When I Dip You Dip We Dip

Every Filipino family has their own version of a dipping sauce for lumpia.  The dipping sauce my mother makes is very simple and consists of vinegar, chopped garlic, and ground black pepper.  When I make my mom’s sauce, I usually throw in some red pepper flakes for some extra spice.

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It might not seem very obvious at first, but lumpia dipping can be a very serious endeavor.  Especially when you consider the consequences.

For instance, before taking a bite of my lumpia, I dip its closed end directly into the dipping sauce.  But once I take a bite, I do not dip it back into the sauce.  Usually, I don’t mind double-dipping—you could double-dip your chips in the salsa as much as you’d like.  But lumpia is different.  It’s got cargo inside.

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Once you bite the end off of a lumpia it transforms itself from a Filipino eggroll to an open tube of loose meat!  Gravity and an overturned open tube of loose meat are not friends!  Mother Nature scoffs at your dipping sauce! Pretty soon there will be bits of meat and shards of once-crisp lumpia wrapper floating in what was formerly a pristine pool of vinegar and spice.

(I just thought of this, but if I were part of a tag team of Filipino wrestlers, I’d want our name to be “Vinegar and Spice”. Vinegar would be the surly one and Spice would be the flamboyant tactician.  I could play either role.  Our finishing move would be the “Quadruple Tsinelas Dropkick to the Face!” But I digress. Back to my original post.)

I don’t want to see your meat floating in my sauce!  It’s unacceptable
and it’s gross and it’s something I refer to as LSP (Lumpia Sauce
Pollution). It’s a serious problem, folks.

To avoid a muddy mess of meat in your dipping sauce, alls ya has to do is instead of pouring meat into your sauce, take a spoon and pour the sauce into your lumpia.  Easy, no? There may be a few Pinoys out there that think this is common practice and I’m just preaching to the choir.  But I disagree.  I’ve been to too many gatherings in which I happily fill my three-compartment styrofoam plate with rice, pancit, igado, adobo, lumpia and what have you (three compartments holds a lot), and then I get to the communal bowl of lumpia sauce and sure enough it looks like someone set off a lumpia grenade in it.

If I’m at the party early, and the lumpia sauce hasn’t been polluted yet, I ladle some of the sauce into a Dixie cup and I have my own serving to do as I wish. I just have to be careful not to confuse my sauce cup with my beer cup.  My dad did that once and he ended up strangling a couple of his distant cousins.*  My dad, he’s easily upset.

Outside of a party setting, LSP is easier to manage and can be eliminated by providing more access to the dipping sauce.  For instance, at my mother’s house my mom usually makes two separate bowls of her lumpia sauce and places a bowl at each end of the table for easy sharing.  Each bowl has a spoon which is to be used for transporting sauce to lumpia.  This is a fine and dandy solution to LSP.  And because I usually sit next to my father at the dinner table, I make damn sure I don’t pollute his sauce.

I usually sit to the immediate left of my father, which means if I screw anything up at the dinner table I’d catch a quick backhand to the face.  That might sound kinda harsh, but it’s much better than sitting to his immediate right and getting a punch to the throat.** Oh, Dad. Such a warm soul is he.

Anyhoo, I hope all of you will find this bit of information that I’ve provided to be useful in your lives. Remember, LSP is a serious but very preventable problem.  Only you can prevent Lumpia Sauce Pollution!

In addition to the standard vinegar, garlic, and pepper sauce that I described above, I like to make a sort of sweet, sour, and spicy sauce from fresh-squeezed orange juice, kalamansi juice, and ginger.  Considering I created this sauce on the fly from a bunch of stuff I already had on hand, I enjoyed it very much.***

*I’m joking.
**Again, another joke. Relax.
***Seriously, it’s pretty good.

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Sweet Sour and Spicy Dipping Sauce

Juice of one large orange
Juice of 2-3 kalamansi limes
1/2 inch piece of ginger, chopped fine
1 teaspoon patis (fish sauce)
Red pepper flakes to taste
1 dried chipotle pepper (optional)
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon cornstarch

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the orange juice, kalamansi juice, ginger, patis, red pepper flakes, and chipotle pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the water and the cornstarch and mix well.  After the orange juice mixture has simmered, add the cornstarch slurry to the pot and mix well.  Continue to simmer the sauce for another 2-3 minutes. The sauce will thicken as it cooks.

