I am married to someone who was in the Navy for a little over 20 years. That means I have logged a lot of travel miles, packed a pagillion times, lived at five different duty stations, lost and gained an array of different kinds of friends along with their native food cultures. I think I stumbled on to the most wonderful group of women across the country when I joined The Navy Wives Clubs of America. This is a group of women whose husbands are either active duty or retired military. They are united by that common bond. I can’t remember exactly how I found my very first group in Horsham, PA, but it was where my very first experience happened with friends intermingled with food.
Since the NWCA is a 5013C organization, they are all about raising money for the 40 scholarships for deserving hard working college bound kids. There are clubs all over the United States and each club raises money that goes into the collective national pot. Raising money has to be fun and creative. Some had thrift shops, some have all food related fundraisers and others do air shows at their local military base. We all had a great time even though some times it was back breaking work.
When we were stationed at NAS (Naval Air Station) Memphis, TN, I learned how to make Lumpia. I can’t tell you how many thousands of Lumpia I have rolled the four years that I lived there. We did bake sales but the Lumpia sales had the sailors lined up in hallways everywhere waiting for the piping hot, hand rolled Filipino food. Lumpia is easy to make and very easy to eat as well as addictive, and I mean that in a good way…
Lumpia’s native origin is in China. Yes, China. Most people, who know about Lumpia, believe it was born in the Philippines. I am one of those people until this past weekend when I was doing research for this blog entry. I was a bit surprised! No matter where Lumpia was created they honed to perfection, it’s still great finger food.
Lumpia can be made with a variety of fillings, sizes and wrappers. This past weekend since I had bought Egg Roll Wrappers, I made mine with those. My preference is the actual Lumpia wrapper. They are thinner and are crispy perfection when fried to a golden brown. You will not soon forget that lovely crunch when you take your first bite.
To make Lumpia NWCA style, the club bought the ground beef and all the members brought in the rest of the fillings needed. We usually did onions, carrots and green bell peppers. I can’t remember if we used soy sauce or corn starch but I know there are some recipes that use those ingredients as well as minced garlic and ginger. Some even use shredded potatoes to stretch the recipe.
All the vegetable ingredients need to be finely minced. A mini chop or a food processor works great and its okay if it’s on the mushy side. It makes it easier to roll. Chunky Lumpia is a bit of a challenge because it pokes through the wrapper.
Here is what I used and how I made the Lumpia. I hope that you try this. The ingredients are very common to any part of the country and even easier if you live near an Asian Market.
I used these ingredients that I had on hand; 1 white onion, 2 medium carrots, 1 red bell pepper, and the Egg Roll Wrappers. The vegetables were chopped up in the food processor one at a time.
The commissary like so many other grocery stores, never packages up an even pound of meat so this is about 1 1/2 pounds. The amount of beef or protien that you use doesn't really matter.
Here I am with a little log of the meat mixture that includes all the vegetables.
I just put the wrapper at an angle and then began to roll but only about 1/3 of the way.
After rolling, I folded the edges up sort of like a homemade envelope.
After you fold the ends up you just roll it up like this...
Doing three of four at one time makes the task go much quickier. After rolling the Lumpia, I put them in the refrigerator so the wrappers could stick to themselves on the seam side; about 30 minutes will do. At this stage if you don't want to cook the whole batch, you can freeze them. Put a piece of wax paper between the layers if you are stacking them. Fry them from the frozen state if you are saving them for a later date. They tend to get sticky if you thaw them out and are a mess to handle. They fry up great whether fresh or frozen. It doesn't take long and you will need to hang close to the stove.
I have used soy sauce with minced ginger and garlic as a simple dipping sauce but I really love Plum sauce. It's sweet and adds something wonderful to the Lumpia when dipping it.