Let’s face it, we have all had a spring roll or two in our lives. To be honest, I have yet to meet anyone that has anything bad to say about these crispy wonders. While the type of filling varies from country to country, the very best recipes have one thing in common: quality wrappers.
In the Philippines, these wrappers are called lumpia wrappers. This ingredient is very popular there because they have a wide range of dishes that call for it, like Lumpiang Shanghai, which is ground pork wrapped in lumpia wrappers and then deep-fried to crispy perfection. Molo soup, on the other hand, are round meat-filled dumplings boiled in a delicious beef broth.
They also have this dish called Lumpiang Sariwa, which is a medley of vegetables wrapped in lumpia wrapper and drizzled with sweet sauce and crushed peanuts. I was instantly hooked the first time I tasted it during a visit to the Philippines, and had to bring the recipe back with me so that I could have more of this great, healthy dish.
Making it can be quite a chore. I soon learned that the secret to this dish is to make a good quality lumpia wrapper. While there are store-bought lumpia wrappers in most Asian supermarkets, nothing beats making your own from scratch, as it means you can adjust the texture and consistency, depending on your personal taste.
So buckle up because this is going to be a fascinating culinary journey into the realm of lumpia wrapper making!
Making your very own lumpia wrapper is a relatively easy task, but there is still some science to learn first, so make sure that you prepare all of your ingredients before doing anything else. Grab a cup of flour, one large egg, some grapeseed oil, and a cup of water. Personally, I love grapeseed oil as it leaves no trace of flavor when you cook your wrapper.
Once you have all the ingredients in place, go ahead and proceed to the next step.
- Pro Tip: The quality and properties of your oil are the most important things here. If grapeseed oil is not available for you, then you can use any neutral tasting oil as a substitute. Canola oil is a great substitute, as it does not impart any taste or flavor. This is important when making lumpia wrappers. Another oil that you can use is vegetable oil.
Even olive oil has some mild taste to it, so it is advisable not to use it. There was a time when I used a sharp-tasting oil (sesame) while experimenting, but it left me with a less than desirable result. Other oils to avoid are peanut oil, walnut oil, and chili oil.
Here is the part where it can get quite messy! Put your cup of flour into a mixing bowl and add the water and egg. Get a whisk and start mixing the ingredients together. This is going to take a while as you the batter needs to be a very smooth texture.
Once you get a smooth and silky batter, mix in a bit of salt for flavor, but do not overdo it as you do not want a salty batter. This step is optional if want to keep your sodium content down. After you’ve done this, proceed to the next step.
- Pro Tip: Some recipes call for whole milk instead of water. This makes the batter a bit thicker and silkier. However, I personally like the consistency of plain old water, but I suggest that you experiment to find out which pleases your palate more.
If you have a crepe pan, then you better grab it for this next step, as it makes it easier for you to cook the batter. However, any shallow pan you have lying around will do the job as well. Heat your pan on medium heat and wait for a few minutes. Test if your pan is hot enough by putting a drop of water in it. If the water sizzles and evaporates, then your pan is ready for the next step. Add a little of grapeseed oil in the middle and swirl it around the pan, covering the pan’s surface with a thin layer of oil.
Grab a spoonful of batter and carefully pour it in the middle of the pan. If you are familiar with crepe making, the idea is to swirl the batter around to make it as thin as possible while it cooks. Make sure that you measure the amount of batter as best as you can. Timing is crucial here, so any excess batter inside the pan will have to be quickly poured back into the batter.
- Pro Tip: The key to an excellent lumpia wrapper is to make it as thin as possible. However, if you make it too thin, then the wrapper will break apart easily. Just make sure that it is thick enough to handle and thin enough to be extra crispy when fried.
Check your batter as you cook it in the pan, making sure that everything is cooked through. Once you feel the batter is cooked sufficiently, use a spatula to pry the lumpia wrapper off the pan. Make sure that the lumpia wrapper is not overcooked or else you may have to start all over again. You should any avoid browning on the surface of the batter, although some people do find the extra crisp it creates quite desirable if you plan to eat it fresh.
- Pro Tip: Some recipes say that you need to cook the other side of the lumpia wrapper. However, I personally prefer keeping the other side a little bit undercooked. Experiment and find out which technique you prefer. At the end of the day, you are the chef and it’s your call!
There you go, you’ve made lumpia wrappers from scratch and with a whole lot of love. You can store these beauties in the refrigerator for a day or two and pop them in the oven if you want to heat them. Just make sure you keep it under 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, fill the wrappers up with your choice of meat or vegetables and then serve!
Lumpia wrappers instantly brighten up any dinner table. These little fried wontons are always a fantastic treat that make snack times both zestier and extremely healthy. From deep-fried offerings to fresh, bright salads, lumpia wrappers can be your partner in culinary crime.
I absolutely loved writing this article because of my love of Asian cooking and ingredients. I for one, believe that Asia has the best culinary pedigree and flavors in the world (my apologies to the French). That is why I always love going to places in Asia, especially in the Southeast, where that flavors of the dishes just explode wildly in your mouth. Nothing beats those types of culinary experiences. So if you are like me, I do hope this list does wonders for you.
Lumpia wrappers are a joy to make and if you had fun and learned something new, feel free to share this article with those who might be interested. Also, make sure you write down your comments and suggestion in the space below to help our other readers. Have fun and good luck on your food journey!