Recipe by Joseph Hernandez
As autumn continue to ramp up to cooler days, more colorful trees and earlier nightfall, I’m also more likely to want the comfort foods of my childhood. Being Filipino, or “Pinoy,” I didn’t grow up with grilled cheese or mac and cheese like my American-born peers. Instead, I had my mother’s island cooking, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. A mix of different cultures (Chinese, Spanish, even Indian), Filipino cuisine has a wide range of flavors, from savory to sour.
That said, my favorite dish was (and is!) lumpia, the Pinoy version of egg rolls: A simple mix of ground protein (see note), celery, carrots and onions wrapped in gossamer-thin rice paper and deep-fried to a golden brown. It’s almost childlike in its simplicity, and yet that is precisely why it is so comforting. The delicate crunch is a time warp to third grade, when I brought lumpia to share with the class on my birthday, while the other kids brought cupcakes. A simple meal at home always paired the egg rolls with a heaping portion of rice and Thai chili-sauce, sometimes banana ketchup, both found in Asian specialty stores.
Note: Though pork is traditional, my family has found that turkey is not only a lighter alternative, but also stays moist and crispy longer.
Servings: 15-20 (2-3 pieces/serving)
Calories per serving: 110 per serving
Prep time: 30 min
Cooking time: 20 min
Total time: 50 min
2 tbsp vegetable oil (for browning)
2 cups vegetable oil (for frying)
1 lb lean ground pork (or ground turkey)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion , finely chopped
1/2 cup celery leaves, finely chopped
1 celery stalk , finely chopped
2 carrots , finely chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce (optional)
1 package rice paper egg roll wrappers
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup water (or 1 egg wash), to seal wrapper