What Is Lumpia?

Emily Pate

Lumpia, or lumpiang, are types of egg or spring rolls originating in China but common in Indonesia and the Philippines. They typically contain a filling made from meat or vegetables and are rolled in lettuce or an egg-based wrapper. Lumpia may be served fresh or deep-fried, and a numerous versions exist. Preparation varies between regions and type, but basic steps include mixing the filling and rolling it onto a store-bought or handmade wrapper.

Lumpia are types of egg rolls that commonly contain a filling made from meat or vegetables.
Lumpia are types of egg rolls that commonly contain a filling made from meat or vegetables.

The filling for lumpia is usually finely chopped or shredded meat or vegetables, and may be fresh or cooked. Wraps are made from lettuce or egg-based crêpe. Lumpia may be fried or fresh, and usually measure anywhere between 2 and 6 inches (about 5 to 15 cm) in length.

Lumpia originated in China.
Lumpia originated in China.

These snacks come in numerous versions, and each type has a specific name. In Filipino cuisine, lumpiang hubád describes a "naked spring roll," which features fresh ingredients and no crêpe wrap. The lumpiang Shanghai contains mostly pork or beef along with vegetables and spices. The roll is only 1 inch (about 5 cm) or less in diameter and is served with sweet and sour sauce.

A lumpiang prito, also known as a gulay, contains only vegetables and is deep fried for a crisp, crunchy texture. It is served with either a soy sauce called toyo-mansi or vinegar and chili peppers. The banana lumpiang, or turón, contains plantain slices and jackfruit and is fried and dusted with brown sugar.

Indonesia also offers a number of different lumpia. One type, called lumpia basah, is filled with bean sprouts, carrots, and chicken or shrimp, much like a Vietnamese spring roll. Other styles incorporate a mix of hot and sweet flavors. The Semarang roll comes fried or fresh and contains pre-cooked dried shrimp or prawns and bamboo shoots. A tapioca-based sauce containing coconut sugar and sweet chili is served with it.

Preparation depends on the region and type of lumpia. Wrappers are typically prepared by mixing flour and egg together, then pouring a small amount on an oiled griddle to form a thin crêpe. The crêpe is not turned over, but cooked on one side only until the edges lift up slightly. Filling ingredients are chopped, diced, or shredded before being combined. If not pre-cooked, they're placed on a wrapper, close to one of the edges, and rolled inside it; the wrapper is then pinched closed.

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