When I was a young child of seven years, I learned cooking from my mother. We would make Miranda (snacks) to take to various places like construction sites and to the river where there were lots of people swimming or washing their clothes and sell them so we could make money for our family. This was a daily occurrence for us but was a learning experience for me. It also allowed me to develop a real bond with my mom.
Once I got to my teen years, I worked in my aunt’s bakery shop and learned to cook other foods, but especially bread. This taught me how to work with customers and deal with people, as well. When I moved to the USA in 1988, I learned to cook American foods and bake desserts from my mother-in-law. The one special food we did together was pies for church that were given to people in need. She was a really good cook, especially when it came to desserts; like my bond with my mother, it allowed me to build a loving bond with her, as well, and that was important, since I was in a new country and culture learning a new language and foods.
Here, I have made what Filipinos call Lumpia, but it is also known as spring rolls, because although time-consuming, it is a dish that is meant to be shared. I like sharing my food with others in hopes that sharing a little food and time with them will make their day better.
Lumpia (Filipino Vegetarian Spring Rolls)
2 tablespoons oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup carrots, cubed, julienned or shredded
1 cup green string beans, sliced thin, the same size as carrots if cubed
1 cup jicama, cubed or julienned
2 cups green cabbage, shredded
2 cups bean sprouts
2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
3 tablespoons regular or vegetarian oyster sauce, or to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pack lumpia/spring roll wrappers, paper-thin variety
2 cups oil, or just enough to cover the rolls for deep-frying
Sweet chili sauce or spicy vinegar sauce to serve for dipping, if desired
Heat the oil on medium, using a wok or large frying pan. When the oil is hot, sauté the garlic and onions until aromatic, approximately one minute.
Add the carrots, green beans and cabbage and stir-fry for approximately three minutes. Add the bean sprouts and jicama and pour in the soy sauce and oyster sauce. Season with a little pepper. Mix everything and cook for another one to two minutes until all the vegetables are tender but still retain some crunch. Adjust seasoning, if needed, by adding more salt, soy sauce, etc., to taste.
Remove from the heat and place in a strainer or colander to drain all the liquid remaining. Allow to cool completely.
To make the spring rolls, place approximately two tablespoons of the filling in one of the corners of the wrapper. Roll the corner with the filling, spreading it a little, towards the middle. Fold the sides inward to seal, then continue to roll, until you have approximately two inches left of the wrapper. Using your finger, brush the edges with a little water, then seal completely. Make sure it is tightly secured. Place the finished roll on a platter with the sealed side downwards. Repeat until all the filling is gone. This recipe doubles the wrapping.
Heat the oil in a deep pan until hot; it is ready when a tiny piece of bread dropped into the oil sizzles immediately. Fry the spring rolls in batches, avoiding overcrowding, for approximately three minutes or until medium brown in color. Transfer to a colander lined with paper towels. Place the spring rolls upright to ensure proper draining.
Serve with sweet chili sauce, or to be authentic, a spicy vinegar sauce. Enjoy immediately!