An original recipe from The Tasty Page
Reasons why I love being Filipino include, but are not limited to:
1) The love and abundance of family. (If you’re Filipino you probably have tons of aunts and uncles that you’re not related to by blood, but they’re still considered your family and it’s awesome. You know what I’m talking about, my fellow Pinoys.)
2) The food. (I need a moment of silence to acknowledge its amazingness.)
3) The entertainment. It’s a proven fact that Filipinos are some badass singers. Case in point: Lea Salonga (starred in Miss Saigon and is a huge Broadway star), Arnel Pineda (current lead singer of Journey), me (enough said) – and there are plenty more; and
4) The goodness and kindness of Filipinos. Anthony Bourdain said recently that Filipinos are the nicest motherf’ers you’re ever going to meet. OK, maybe he didn’t use those exact words. But it’s close enough to what he actually did say.
If you saw Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown where he went to the Philippines, you’ll remember that he said, “Filipinos are, for reasons I have yet to figure out, probably the most giving of all people on the planet.” Most Filipinos would probably shy away from this compliment and dismiss it – even though we know it’s true. For the most part, I think Filipinos are inherently selfless and just love to share for the sheer enjoyment of making other people happy. And when it comes to food, the abundance of generosity is overwhelming.
If you go to a Filipino family’s house for miryenda (snack), you will get the equivalent of a 5-course meal, where you will probably love every bite. And if you get invited to a Filipino party…bring the loosest clothing in your closet. Especially if you know lechon (a whole roasted pig) will be there.
One of the things you will probably find at a Filipino party is lumpia. Lumpia is a Filipino spring roll that is either filled with vegetables and/or meat, with pork being the main choice of meat. If you hear that Lumpia Shanghai is being served, drop what you’re doing, and go to the table where it is immediately. Lumpia Shanghai usually goes quick because they’re so good and are seriously addicting. And they’re easy to pop in your mouth in between greeting your “aunts” and “uncles.”
Typically, inside the thin, crispy wrapper is a mixture of ground pork, shrimp, garlic, onions, carrots, and water chestnuts. All so good, but I wanted to make a stripped down version that didn’t include shrimp, since my husband and sons aren’t big fans, and also to lessen the amount of ingredients to chop because I just wanted to make these babies and eat them STAT.
This recipe is also super easy to assemble. No need to fold the edges of the wrapper over. You just roll the mixture forward and you’re done. And for me, I find assembling things like Lumpia Shanghai very relaxing. I don’t knit, but it might be the same type of feeling knitters have when they’re repeating the same movements as they create something, knowing the outcome is going to be great. But it’s also fun to assemble Lumpia Shanghi with a group. Growing up, my sisters and I would wrap things like lumpia and wontons together around my parents’ kitchen table. Laughter, inside jokes, and all around fun silliness would always be included. Anything that fell apart while cooking we blamed on my younger sister. Though one time she wasn’t around so my older sister and I really couldn’t blame her. We probably did anyway. (I’m laughing by myself just thinking about it.)
I’m glad that Filipino food is gaining more exposure in magazines like Saveur and Fine Cooking, food blogs like Burnt Lumpia (http://burntlumpiablog.com/) and Junblog (http://blog.junbelen.com/) and in restaurants like Jeepney, a Filipino Gastropub, and Maharlika, both in New York City. And I’m jumping on the “Filipino food is amazing!” campaign trail too. To me, there is so much to love about Filipino food. Not only does it taste delicious, but you can feel all the love and kindness that goes into making the food. And I hope that you try this Lumpia Shanghai recipe and the other Filipino recipes I’ll be posting and see what I mean. You might even be like me and just break out singing. That’s OK. It’s a Filipino thing. Just let it happen.
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