Rollin’ With Mom


Like most Asian mothers, my mother’s Powers of Nagging are magnified
a hundred-fold when in the kitchen.  Likewise, my sensitivity to her
nagging is proportionally heightened – which is why I haven’t attempted
to cook anything in her kitchen since the great Turkey Debacle of 2002.
It’s another story for another time, but I quickly want to give a
sampling of my mother’s “constructive criticism” from that night:

“Why is your turkey in a bucket of water? Do you know what you’re doing?”
“We don’t eat cranberry sauce, why are you making that?”
“You’re gonna make rice aren’t you?”
“Are you gonna be much longer, your Dad’s already falling asleep.”
“This drumstick is still pink inside!”

And on and on she went.


Praise isn’t a concept my family quite understands, but they are
masters of criticism – especially my mother. After that night, I swore
I would never, ever, cook anything again for my family – especially my

(Wait, what’s that you say? A vendetta taken too far? Against my own
mother? Listen, Ass, you try cooking up some white-people-food for an
impossible-to-please-hungry-Filipino-family and get back to me about
vendettas.) Ahem. Uh, anyhoo…

Five years later, that promise to myself is getting harder to keep,
especially now that I’m wanting to learn more about Filipino food.  I
can’t exactly cull Filipino recipes from my mother without having to
cook with her. So, I put my kitchen blood feud against my mother aside,
at least for one day, and asked her to show me how to make lumpia – a
fried (generally speaking that is, lumpia can also be prepared unfried and fresh) Filipino appetizer similar to a spring roll.

And you know what? It was a pretty good experience.

After my mother cooked the filling, she, my wife and I, all sat down at the kitchen table to fill and roll out a mess of lumpia.  The three of us at my mother’s kitchen table was a strange scene indeed.  I thought for sure my mother would either A) drive my wife to tears with backhanded remarks about her lack of lumpia-rolling skills, or B) drive me into a frenzied rage with backhanded remarks about my lack of lumpia-rolling skills, resulting in me dropping a deuce in a lumpia wrapper, frying it up, and feeding it to my mom.  Thank God, none of that happened; Dad would have been pissed.

Not only did things remain civil, but I also got to learn some things about my mother that I probably wouldn’t have bothered asking about in other situations.  I discovered that she learned a lot about cooking from my dad’s aunt of all people.  I found out that she was a secret Kali assassin for the Philippine government in the early ‘70s where she earned the nickname of “Lightning Lumpia.”  And I also learned that my mother is an OK gal, and a pretty good lumpia-wrapping teacher.  Good times.

I’m not going to post an exact recipe for the lumpia we made with my mother, because she just threw everything for the filling together without measuring.  Also, using pre-cut, pre-packaged carrots and green beans cuts down on the prep time (no, my mother is not a fan of Rachael Ray). The most important thing to note is the actual rolling of the lumpia:

Lightning Lumpia’s Lumpia

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. lean ground beef (ground pork, or heck, even ground
turkey can be used)
1 cup (approx.) julienned potatoes
1 cup (approx.) julienned carrots
1 cup (approx.) julienned green beans (can be frozen French-cut)
1 cup (approx.) bean sprouts
Salt and pepper to taste
1 package lumpia wrappers (these can be found in Asian
Water for sealing wrappers
Vegetable oil for frying

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium high heat,
1-2 minutes. Add the onion and sweat
until translucent, 5-8 minutes. Add the
garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the ground beef to the pot and cook until completely browned

Add the potatoes, carrots, green beans, and alfalfa sprouts to the
pot, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the filling from the pot to a colander or
sieve. Drain and set aside until filling
is cool enough to handle. Transfer
cooled filling to a large bowl.

How We Roll:

1. Place a single lumpia wrapper, with one of its corners
pointing at you, on a work surface. Place about 2 Tbsp. of the filling ¼ of the
way up from the corner closest to you.

