Lumpia is a type of spring roll adapted from Chinese cuisine by the Philippines and Indonesia. In my family, lumpia is a staple for celebrations like birthdays, Christmas, and New Year's Eve. It's the star of every Filpino gathering, the dish that gets eaten right away—a favorite of kids and adults alike.
This particular recipe is my vegan take on my mom's lumpia Shanghai, which are filled with ground pork or beef. They’re easy to make and can also be stored in the freezer in an airtight container (or a ziplock bag lined with parchment paper) for a couple of months. You're welcome to make your own lumpia wrappers if you're up for it, but I recommend using store-bought (they’ll be labeled "Spring Roll Pastry") for ease—just make sure you don't accidentally purchase egg roll wrappers, which are a lot thicker and have a different texture.
This recipe serves yields about 16 rolls and will serve 4 to 6 people, but you can easily double it if you're thinking of freezing them or want to make a larger batch. My mom says it's best to freeze them an hour before frying to get a crispier result, but you can certainly cook them right away if you simply can’t wait. I don't roll mine too tightly, to make sure air pockets don't show up when frying—this should also help you get an even golden brown exterior. You'll notice that I don't add a lot of seasoning to the filling mixture. That's because the wrappers themselves already have a bit of salt, and lumpia is not meant to taste overpowering. One roll should make you head back to the platter for seconds.
When frying, make sure not to overcrowd your pan (I like to fry five rolls at once in a 10-inch skillet), and cook them until each side is golden brown and crispy. This shouldn't take too much time as long as the oil is hot enough—and be sure to keep an eye on them to avoid burning. To serve, pair lumpia with your favorite sweet and sour sauce or banana ketchup. —Ria Elciario
- Prep time 40 minutes
- Cook time 30 minutes
- makes 16 lumpia
julienned (or shredded) carrot (about 1 large)
bean sprouts (about 2½ to 3 ounces)
finely sliced green beans (4½ ounces)
extra-firm tofu, finely crumbled (about 6 ounces), plus more as needed
medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
freshly ground black pepper (optional)
package of 8x8-inch spring roll wrappers (8½-inch works as well), thawed if frozen
Neutral oil, for frying
Sweet and sour sauce or banana ketchup, for serving (optional)
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the carrots, bean sprouts, green beans, tofu, and onion, then season with salt and black pepper. Using your hands, mix well to make sure everything is fully incorporated. You should have about 5½ cups (or 19 ounces) of filling.
- Separate the spring roll wrappers from one another and prepare a cup of water for sealing each roll.
- To roll, lay one wrapper on a clean work surface (or cutting board) and add 2 tablespoons of the vegetable mixture about 1½ inches from the bottom of the wrapper. Spread out the filling into a rectangular log about 3 to 4 inches long, making sure to leave about 1½ inch on the left and right sides cleared for rolling.
- Fold the wrapper from the bottom up (covering all of the vegetable mixture), then fold the left and right sides over. If you notice any gaps, feel free to use some more crumbled tofu to fill it in as needed. Working bottom to top, roll until you have half an inch of the wrapper left, then dip your finger in water, run your damp finger along the exposed wrapper, then finish rolling to seal the roll. Transfer the roll to a plate, seam side down to secure the seal, and repeat until you’ve finished your vegetable mixture. At this point, you can freeze the lumpia for an hour before frying (directly from the freezer) to get them crispier, or store them for up to 2 months to cook whenever you want.
- Heat a ¼-inch layer of oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat.
- To check if your oil is hot enough, drop a small piece of wrapper and see if the oil bubbles around it—if it does, you’re good to go!
- Working in batches, add about 5 or 6 rolls (make sure they’re not sticking to each other). Fry for about 2 to 3 minutes per side or until golden brown—check frequently to make sure they don’t burn.
- Remove the rolls to a paper-towel-lined plate or a wire rack fitted over a sheet pan to drain for 5 minutes. Serve with sweet and sour sauce or banana ketchup.