Lumpiang Shanghai or Filipino Spring Rolls are traditionally made of ground meat (usually pork), minced onions, finely chopped carrots and seasoning all rolled up in a paper thin wrapper made with flour and water. It is sealed at the end either by using a sticky beaten egg or plain water.
By the name it is given, you can almost guess that it has its origins in China though for some reason we haven't dropped the "Shanghai" at the end and continues to use it to this day. I suppose the reason for this is to differentiate this from the other kind of Lumpia which uses mostly vegetables (though occasionally with a little meat tucked in) as filling. So when you simply say Lumpia, people will tend to think you mean the plumper and bigger spring roll rather than the "Shanghai" which is a smaller and meatier one.
In the Philippines, perhaps next to Pancit, Lumpiang Shanghai has got to be the most common dish you will find in any kind of celebration - whether it be a wedding, birthday, reunion or a simple get-together. The reason is that it can be made in bulk and ahead of time! True, it takes a bit of effort to make it (fancy making spring rolls for an hour or 2?) but when you make a lot of it - you don't need to make other extra dishes because everyone goes for the spring rolls! Besides, since you can actually make this at least a day ahead or even weeks ahead if you freeze them, then it's actually a very practical dish to make. So despite some labor required it does save time in the end and less stress in thinking of what other dishes to prepare. So make a huge batch, freeze and serve it whenever you need it!
Of course Lumpiang Shanghai is best eaten with a sauce. I usually prefer the sweet chili sauce, the kind that you find in any Asian store. In the Philippines though, it is often served with our favorite ketchup - Jufran Banana Ketchup! Yes, such a ketchup exists and I love it!
I always pre-cook my meat fillings for lumpiang shanghai so I take the guess work out of the equation (did the meat cook properly? did I season the mixture enough?) and my mother always did, so I wanted to play safe too! It maybe a bit labor intensive this way, but at least you’ll be guaranteed the results and no need for the rolls to really soak up all the oil in the deep fryer. Nonetheless, there are lots of ways one can cook lumpiang shanghai and they can all turn out yummy, too. Here’s my version which has always worked for me (even my little tots love it). It’s easy enough to tweak to suit one’s palate. And yes, if you bring this to a party, you'll be the star, well - at least the dish will be! :-)
1 kilo / 2 lbs. ground pork
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped2 small onions, minced
1 big or 2 medium size carrots, finely chopped
5-6 Tbsp. soy sauce (adjust it to your taste)
1 jicama* (singkamas) or a tub of water chestnut, finely chopped (optional – but I do love the extra crunch and flavor either brings!!!)
Cooking oil (enough to cover the lumpia when deep-frying)
Lumpia (spring roll) wrappers (the paper thin variety ) – look for the name “balat ng lumpia” or simply “lumpia” printed on the wrapper when you look for it in any Asian store.
Pre-cooking the Lumpia filling