Fresh Vegetable Rolls aka Fresh Lumpia

When we kind of get tired of meat or fish or taking a break from carb-laden pasta, noodles or bread; we turn to fresh vegetable rolls whether it’s the Vietnamese version or the Filipino-style more popularly known as fresh lumpia.  Lumpia is a gathering of fresh vegetables sautéed with tofu or chicken or pork or shrimp (or all of the above if you’re feeling indulgent) then encased in crepe-like wrapper served with a special sauce then topped with ground/crushed peanuts and garlic. Some do not like the wrapper and eats this naked and ridiculous as it may sound, I have a friend who hates veggies but loves my sauce and the wrapper.

It is preparing all the ingredients that take long especially when you have more than four vegetables in the mix and you’re serving an army. But it cooks really fast so it is a matter of choosing the vegetables with similar cooking time and you can just dump them all together in a wok, allow the natural juices to render and the steam will eventually do its  work.   The way my mom does it is really labor intensive.  She would cook each separately, like making jhap chae and just toss them all together so people wonder how come all the vegetables are cooked to perfection.

But even as the veggies are crunch-perfect, it’s still the sauce that can make or unmake it.  The sauce should be the right blend of salty and sweet with a little kick from garlic and the consistency can’t be too thick or thin bordering on runny.  I have adapted the sugar caramelization aspect my mom does when she makes estofado as the starting point of my sauce plus all the juices/broth rendered from the vegetable filling.  Trust me, there will be enough especially when you use a lot of vegetables like in my case.  My mom would push all the veggies to the side of the wok so the liquid will ooze to the middle and that’s the cue.  Now, I just transfer the cooked veggies to a colander to collect my prize for the sauce which has all the flavors needed to make the sauce even better.  The separation also prevents the vegetables from cooking further so it’s like hitting two birds with one stone.

Ah, you may say so much ado about lumpia but that is the essence of cooking.  It can be easy or difficult or it could require patience or attention to the smallest details to come up with a dish to please.  With that said, shall we commence?
This is how I made this version or you can check a previous  lumpia post

For the wrapper:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tbsp cornstarch
3 extra large eggs
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
3 cups water

Separate eggs
Whisk the whites in a separate bowl until frothy
Lightly beat the yolks in another bowl then combine with the whites
Sift together flours in a mixing bowl
Make a well at the center and pour beaten eggs, water and oil
Whisk together until smooth
Let stand for 30 minutes before using
Heat a non-stick pan over low heat
Pour a scant 1/3 cup of batter into the pan, swirling to evenly coat.  Cook one side for 2 minutes or until the crepe pulls away from the sides of the pan.  Using a spatula, flip the crepe over and cook the other side for 20 seconds.  Stack the cooked crepes in a plate; each one separated with wax paper.

There’s no need to grease the pan when using a non-stick Teflon pan
Make sure to stir the batter before each use- the oil has the tendency to separate from the batter and will result in uneven consistency
For the filling
1 package Chinese sausage- sliced thinly
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chayote, julienned
2 cups carrots, julienned
2 cups green beans, sliced diagonally and thinly
4 cups bean sprouts
2 cups sweet potatoes or regular potatoes, julienned and fried separately
1 lb lean pork, boiled and browned separately
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
chopped cilantro
Freshly cracked black pepper
ground/crushed roated peanuts for toppings

Heat oil in a wok over medium heat- just enough to wet the pan
Add the Chinese sausage- allow rendering fat and brown lightly
Add onion and cook until translucent followed by the garlic, sautéing until it’s fragrant
Add the cooked pork and toss together followed by the soy sauce and freshly cracked black pepper.  Continue sautéing for about a minute
Add the chayote and green beans and toss together.  You should hear the sizzle as it cooks and natural juices are starting to develop
Add the carrots after a minute and toss together.  Cook for 3-5 minutes then add the bean sprouts, the sweet potatoes and chopped cilantro and cook for another 2 minutes. The sprouts cook fast so remove the pan from the stove.  It will continue to cook and you want to retain its crunch.
Transfer to a colander to drain and collect the broth for the sauce
I regret that I did not take step by step pictures of making the sauce but to make it:

Lumpia Sauce

3 cups water
1 cup granulated white sugar
¼ cup cornstarch stirred in ½ cup water
Generous pinch of red pepper flakes (only if you want some kick)
Soy sauce for color
2 tbsp crushed and chopped fresh garlic

In a sauce pan over medium heat, whisk the sugar in half a cup of water until fully dissolved
Stir until it simmers and caramelizes
Add the water, soy sauce and red pepper flakes if using
Add in the reserved broth from the cooked vegetables
Bring to a boil and taste if it needs more sweetness or a little more soy sauce
Stir in the cornstarch mixture and continue stirring until the sauce thickens to your liking  
Add in the garlic and transfer to a serving bowl
To assemble the Lumpia:
Place a wrapper on a plate and scoop 2-3 tablespoons of the vegetable filling at the center in a straight line.  Add more depending on your desired size as long as the crape is big enough to wrap it.  Fold the sides over the filling and seal.  Pour sauce on top and sprinkle with ground/crushed peanuts.  Serve and enjoy!

You may use lettuce leaves as bedding for the filling.  I did not have any so I used a sprig of cilantro for each lumpia. 
Yummiest ever!


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