Remove the sauce from the heat, and remove the chipotle pepper from the sauce.  Taste the sauce for seasoning and add more kalamansi juice or patis as needed. If the orange juice did not provide enough sweetness, add a bit of sugar if needed. For extra spice, chop the chipotle pepper into a fine dice and return to the sauce.  Let the sauce come to room temperature and serve with lumpia.

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Note: The lumpia in the above picture has not been bitten into yet.  Therefore, it follows all anti-LSP guidelines. Thank you for your concern.

  • Manggy November 6, 2007, 10:17 pm

    LSP– Good one! Actually we never have LSP in everyday use because we use sweet chili sauce out of the bottle. During parties the bowl of sauce is at the service table with a spoon in it :)

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  • Katrina November 6, 2007, 10:55 pm

    Funny!!! Again, a typical Pinoy wouldn’t even think of LSP, since it’s taken for granted.
    At our home, we spoon the sauce on the lumpia. We do the same when we’re out, and that’s what I see others do, too…so yeah, to us it’s common practice.
    Do you also make diff. dips for diff. kinds of lumpia there? The vinegar dip is usually just for fried vegetable lumpia, like what you’ve shown. Lumpiang Shanghai goes with a red Chinese-type sweet-sour sauce, sometimes sweet chili sauce. And fresh lumpia has a sweet, brown, gravy-like sauce.
    My favorite (I can rarely resist a well-made one) is crisp, meaty Lumpiang Shanghai with a dark red, not too cornstarchy sweer-sour dip. I can eat a plate-full, especially with garlic rice!

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  • Gretchen Noelle November 7, 2007, 3:55 am

    This was indeed very funny. I love lumpia, due to my Filipino friend. I even helped roll some a few months ago. I sent your story off to her as I believe she would fully appreciate it.

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  • Julie November 7, 2007, 7:01 am

    Ha! Too funny, and too familiar at those gatherings! Growing up in my house, though, we just used banana ketchup or (get this) regular ketchup. When I’d eat lumpia in places with a community sauce bowl, I’d actually drizzle a nice line of sauce right along my lumpia, ensuring every bite gets some. Sauce on!
    I’ve got a lumpia post coming up in conjunction with the Filipino Food night. I almost made duck sauce, but I didn’t have apricot jam.

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  • raissa November 7, 2007, 11:41 am

    LSP – too funny. But I agree some people just dont realize that double dipping is bad for anything most especially fried lumpia. Use a spoon. Plus, spooning in the sauce makes the lumpia tastier because it goes until the end part and its all so good esp if you feel the rest of the vinegar trickling down your palm. dunking just coats the dunked part hahaha If I want to be prim and proper at a party, I make an opening in the middle of the lumpia and spoon in generous amounts of vinegar and cut it to bite sizes.

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  • Cynthia November 7, 2007, 2:51 pm

    As yes, dipping and double dipping. I usually do what you suggest, Marvin, use a spoon and also try to get my own serving in a hot glass.

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  • Gay November 7, 2007, 5:38 pm

    Vendors who sold fried lumpia usually have a bottle of vinegar half-full with siling labuyo. There’s a hole in the cap so you just tilt the bottle to pour vinegar on your lumpia. You’ve got to bit the lumpia first, though, so the vinegar will be absorbed by the filling. Otherwise you’ll have one messy hand with vinegar running down your arms!

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  • Wandering Chopsticks November 7, 2007, 10:27 pm

    Ha! Just be Vietnamese. Everyone gets their own dipping saucer so you spoon dip from the big bowl and then do what you wish with your own saucer. 😛

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  • oggi November 8, 2007, 6:39 am

    Individual dipping bowl is best but not practical in large parties. I had a co-worker who sold for breakfast fried lumpia with a small plastic bag of vinegar dipping sauce.

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  • Pat November 8, 2007, 12:11 pm

    Did you know that Indonesian spring rolls are also called lumpiah (spelt differently though)? Anyway, LSP is a very serious problem in my house, even though there’s always a spoon in the bowl! My mum makes a dipping sauce that comprises kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), vinegar, water, cornstarch, garlic, and cut birds eye chillies. Delish … Thai sweet chili sauce goes well with lumpiah too!

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  • desie the maybahay November 8, 2007, 1:33 pm

    you’re so right. nothing worse than floaters in one’s dipping sauce!
    your lumpias look beautifully wrapped and cooked-seems like you’ve had lots of practice 😉 i wouldn’t mind a couple, thanks…

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  • Jess November 8, 2007, 7:42 pm

    hehe, have just spent an entire (work) day reading every single one of your posts!
    love your site and your acerbic culinary observations, will keep my eyes peeled for future posts.

