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After a long vacation to the Philippines visiting family, I’ve returned home to Seattle ready to share one of my favorite traditional dishes with you-Lumpia Shanghai. My mom is from the island of Leyte in the Philippines. This island was horribly damaged by Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013 which made this trip especially poignant.
The trip was filled with karaoke (it’s huge over there!), soaking up the sun, and tons of time spent reconnecting with my family. When visiting with my family we spent much of that time connecting the dots between us, them, and more distantly related aunts, uncles, and cousins. My husband was meeting all of them for the first time and the lineage got complicated enough that I had to make a chart to help him keep track of all of my cousins and second cousins straight in his head.
My family has a long history of farming and working with the land. I talk about this is my book a little, in Chapter 6! Ironically enough, I didn’t inherit this trait right away. While living in my first apartment I tried growing strawberries in my garden. I watered them when I could and was confused when they didn’t grow. In my next apartment, I tried again with no success. My mom even came over and helped fertilize them. Still, they didn’t grow.
When I moved into my house with Rick, I decided to try again. This time, they grew! What was the difference? It turns out the ingredient I was missing was… me! I wasn’t spending enough time tending to the strawberries. Since I was spending more time at home, to my strawberries. Now, I have a full garden with raspberries, zucchinis, herbs and lots of fat, juicy tomatoes! Turns out, I never had a black thumb. I was just never present to take care of my plants!
In honor of my Filipino heritage for this Sunday Brunch I’m sharing one of my favorite traditional recipes for you to enjoy. Assemble your lumpia, get cozy, grab your sweetie, and enjoy this Filipino delicacy!
From the kitchen of Amy Digges
For the lumpia
3 celery stalks
1 medium onion
1 eight-ounce can water chestnuts, drained
1 bunch green onions
4 large garlic cloves
2 pounds ground pork
A dash of salt and pepper
3 tablespoons soy sauce
Lumpia wrappers (can be purchased from an Asian grocery)
For finishing the dish
A mixture of white vinegar, garlic, and salt
Chop the vegetables, including the garlic and onions, to a coarseness about the size of half a grain of rice. For the celery, chop them separately from the other vegetables and squeeze them to drain the liquid to prevent a loose mixture. Mix the vegetables with the meat, soy sauce, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. To separate the lumpia wrappers from each other, carefully peel them apart from each other. Enclose them in a dishtowel to maintain their moisture. Work with one wrapper at a time, placing a pencil-width line of the meat-and-vegetable mixture across one side. Roll the lumpia tightly. Tuck in the ends, or leave them open. Repeat until you have wrapped all the meat mixture.
In a deep pan or fryer, heat one-half to three-quarters inch vegetable oil. The oil level should be just high enough to cover the lumpia. Place four to five lumpia at a time into the hot oil and cook until golden, turning the lumpia once. Cut the crispy lumpia in half or into quarters and serve with sweet-and-sour sauce or a mixture of white vinegar, garlic, and salt. Lumpia freeze well and can be cooked right from the freezer, without thawing.
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