for after-school snacks. I loved having something to munch on while I watched cartoons on the couch. I always craved something crunchy, deep-fried, moreish and easy to eat with my hands; spring rolls ticked all those boxes.
I could smell a spring roll cook-up as soon as I walked through the doors: there was a distinct aroma of fragrant oil and deep-fried pastry. My mum cooked the spring rolls in small batches, stacking a mountain of golden treasures on a nearby plate.
Once the spring rolls were no longer a finger-burning temperature, I'd grab enough to fill a bowl. On the couch, I'd unapologetically double-dip the lumpia into sweet chilli sauce and admire the loud crunch of each bite.
Sometimes I’d help my mum wrap the spring rolls – a joyous activity. I'd use lightly whisked egg to seal the folds, so the wrappers didn’t fall apart when we dropped them into the oil to fry.
The pork filling is my favourite, but for my brother, we made a vegetarian version – subbing out pork with cabbage, mushrooms and vermicelli noodles. Other times we’d make a sweet version with banana and jackfruit: a Filipino treat known as turon. My mum and I would chat, wrap and repeat, it was lots of fun. We had some of our best conversations – chatting about food while cooking was a great way to learn from one another. I especially loved hearing my mum’s stories about when she was young and living in the Philippines. Her childhood was so different to mine and I found out new things all the time.
I’ve carried the tradition of making spring rolls into my adult life and usually have a batch in the freezer ready to fry whenever I feel peckish. They're a great appetiser for a barbecue or an entrée at a dinner party but my favourite time to eat them is after work, on the couch watching TV, happily dipping and crunching away. Some things never change.
Lumpia (Filipino spring rolls)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- ½ carrot, grated
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 500 g pork mince
- ½ tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ cup spring onions, thinly sliced
- 1 pack small spring roll wrappers
- 1 egg, lightly whisked
- 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- Sweet chilli dipping sauce, for dipping
- Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and garlic and fry for a few minutes until the onion is translucent.
- Add the pork mince and cook for five minutes or until the meat starts to brown.
- Pour in the soy sauce and add the salt, black pepper, garlic powder and spring onions. Cook for another two minutes, then let the mixture cool for a few minutes.
- To fill each spring roll, position a wrapper with the point facing towards you like a diamond. Place roughly one tbsp of mixture, in the shape of a sausage, in the middle of the wrapper. Roll the bottom corner up, tucking it over the mixture. Take the right side and fold it in towards the middle, roll the spring roll over once, then tuck in the left side towards the middle. Brush the top corner of the wrapper with egg and roll the spring roll all the way over. It should resemble a small cylinder shape. Continue filling the spring roll wrappers, one at a time, until the pork mixture is finished.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a small, deep pan and fry the spring rolls for approximately 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Stand for a couple of minutes to cool and serve with sweet chilli dipping sauce. Enjoy!
This vegetarian version of the Filipino national dish is made with mushrooms, which give it a meaty texture and soak up all the delicious sauce.