Chinese Lumpia : Wonderfully Delicious
Chinese new year + Chinese Lumpia = family bonding. I remember having chinese lumpia whenever it is Chinese new year at my Guama's place (grandmother). And I remember my dad making this at home as well. No matter how hard and time consuming it is, we would have lumpia just like our regular dish.
Our family version of lumpia is very simple yet laborious. It is a mixture of savory fillings which mainly consist of vegetables like cabbage, carrots, baguio beans and garlic leaves (if available). Instead of meat, we add tokwa as protein. We cut them into thin short slices, cook the vegetables one at a time, place them all together in a large pot and simmer for about an hour. You read it right, about an hour!!
I have been wanting to make this dish but did not have the opportunity. My brothers and sisters have their own family and most of them live out of the country/town. Making Chinese Lumpia is more fun if family members or friends are there to make the process memorable. The opportunity came when a friend mentioned about making lumpia. The next thing we knew, we were already planning how we are going with the preparation and cooking given the limited time. Some vegetables were cut one day ahead, other ingredients were bought on the day itself. All of us have our designated work.
I was so focus in recalling the procedure and finishing the task at hand that I did not consider to include this in my blog. It was only when another friend suggested to take a picture that the idea came through. Since no pictures were taken, other than the finish dish, I made the whole process again at home for the love of my blog : )
In my parents' home, we cut everything by hand. We want to keep the attractive texture, aroma and flavor of the lumpia intact as much as it can. The food processor, no matter how many blades it may come with, often doesn't cut it. Pete Snaith, cooking and knife skills instructor and co-founder of Culinaria Cooking School in Vienna, Va., shared that cuts affects texture, which some food experts believe affects flavor. --or at least our perception of flavor. According to "Bill Fuller, corporate chef of the Pittsburgh-based big Burrito restaurant group "Flavor is the taste of what is in your mouth, but it is also partly textural. He also believes that cuts can make certain fruits and vegetables smell differently. That is something that cuts can do. They add that flavor and texture. For a more scientific explanation, click this link.
We simmer lumpia fillings for about an hour. Simmering involves cooking with little amount of water at a low heat. The pot is covered, trapping the steam and retaining its flavor. It is a hybrid of boiling and steaming. Simmering the vegetables for about an hour allows the different flavors to blend together. Pour water a little at a time. Make sure to mix them up ones in a while to avoid the veggies from sticking at the bottom of the pot.
It seems that the art of making lumpia is dying. We live in a fast paced world where we want everything instant. It is easier to buy fresh lumpia than make one, right? But we are missing out on the more important essence of making lumpia, and that is love.
Chinese Fresh Lumpia
2 pcs. carrots, cut into short thin strips
2-4 blocks tokwa (depends on the size)
1/2 kilo baguio beans
1 pc. cabbage
lettuce (Green Ice)
peanut powder with sugar
Cut carrots, tokwa and cabbage into short thin strips. Sliced baguio beans and garlic leaves thinly.
Heat oil in a wok over low heat, add cabbage and cook until soft.
Add salt, stir and pour on a big pot.
After cooking each vegetable, wipe the wok with a tissue towel to remove residue or scrape with a rubber spatula.
Do the same for carrots, baguio beans, tokwa and garlic leaves. Cook separately. Remember to season each one. Place in a pot together with the cabbage.
Mix them all up until well incorporated. If there is no liquid, add a little water and let it simmer in low heat for about an hour. Stir once in a while to avoid sticking at the bottom of the pot. When done, let it cool.
To assemble: Place lumpia wrapper on a plate, put lettuce on top. Make sure to remove excess water, we don't want to tear the wrapper. Spoon in the vegetable filling, top with wansuy, peanut powder and if you prefer add chopped raw garlic.