I was born in the Philippines. That's not a fact most people (anyone) would guess, since my genetic heritage is a mix of the many pale and freckled peoples of the world. I was an Air Force kid, and my parents were stationed at Clark Air Base when I was born. We ate like natives for the years we were there, and I still adore and prefer those flavor profiles to most American fare. I hate potatoes with a passion, but would happily eat white rice with soy sauce every day of my life.
So when I was creating my pan-Asian feast for the Firefly party, naturally, I included some of our family favorites from our days in the Philippines, including Lumpia (a Filipino version of an egg roll).
Start by browning the ground beef and draining it. Set aside. In the same pan, with some residual fat from the ground beef, sautee the onion, carrot, and cabbage, until slightly soft and cooked. Add the meat and the soy sauce, and mix to create the lumpia filling.
You're going to want to find lumpia wrappers in the freezer section at your local Asian market. The package pictured above is a great brand. They're very, very thin. Almost see-through. We're talking filo dough or thinner here.
Don't be fooled by the spring roll/lumpia rolls. It's not the same thing. Oh, if you MUST, and that's all you can find, go ahead and use it. But those spring roll wrappers are far too thick for proper lumpia.
Place a small amount of filling in a thin line on the lumpia wrapper. I used one of those scoops in the picture for each lumpia. I just ran to the kitchen to figure out how much that spoon holds, and it's less than 2T. It's probably metric, though, and I didn't see a marking. In any case, it's not a lot of filling. Lumpia are skinny little things.
Roll the lumpia tightly up, and seal the edge with a dab of water.
Once the lumpia are all wrapped, you can go ahead and cook right away, or you can freeze the lumpia for cooking up later.
When I freeze ahead of time, I freeze them in a single layer on sheet pans, and only once frozen do I put them in freezer bags. It's great to be able to do this chore well ahead of time, and not the day of the party.
Traditionally, lumpia are fried to a golden crisp. That's what I did for the party, to be authentic. But I actually like baking them just as well. 15 minutes at 400 degrees in the oven will make them crispy, lightly golden, and absolutely delicious. Plus, you can bake them all at once, instead of frying them a few at a time. Win-win!
I like lumpia with just soy sauce for dipping, but there is a tasty traditional lumpia dipping sauce that you can make, too.
In a small saucepan, fry garlic in the oil until golden brown, then remove (so it doesn't get bitter). Into the hot fat, slowly pour the sauce ingredients and stir constantly as it cooks. It will look awful. Lumpy and cloudy and...well, just wrong. Until it magically looks right. When it turns from lumpy yuckiness to a thick, brown, glossy dipping sauce, you'll know it's done. Top with the fried garlic and enjoy!