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  • pleasurepalate November 9, 2007, 1:54 am

    Wow, reading your entry has me craving lumpia now. I just may have to take a trip to my favorite Filipino restaurant later on today and get me some.
    I’m totally with you on the double-dipping. For me, it’s dip once, but definitely once you bite into it, the spoon is the way to go. That way, you get that sour/tangy flavor all through the filling. Yum!

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  • Dhanggit November 9, 2007, 2:48 pm

    My family have a strategy to avoid this “LSP” thing: our dipping sauce is in a bottle of empty ketchup. You know just like the lumpia vendor ..that way we save using small plates for the dipping sauce…. your lumpia photos made me hungry :-)

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  • Janice November 11, 2007, 9:49 am

    my mom’s lumpia doesn’t really fall apart so i’ve never really had to deal with LSP. .in fact, her lumpia filling is similar to Alton Brown’s meatloaf…i realized that when i made the meatloaf.
    my parents make a little dipping sauce for fish with patis, garlic and kalamansi juice…and soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and red pepper for tofu and eggplant. the first dipping sauce looks like chicharon dipping sauce…good stuff.
    lol…great Freaknasty reference…brings me back to middle school.

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  • jeff November 11, 2007, 7:05 pm

    i also do the spoon technique.. because no.1 the wrapper will stay crispy no.2. u dont double dip..

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  • Jaden November 12, 2007, 1:28 pm

    oh you are TOO FUNNY! I am just the opposite. I take the first bite. Then a little spoonful of dipping sauce gets dribbled inside – gravity disperses the sauce throughout the inside of the roll.

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  • joey November 13, 2007, 1:13 am

    LSP! So that’s what that is :) I also like to spoon my sauce into the lumpia…unless it’s lumpiang sariwa (fresh lumpia), in which case I like to dump everything on a plate, cut it up, and make a big mess! :)
    The dipping sauce you concocted sounds delicious! :)

    Reply
  • Burnt Lumpia November 15, 2007, 9:12 am

    Hi Manggy. We must be savages here as there always seems to be at least one person to double-dip!
    Hello Katrina, yes the vinegar dip is the standard here too for fried lumpia. For shanghai, my family uses the sweet chili sauce from the bottle. And I’ve only seen fresh lumpia once or twice before, and I do think it had a brown sauce.
    Thanks for dropping by Gretchen! And thanks for sending me on to your friend!
    Hey Julie! Regular ketchup on lumpia? I’ve never heard of that before. And drizzling the sauce on is a good idea, you just get vinegar all up on your fingers though;)
    Raissa, you’re right about filling the lumpia and then the vinegar trickling down your palm! I guess that’s when you know you’ve got enough;)
    I wouldn’t expect anything less from a proper lady like yourself Cynthia;)
    Hi Gay! Siling labuyo is wonderful as a sauce. I forgot all about that!
    Dub C, I’d hate to be invited over to your place. I’d embarrass myself by polluting your pristine dipping sauce!
    Lumpia for breakfast, Oggi? That actually sounds pretty good!
    Hi Pat. I didn’t know that Indonesians had lumpiah. And your dipping sauce sounds just as good!
    Thanks desie! I have been getting some practice, I’m glad it’s showing:)
    Wow Jess, I’m flattered you’d waste a work day on me! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll read my rambling often.
    Pleasurepalate, where is your favorite Filipino restaurant? I’d be very interested in knowing where you go.
    Hi Dhanggit. You know, that’s not a bad idea to have it in a squirt bottle. The hole would have to be big enough though to squeeze out the garlic. I will have to look into that.
    Hey there Janice! The meat in your mom’s lumpia must be very compact. And I love it when people catch my obscure references! Thanks;)
    Hello jeff, yes the spoon technique definitely contributes to the wrapper staying crisp.
    Hi Jaden! Yes, gravity can be a good thing if it’s used for the forces of good rather than evil;)
    Joey, I’ll have to look more into a fresh lumpia recipe as I’ve never really had any experience with it.

