Saturday, February 16, 2008

Comfort Food

I have adjusted pretty well to eating american foods in that, I don't have to eat rice in every meal, everyday anymore. But nevertheless, I gotta have my comfort food once or twice a week, at least. This means rice, or something else that's familiar to me.

So last night, I decided to do a dish that I grew up with. This dish is what we call "lumpia" (pronounced as loom-pya) in our vernacular, or a.k.a. spring roll to the rest of the world. This dish and "pansit" (Filipino noodles) are the staple of every Filipino party. Go to a Filipino gathering and chances are, you will find this dish served on the table.
In the Philippines, there are 3 kinds of lumpia - the vegetable lumpia (veggie spring roll), the lumpia shang-hai (meat-filled spring roll) and the fresh lumpia (veggie filled but using a crepe-like wrap). As you can see, this time I chose to do the the meat-filled spring roll.

I learned to make this at an early age and have made this with my mother a countless number of times with her in the past. For this version, here's my recipe:

Lumpiang Shang-Hai
1 lb ground meat (beef,pork,chicken,turkey)
1/2 lb shrimp
1 med onion, chopped
1 med carrot, grated
1 pc red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Dash of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsps black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 (16 oz) package spring roll wrapper
1-1/2 quarts canola oil, for frying
Cilantro (optional)

1. In a large bowl, combine the meat, carrot,onion, red bell pepper, garlic. Mix.
2. Gradually blend in the eggs, soy sauce, black pepper, salt and red pepper flakes.
I suggest you get down and dirty and mix with your hands. Do not overwork the meat though. Just mix until ingredients are evenly distributed.
3. Lay out the spring roll wrapper on a flat surface. Put a leaf or two of cilantro (optional)and scoop about 2 tbsp of the meat mixture place it down in the center of the wrapper. Pat meat to form it into a line. Make sure the meat is no thicker than your thumb.
4. Take the bottom of the wrapper (nearest you) and fold it towards the center.
Then take the left and right fold them towards the center as well. Roll it like you are making a cigar. Moisten the edge of the wrapper with a bit of water to seal. Repeat the procedure for the rest of the wrappers.
4. Heat the oil in a deep fryer or heavy skillet to 250-300°F. Fry 3 or 4 lumpia at a time so that you will not bring the oil temperature down too much. Lumpia will be cooked through when the wrapper is golden brown,about 4-5 minutes.
5. Cut in half and serve with a sweet and sour dipping sauce, or with vinegar.
Traditionally, the meat used for this dish is ground pork. But in an effort to somehow lessen the fat (because this is deep fried), I used ground chicken - but with a twist. Because chicken needs a lot of flavor, I thought of adding shrimp to the mixture.

This is a labor intensive dish. Rolling the wrap takes a long time, especially if you're making a bunch of them. So to free myself from all the chopping and mincing, I threw in all the veggie (garlic, onion, carrot, red & green bell pepper, red pepper flakes) and shrimp in the food processor for a few quick pulses. This would also make for the same texture as the meat which is important so that the filling cooks evenly.

And then for yet another flavor, I thought of laying a few fresh cilantro leaves down on the wrap with the meat before rolling each one up. Then as a side dish, I made an Asian salad which was inspired by Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa. I just took some elements from her salad and made my own from there :

Bean Sprout Salad
1 c fresh bean sprouts
1/2 c fresh shredded carrots
2 stalks spring onion, chopped s
1/2 c ugar snap peas, blanched in hot water for 1-2 minutes

1/3 c soy sauce
2/3 c vegetable oil
1/3 rice wine vinegar
1/8 tsp of ginger
1-2 tbsps sugar
salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, combine everything except for the oil. Mix. Gradually pour in the vegetable oil while whisking. (Pls. adjust the combination of the dressing according to your preference. All measurements are my estimations as I was just eyeballing everything. )

Toss vegetables with the dressing. Serve.

The lumpia dip is store-bought, my favorite sweet and spicy dip from Thailand.

Note: It is important to fry the spring roll in low fire (maybe medium-low heat) to allow for the cooking of the meat. If the heat is to high, chances are you'll end up with a burnt wrap and a half-cooked meat.


Anonymous said...

Mmm...Jescel, this looks so good! I love Asian food. It's absolutely my favorite.

Anyway, the Vday dinner went splendidly. I made filet mignon and potatoes au gratin and some rolls. :-) Alex LOVED it...which pleased me greatly, lol.

francisco said...

hey jescel, remember me its francisco. from mbc well no longer. Im looking for a new church and I heard you and joe are going to flamigo along with heredes, marcy, daniel brigham, chanti and some other friends. Im sorry we havent talked in a while and forgive me. Im currently looking for another church. and Im sorry to ask if snice you and joe know me and are uses to me if I can check it out with you guys. yes doral is too far and I still dont have car and afraid to drive. sorry forgive me. well Im wondering if I can go with you guys, you dont have to pick me up, I can just go to your place and well I can give you gas money if I have to. please. Mbc well complication happens and Im not really part of it now. please talk to joe but yeah nice food. I like it. if you dont wnat to do it and think Im just coming here, not talking to you in a long time and now Im asking for favors then I understand. but if yes, you can contact me at
or phone number 305 387-7592. ask joe please. I dont have his number and I used to call him and then you guys got busy and then went to the phillipines and I lost my cell phone. yeah. sorry.