Hot and crispy fried spring rolls filled with seasoned ground pork and dipped into a sweet and sour sauce–lumpiang Shanghai, or lumpia, is my go-to snack at any Filipino party (or a boodle fight) and it never disappoints.
What is lumpia?
My girlfriend’s family throws a lot of parties (par for the course with many Filipino families though) and lumpia is always the first tray of sides to run out.
Lumpiang Shanghai, also called lumpia Shanghai, or lumpia for short, is a version of Filipino spring rolls with a moist meaty filling of ground pork, garlic, onions, carrots, and soy sauce, and an extra fried outer layer.
Types of lumpia
Lumpiang Shanghai is one of many different types of lumpia in the Philippines. Here are some different varieties:
- Lumpiang sariwa: lumpia wrapped with a fresh spring roll wrapper and includes veggies, meat, and lettuce.
- Lumpiang isda: fried lumpia made with fish.
- Turon: a dessert styled fried lumpia that includes sliced plantains, jackfruit, and brown sugar.
For the most part, you can assemble many types of lumpia in the same way: gather your ingredients, mix your fillings, and roll your wrappers. The one we’ll make in this recipe is meat heavy–prepare yourself.
Assembling & taste testing
Gather your ground pork, garlic, onions, carrots, seasoning, and soy sauce in a large mixing bowl. Thoroughly mix the ingredients. You can use a spoon, but I prefer using my hand because it’s basically like using five spoons.
One of the hard parts about making fillings with meat is that it’s hard to properly make sure you’re seasoning correctly. To test this before you finalize the wrapping, you can take a ¼ tsp size of filling and cook it in your microwave for about ten to 15 seconds. This should properly cook your meat and allow you to taste it and adjust your seasoning before it’s too late to turn back.
Spring roll wrappers
One of the most important parts of lumpia is the spring roll wrapper. Note that spring roll wrappers are different from egg roll wrappers because they do not contain eggs in the dough. You need one that is thin enough to give you the right crunchy exterior when deep frying, but also strong enough so that it can hold the fillings together and not break when you are rolling.
While I’ve tried making my own spring roll wrappers from scratch, I highly recommend buying them from the store because they save time and are relatively cheap in price. I grew up with the Spring Home brand spring roll wrappers, and I have fond memories of peeling them for my mom growing up, for the many, many family parties, and even some for her restaurant too.
- Buying: You can find spring roll wrappers at your local Asian grocery store, but these days you can also find them in many American grocery stores too. They’re typically in the freezer or fridge aisles. When you take them home, you can store them in the freezer to keep them fresh.
- Defrosting: When I’m ready to make lumpia, I place them on the counter to defrost for a couple of hours or in the fridge overnight. Make sure to not start peeling until your wrappers are fully defrosted or you may end up tearing several wrappers (also part of those fond memories).
- Peeling: To peel the wrappers, start at the corners of each layer and peel back slowly so as you don’t tear any part of the wrapper. I like to keep the peeled wrappers on a plate and cover them with a damp cloth so they don’t dry out while I’m peeling or rolling lumpia.
How to roll lumpia
Rolling lumpiang Shanghai is probably one of the easiest ways to wrap spring rolls (and varies from traditional spring roll wrapping) because you just need to follow the steps below:
Step 1. Take a spring roll wrapper and lay it on your surface. Add about three tablespoons of filling and form it into a horizontal long along the bottom half of your spring roll wrapper. Leave about half to one inch of space from the edge to the filling.
Step 2. Use your hands to form the filling into a log shape.
Step 3. Fold over some of the wrapper to keep the roll tight and start to roll slowly, making sure you don’t leave air bubbles.
Step 4. At about two inches from the top, add a small amount of egg wash to the top of the wrapper.
Step 5. Finish rolling it upwards and seal the roll tightly.
Step 6. Using scissors or a knife, cut the roll into thirds, about three inches long each
How to fry lumpia
Fill a heavy-bottomed pot with neutral cooking oil, like vegetable oil, about two inches from the bottom. Heat the oil to 375 °F and carefully place lumpia into deep fry for about three to four minutes each. When you take them out, the lumpia should be golden brown in color and crisp on the outside.
I like to use a thermometer and make sure it reads at least 165 °F to know that the meat is fully cooked. When they’ve finished, place them on a cooling rack lined with paper towels.
Storing in the freezer
If you want to make lumpia ahead of time, you can freeze them uncooked in a Ziplock bag. I like to arrange them in rows so they’re easy to remove. You can keep them in the fridge for at least a month in advance. To cook them, you can take them straight from the freezer to the fryer, just be careful putting them into the oil (the pieces of frozen water can cause a bit of a splash when it reacts to the heated oil).
Sides and dipping sauce
I like to eat these fresh to get the best crunch in every bite and dip them in sweet and sour sauce, our favorite is La Choy’s sweet and sour sauce. If you want to make a meal out of this recipe, just add a side of rice and some greens. You can refrigerate them in an airtight container and re-toast them in the oven the next day, too.
Is lumpia a Filipino food?
Lumpia is a Filipino spring roll that comes fried or with fresh wrappers. Depending on the variety of lumpia you are making, you can eat it as a savory or sweet food. It’s typically eaten with your hands or kamayan style.
What is lumpia wrapper made of?
Lumpia wrappers are spring roll wrappers made of flour, water, and salt. Although some store-bought brands may have additional ingredients to use as preservatives.
Can you use rice paper lumpia?
Traditionally lumpia is made with a spring roll wrapper that contains wheat flour, but if you want to have a gluten-free version you could use rice paper wrappers.
How do you make lumpia stay crispy?
Lumpia is best served fresh out of the fryer, but you can also use a toaster oven to crisp up your lumpia again. This is a great option if you have leftover lumpia in the fridge.
Lumpia Shanghai (Crispy Filipino Spring Rolls)
- 10 spring roll wrappers
- 1 egg
- neutral cooking oil for frying
- 1 lb ground pork
- 3 tbsp garlic minced
- 4 tbsp carrot minced
- 2 tbsp yellow onion minced
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- ¼ tsp ground pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- Defrost and un-peel spring roll wrappers. Cover the peeled wrappers with a damp cloth to prevent drying out.
- Combine all filling ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Take ¼ teaspoon of the mixture and cook in the microwave for about ten to 15 seconds. Taste this piece to make sure your filling is properly seasoned. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Place one spring roll wrapper on the surface. Add three tablespoons of filling and form it into a horizontal long along the bottom half of your spring roll wrapper. Leave about half to one inch of space from the edge to the filling.
- Use your hands to form the filling into a log shape.
- Take the bottom edge of the wrapper and fold it over the filling tightly. Continue to roll the wrapper upwards making a tight log.
- At about two inches from the top, add a small amount of egg wash to the top edge of the wrapper.
- Finish rolling it upwards and seal the roll tightly.
- Using scissors or a knife, cut the roll into three pieces, about three inches long each.
- In a heavy bottomed pot, add about two inches of oil and heat to 375 °F.
- Carefully add the rolled lumpias into the oil and cook for about three to four minutes each batch. They should come out golden brown in color with a crispy outside layer. Using a thermometer, they should measure at least 165 °F for doneness.
- Remove them from the oil and place on a paper towel and rack to remove excess oil.
- Serve as soon as possible with a side of steamed rice and a sweet and sour dipping sauce.