Every summer when I was growing up, my grandma would come down to our house and visit us for a couple of weeks. She grew up in the Philippines and knew all of the best Filipino recipes. She’d cook for us all of the time and we indulged in every single bit of it. Her most famous Filipino recipes were adobo, pancit, and our favorite, lumpia.
She made what we called “big” and “small” lumpia. Her small lumpia were tiny rolls filled with ground beef and her big lumpia is similar to a spring roll, with vegetables and a little bit of meat. I always preferred the big lumpia, but those were a bit more time consuming. She’d make the big ones just for me and I’d eat every single one of them.
Two years ago my grandmother passed away. It was a devastating loss for our family. I’d never experienced death before in my life and although I was heartbroken to not have her in my life anymore, I made a promise to keep her spirit alive within our family. Whether it was through card games of gin rummy that she loved to play (and cheat at,) or trying to perfect her famous Filipino dishes that she never seemed to have a recipe for, she just winged it.
Last week, we did just that. When we were at my parents house I told my mom that I wanted to make the big lumpia. We’d made the small lumpia several times since my grandmother’s passing, but never sat down to take the time to make the big ones.
My mom gathered all of the ingredients and, just as my grandmother did with us, the kids sat down at the table and she taught them how to make the big lumpia. This might sound weird, but I felt my grandmother there with us as we rolled those lumpia. I’d hear her tell us, “too much water honey” or “be careful not to rip it Lauren.”
I told the girls how I used to do just what they were doing when I was there age. I hope they cherish these moments just as much as I did.
And grandma always thought you were never too young to start learning how to make lumpia, so Macks got in on the fun.
While grandma never had a recipe for her lumpia recipe, we did the best we could with what we remembered and I wanted to share this very special recipe with all of you. This is something that is so near and dear to my heart and I hope that if you do make them (and I promise you, you will want to make them) you think of my grandmother Pearl when you do.
Here’s what you need:
- 1 head of Chinese Cabbage (shredded)
- 1 head of Regular Cabbage (shredded)
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 1/2 cup green onions (chopped)
- 1/2 cup long green beans (chopped)
- 1 cup onion
- 3 tablespoons garlic (minced)
- 1 pound ground pork
- salt and pepper to taste
- dash of soy sauce
- Spring roll wrappers
- vegetable or canola oil
- small bowl of water
While your chopping up the first five ingredients, fully cook the ground pork and set aside. Once you are done with that, grab a big pot and saute onions and garlic until clear.
Put on medium heat and cover, stirring occassionally. Cook for 30 minutes or until cabbage is soft. Drain well. Add salt and pepper to taste as well as a dash of soy sauce and mix.
Once the cabbage mixture has cooled, grab the spring roll wrapper and get ready to roll!
Grab one wrappers and put it in the shape of a diamond in front of you. Put a wet paper towel over the other wrappers so that they don’t dry out.
Take a spoonful of the cabbage mixture and put on the bottom of the wrapper.
Roll the bottom part up one and take the water and lightly wet the two (horizontal) sides of the lumpia wrapper.
Fold the sides in so that they stick (if they don’t stick, use more water.) Wet the top corner.
Roll the remaining part of the lumpia until complete (if it doesn’t stick, use more water.)
There is no wrong or right size for the lumpia. They all still taste delicious!
Once you are done rolling, heat up the oil and put the lumpa in until the wrapper turns a golden brown color.
Set on a paper towel to soak up the extra oil and let them cool.
We always make the lumpia with my grandmother’s famous sweet and sour sauce, but don’t even ask me how to make that because no one in our family has really perfected that and it takes a whole lot of standing by the stove and mixing things and tasting until you think you have the perfect combination. But of course what I think taste like grandma’s sweet and sour sauce tastes completely off to someone else in my family. I’ll perfect that recipe one day so I can teach it to my children and continue grandma’s legacy, just as she would have wanted me to.
For now, let’s just enjoy this lumpia!