This brings back memories of warm afternoons on the steps of the U.P. Law Library. There was this ambulant vendor who would come by almost everyday just as it was time for the traditional mid-afternoon merienda (snack) and we students would be pointing at one another as to whose turn it was to treat the rest to a lumpia snack.
Bean sprout lumpia, or lumpiang togue, as it is popularly known to the Filipinos, is so named because the bean sprout is the dominant ingredient in the filling. But that’s not really a strict rule. The proportion between the different vegetables can be changed. You can have more carrots and green beans. Or you can add more tofu and pork or some other meat. It’s all a matter of preference. Or budget. If you want to keep the cost down, then more bean sprout and less of everything else will do the trick.
Recipe: Spring rolls with mung bean sprouts filling
- 1/2 kilo of (mung) bean sprouts, washed and drained
- 250 g. of fresh spinach, stalks discarded
- 1 block of firm tofu (about 300 g.), cut into half-inch cubes
- 250 g. of pork (or chicken), sliced thinly
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 100 g. of green beans, sliced diagonally into 1 inch lengths
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 tsp. of grated ginger
- patis (fish sauce), to taste
- ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 egg, beaten
- 18 pieces spring roll wrappers
- about 2 c. of vegetable cooking oil
- Place the pork or chicken slices in a bowl. Pour in 1 teaspoonful of fish sauce. Sprinkle with pepper. Mix well.
- Heat about 2 tablespoonfuls of cooking oil in a wok. Add the pork or chicken and cook over very high heat just until the color changes (about 30 seconds if the temperature is correct).
- Add the garlic, tomato, ginger and onion, and cook until the meat slices start to brown along the edges.
- Add the tofu, carrot, green beans, mung bean sprouts and spinach leaves. Stir. Season with patis and pepper. Cook, stirring, for a few minutes or just until the vegetables start to turn soft. Turn off the heat immediately so as not to make the vegetables soggy. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
- Transfer to a wide shallow bowl and cool for about 30 minutes. Transfer to a strainer and allow all the liquid to drip completely for another half an hour. Don’t make short cuts with the straining part. You want to remove all the excess liquid so as not to soak the spring roll wrappers.
- Separate the spring roll wrappers. Follow the guide for making spring rolls but use about a tablespoonful and a half of filling for each spring roll (you’ll need the beaten egg to seal the spring rolls). With the given ingredients, you should be able to make about 18 medium sized spring rolls. By medium sized, I mean about 4 inches long and about 2 inches in diameter.
- Heat the cooking oil and start frying the spring rolls in batches. How many per batch depends on the size of your wok. As a rule of thumb, just make sure that they are floating in oil and barely touching one another. More importantly, you should be able to roll and turn them over easily.
- Rolling the spring rolls in hot oil is important for even browning. When the spring rolls are a uniform light golden color, scoop them out of the hot oil.
- Drain the fried spring rolls on layers of paper towels to remove any excess oil. Then, fry the next batch, and so on, until all the spring rolls have been fried.
- Serve the spring rolls while hot to make sure that the wrappers are crisp. A dipping sauce of spicy vinegar is the traditional accompaniment.
Preparation time: 20 minute(s), excluding the time to cool and drain the filling
Cooking time: 10 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): about 18 spring rolls
*This is an updated recipe from two earlier versions published in 2003 and 2009, respectively.