Filipino food has an interesting blend of influences from throughout its history. You get empanadas and paellas from the time when it was under Spanish occupation, you get bibingka from Indonesian influences, and you get a TON of recipes that were influenced by trade and cultural exchanges with China. One prime example of this Chinese influence is lumpia.
Lumpia is transliterated from the Hokkien Chinese word meaning “soft cake.” These egg roll-like snacks are wrapped in a thin pastry made of flour, water, salt, and sometimes eggs, and are often fried. The fillings can range from savory to sweet, each one being just as tempting as the last. (Seriously, try making lumpia stuffed with banana and chocolate sometime. That’s as decadent as a dessert can get.)
For this recipe, I’ve gone the savory route with a rich beef and carrot filling. You can use pre-cooked ground beef for this, but if you want to keep it traditional, you’ll want to keep the beef raw up until you fry the lumpia. (Plus, I’ve found that using raw beef makes it easier to form the lumpia, anyway.) If you don’t have easy access to an Asian market that sells lumpia wrappers, egg roll wrappers are much more widely available, and they work great!
Lumpia are typically presented as a snack or an appetizer, but they’re so rich and filling that you could easily serve them as the entire meal. If you want to add some Southeast Asian flair to your menu, give this a shot!
Filipino-Style Beef Lumpia
- 1 medium carrot, diced small
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced small
- 1 green onion, chopped
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 2 TBSP soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 TBSP brown sugar
- 1 lb egg roll wrappers
- Water to seal
- Oil for frying
- 2 TBSP sesame seeds
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- A pinch of red pepper flakes
In a sauté pan over medium heat, cook and stir the carrots until tender. Add in the yellow onion, and continue cooking until the onion is translucent. Stir in the green onion, and let cool. Stir the vegetables gently with the ground beef, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar to combine, then refrigerate for at least an hour.
Lay the egg roll wrapper flat in a diamond shape. Scoop about 2 TBSP of the filling onto the wrapper, about an inch away from the bottom corner. Fold the bottom corner up towards the top corner, then roll it back slightly to pack the filling tightly. Fold the side corners together, dab the top corner with water, then roll the egg roll up to the top corner and seal. Repeat until all the wrappers are filled.
Pour about 1/4 cup of oil into a large sauté pan, and place on medium-high heat. Once hot, place 5-6 lumpia in the pan at a time. Cook and occasionally turning for about 5 minutes, until evenly golden brown. Remove from the pan, let drain slightly, and serve immediately with sauce.
To make the sauce, place a small, empty saucepan over high heat for a minute. Once hot, toss in the sesame seeds, remove from the heat, and toss the seeds to evenly toast them (be careful not to burn them!). Add in the garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, and the red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then cook for a minute before removing from heat and pouring into a serving bowl.
Makes about 20 rolls.