Sunday, March 29, 2009

80 Plates: The Day the General Ate Cabbage


So this 80 Plates thing has captured the imagination of my friends and family. One of the most excited is my friend Jacalyn, who not only has started a similar operation with her family, but has also asked several of her friends from other countries if they have recipes they'd like to contribute. One of her friends from church, Nitz, is from the Philippines and offered up her recipe for lumpia. Lumpia are fried egg roll type pastries and are exceedingly popular in the Philippines and Indonesia.

Nitz graciously gave me the green light to post her recipe here on the blog for those of you who might want to take a crack at making them yourselves, so I will post it at the end of this entry for you to enjoy.

Lumpia are wrapped in a wrapper, just like egg rolls, but there are such things as lumpia wrappers. Speaking with Jacalyn, she said there are actual lumpia wrappers, not just egg roll wrappers. I knew there was an international market near 5 Mile Fork in Fredericksburg, so I decided to go in there. I had mistakenly thought it was more of an African market, but in fact, it's Asian to my good fortune. I had a great time wandering the aisles, looking at all the foodstuffs there and in the freezer they had lumpia wrappers! As you can see from the picture, they are quite thin and round.

So, wrappers in hand, I gathered up the other ingredients I needed and decided to do the prep work for them the night before they were to be eaten. This was in large part because I knew we'd have a houseful on Saturday (Jacalyn, her husband and 2 boys were coming during the day to help us work over the closet in the baby's room and Elizabeth and her husband were coming for dinner) and you know the old saying about too many cooks, but also because I have a craptastic kitchen and there's not a whole lot of room to do anything, so I need to keep it clean and organized as I go so that I have room to actually cook.

So the first task is to actually make the filling. I have a new cutting board courtesy of the Pampered Chef, so prepping veggies and giving them a place to call home is much easier now--the board is big enough to hold everything. Everything had to be pretty finely minced, slided, or chopped, so the one modification I made to this plan was that I grated the carrots. Despite my best efforts, I must confess, I absolutely hate cutting up carrots. The idea of mincing them did not appeal to me at all. Grating took all of 30 seconds and it was done. The rest of the veggies I did quickly the recommended way.


Don't they look lovely? Green onions, cabbage, onions, carrots, garlic


That done, it was time to turn to the stove. First thing was first, cooking the pork. This is done in a little bit of vegetable oil, after which it is removed from the pan. Leaving a little bit of grease in the frying pan, you then add the garlic and onions in the pan and let them cook down a tad. This smells absolutely wonderful! After a couple of minutes, you throw the pork back in and add in the rest of your vegetables and let it all cook together in a big happy family of flavor.

Once that is done, you add in soy sauce, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and let it all cook together. You are going to have to excuse this next series of photos, but I was darned sure going to put them in! You have no idea how hard it is to try and add ingredients and take pictures at the same time, and yet I did it, so I'm putting the pictures in at the same time! :-) Being a righty, I have to cook with my right hand, which means taking pictures with my left hand. Unfortunately, the camera button is on the right hand side of the camera, so I had to hold the camera upside down and then rotate the pictures afterwards. What I wouldn't have given to be ambidextrious!






This done, I decided to call it a night for the lumpia and put them in a container in the fridge and turned my attention to other prep work for the other meal Saturday, which I will get to in another post.

Saturday dawned rainy and disgusting, so it was a good day to be stuck in the house cooking. Jacalyn and her clan arrived just before noon and she and I set to work rolling lumpias. I thought it would be rather difficult to do, but actually it wasn't. The first ones we made were quite large. Jacalyn said that they were much bigger than the ones she'd seen Nitz bring to church. We decided to cut down on the amount of filling that we put into each lumpia, but even so, I think we only ended up with 15 or so of them, which is half what the recipe said we'd get.


Me and my first lumpia!


It was pretty easy and fun to roll them. The hardest part was getting the wrappers unstuck from the paper! After that it was all gravy and in no time flat, we had a plate full of them, ready to fry. Because the filling is already cooked, you don't need to waste a lot of time on frying them up. I left them in a little longer than perhaps was necessary because the filling had been refrigerated and I wanted them to be good and hot. As it turned out, they were quite hot! Most of us took a bite and then set them down to cool or broke them open and then let them cool a bit more.



I had asked Jacalyn if there was supposed to be a dipping sauce or anything, and she had suggested that we could use duck sauce if we wanted to, although she didn't usually have anything with hers if they had them at church. I like duck sauce just fine, so I decided to pick some up. I selected Mee Tu, because I liked the name and it made me think of how the StanClan had jumped on board the international cooking train! "Yum! Me too!"

It was time to put it to the test. The General test. He had said the day before that he had eaten lumpia at work--his former supervisor in DC was Filippino and had brought lumpia in, and he didn't like them. I told him that if he didn't like these, I would make him something else to eat. But he did say he would try them first, for which I was grateful. And guess what? He liked them a lot! I don't think he would go out of his way to eat them again, but he ate three of them and said, "Pretty good" which is about the equivalent of "OK" or better in General-speak. I really, really liked them. I love spring rolls, and these were somewhat similar to spring rolls. The wrappers fried up crispy and delicious. The StanClan were already devoted lumpia eaters, but I think they enjoyed them too!



I only ate 2, but really that was a pretty decent lunch. I won't lie, I was HUNGRY by the time dinner rolled around, but they made a pretty decent little meal!

Many thanks to Nitz and Jacalyn for bringing this recipe to my attention! I hope I've done you proud, Nitz! I loved your recipe and thank you for sharing it. :-)

NITZ'S LUMPIA RECIPE
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground pork
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup minced carrots
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup thinly sliced green cabbage
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon soy sauce
30 lumpia wrappers
2 cups vegetable oil for frying

Directions:

1. Place a wok or large skillet over high heat, and pour in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Cook pork, stirring frequently, until no pink is showing. Remove pork from pan and set aside. Drain grease from pan, leaving a thin coating. Cook garlic and onion in the same pan for 2 minutes. Stir in the cooked pork, carrots, green onions, and cabbage. Season with pepper, salt, garlic powder, and soy sauce. Remove from heat, and set aside until cool enough to handle.

2. Place three heaping tablespoons of the filling diagonally near one corner of each wrapper, leaving a 1 1/2 inch space at both ends. Fold the side along the length of the filling over the filling, tuck in both ends, and roll neatly. Keep the roll tight as you assemble. Moisten the other side of hte wrapper with water to seal the edge. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap to retain moisture.

3. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat, add oil to 1/2 inch depth, and heat for 5 minutes. Slide 3 or 4 lumpia into the oil. Fry the rolls for 1 to 2 minutes, until all sides are golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Makes about 30 pieces

Incidentally, this was TomTom's favorite 80 plates! He got to have some treats too!

2 pearl(s) of wisdom:

Sarah said...

Now you have me craving lumpia. Those look great! We made gluten-free french bread yesterday, so I guess that counts as another country?? :-)

Lauren said...

Yum yum yum yum! My SIL is Filipina, and whenever her folks have a get-together, they always have lumpia...and I eat so many I generally feel sick. I want some!!