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  • Rasa Malaysia November 15, 2007, 3:50 pm

    I forgot to bring back some kalamansi lime seeds. Dang it…next time I will and grow them in my patio. 😛

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  • Christine November 16, 2007, 12:00 am

    Hilarious! Reminds me of the double-dipping Seinfeld episode. Like you, I don’t like LSP especially if outside the family. So what we do is cut a slit down the lumpia lengthwise and drizzle the sauce in. That way, we don’t double, triple dip. But who am I kidding, my mom sneaks a dip whenever she can anyway.
    I have to try your sauce, I’m so intrigued by the addition of the juice of an orange and pepper flakes, not to mention the chipotle, oof! :)

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  • Christine November 16, 2007, 12:04 am

    BTW, just read through the comments. For a good lumpia sariwa recipe, try MarketMan’s. If you do a search on his site, it should come up. It’s really good (though we usually make the sauce less sweet as the first time we tried it exactly to his recipe, it was too syrupy). My sister made a whole bunch for my mom’s bday dinner last Tuesday again. It’s a favorite at home now. :)

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  • Melissa! November 16, 2007, 12:22 pm

    Ok, I fell upon your blog because I googled “macapuno” hoping to find a great picture to post on my blog (I almost used yours 😉 but decided not).
    Ok, my lumpia sauce – apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt & pepper. Everyone gets their own dipping bowl because I have to dip between every bite…don’t get grossed out at the lumpia floaties left behind because when I’m done (that is completely done eatting lumpia) I take a spoon and eat the ‘left overs’ from my dipping bowl! Yup, that’s life! 😀

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  • Ruy November 19, 2007, 8:49 pm

    Very creative and funny! I wish cooking programs were this entertaining! Great site!=)

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  • pleasurepalate November 20, 2007, 2:01 am

    BL: My favorite Filipino restaurants are:
    Alejandro’s (Eagle Rock)
    http://pleasurepalate.blogspot.com/2006/11/alejandros-filipino-restaurant-in.html
    Barrio Fiesta (Eagle Rock)
    http://pleasurepalate.blogspot.com/2007/07/barrio-fiesta-after-being-disappointed.html
    Asian Noodles (Chinatown)
    http://pleasurepalate.blogspot.com/2007/07/barrio-fiesta-after-being-disappointed.html
    If you’d like to try actual vegetarian/vegan Filipino food, check out Papillon:
    http://www.papillonvgcuisine.com/
    Being a carnivore, I still prefer Chicken Adobo with actual chicken, but the tofu version wasn’t half bad.

    Reply
  • Burnt Lumpia November 20, 2007, 9:18 pm

    Hi Rasa. Good luck growing the kalamansi. I haven’t had much luck with mine;)
    Hi Christine, I kinda just threw my sauce together, but I was very happy with how it tasted. And thanks for the sariwa tip!
    Hello Melissa. I would definitely not be grossed out by my own floaters, but I wouldn’t eat anyone else’s;) I’m glad you stumbled upon my blog, hope you visit often.
    Thanks Ruy! Thanks for stopping by!
    Thanks for the recs Pleasurepalate. I hope I get to try at least one of the restaurants you mentioned.

    Reply
  • Claudette Tiongson May 23, 2008, 7:59 am

    Thanks! I enjoyed reading this.

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  • bonZai November 24, 2008, 11:23 am

    Well said. I get irked by people who dip their already eaten lumpia twice and thereby contributing more ingredients to the dipping sauce other than vinegar, pepper, and garlic. You just have the instant feeling of slapping them, but then maybe they won’t come to your party next time. The other night, my sis and I caught my mom doing that. NOW, you can’t slap her, now can you??

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  • Burnt Lumpia November 29, 2008, 4:08 pm

    Thanks for visiting, claudette.
    Hi bonZai. No, I wouldn’t slap my mom either, though I’d probably think about it;)

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  • Obbop January 5, 2009, 7:51 am

    A man of honor!!!! Such a rarity nowadays. I commend you, Sir.
    To refrain from double-dipping thine lumpia into the sauce is a commendable mode of behavior and should be emulated by all humanity… and huwomanity.
    A tip of the proverbial hat to you and may all your dipping experiences, lumpia and others, be wondrous.
    http://obbop.wordpress.com/

    Reply
  • manju February 6, 2009, 1:57 am

    You have done a great service bringing the problem of LSP to the world’s attention… my brothers are the worst culprits. I’m sending them a link to this post for their edification.
    And nice take on the dipping sauce with the calamansi and chipotle combo!

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  • Larissa May 27, 2009, 10:09 pm

    I hate LSP as much as you I think. And it only ever happens when someone forgets to get the spoon and are too lazy to get one from the kitchen!
    Or they are new to eating in a Filipino household and no one tells them not to dip.
    P.S.
    My mom, grandma, and me all make the same sauce as you.
    And I took it to my culinary university and schooled them in the Filipino dipping way.

    Reply
  • angie November 23, 2010, 7:59 am

    LSP – perfect.
    i’m totally stealing your dixie cup method. that should also be common practice.

    Reply

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