2. Grasping the corner closest to you, roll it up and over
the filling until about half of the wrapper remains.

3. Fold in the right and left corners of the wrapper.

4. Continue to roll the lumpia until the final corner

5. Using a pastry brush, or your fingers, wet the final
corner of the lumpia with water and then roll and seal.

Repeat steps 1-5 until all the filling is gone, or until you
run out of lumpia wrappers (like I said, this recipe isn’t exact).

This recipe makes a lot of lumpia, so you can place the
extras in a freezer bag and then into the freezer for future use.

To cook the lumpia, heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add lumpia (freshly made or frozen) to hot oil and fry until golden brown on all sides.

Say word.

  • Claudell March 4, 2007, 8:06 pm

    What, no recipe for the garlic-vinegar sauce to eat it with? Blasphemy!

  • Suzanne March 5, 2007, 2:42 pm


  • Cameron March 15, 2007, 4:27 pm

    This goes on the top of my list of new things to make! Just another white girl trying to roll with the likes of Lightning Lumpia.

  • joe April 10, 2007, 3:21 pm

    props if you can roll lumpia cant do it ….

  • Janice May 31, 2007, 10:29 am

    hahaha…did you make the Alton Brown brined turkey?
    my Filipino parents liked the Good Eats vichyssoise i made…even though they couldn’t pronounce it…psh, i’m surprised i can even pronounce it.
    i love the blog! i’m surprised most of the kalamansi found in CA is orange; the fruit in the kalamansi trees my dad has in FL are green.

  • Burnt Lumpia May 31, 2007, 12:52 pm

    Thanks Janice. Yes, I make the AB turkey almost every year. I’ve found out that Kalamansi starts out green, and then turns orange. I think Pinoys just use it when it is green. I’m actually going to post a follow-up to my kalamansi tree soon, so stay tuned for that.

  • Eleni September 3, 2007, 8:39 am

    Thanks for sharing this so tasty recipe with me!!! Im from Greece and cooking is my hobby!

  • Burnt Lumpia September 3, 2007, 10:30 pm

    Hi Eleni. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I hope you enjoy the lumpia recipe.

  • Ruth September 13, 2007, 7:37 pm

    I tried learning how to cook Filipino food from my dad, but we found my love of all things measurable and his lack of such love to be an irreconcilable difference. Our conversation over a pot of pork adobo in the making went like this:
    Dad: Ok, now you add some salt.
    Me: Ok. How much salt?
    Dad: (holds out his hand, cups his palm and pours some salt into it) This much.
    Me: What is that, a teaspoon? Two teaspoons?
    Dad: (incredulous) I don’t know. (holds out his palm again) This much!
    Sigh. That’s why I don’t cook Filipino food.

  • Burnt Lumpia September 13, 2007, 8:00 pm

    I know what you mean Ruth! Figuring out measurements has been the most difficult thing for me too. But after a while, you start getting more comfortable.

  • Barbarainnc September 29, 2007, 5:54 pm

    Lumpia Dipping Sauce
    I got this recipe from a Filipino restaurant, equal parts of sugar, vinegar, and banana ketchup. Mix all together until the sugar dissolves. No cooking!!! :) :) It is sooo goood

  • Manggy November 20, 2007, 11:06 pm

    It’s called BRINING, MOTHER. Look it the f*** up!
    Kidding! I would have been slapped eight ways to yesterday with that.

  • OG PILIPINO April 17, 2008, 5:51 pm

    Hey Marv,
    I was looking at the filling in your lumpia. If I am not mistaken you were using bean sprouts, not alfalfa sprouts. I am pretty sure there is a difference between the two. Just a clarification.
    Take it easy, Homes.

  • Burnt Lumpia April 18, 2008, 7:59 am

    Hi OG Pilipino. You are completely right, bean sprouts are completely different than alfalfa sprouts. Bean sprouts is correct and I’ll update the recipe accordingly. Thanks for the catch.

  • Rachelle ~ June 5, 2008, 10:29 pm

    Lumpia & Pancit were my favorite dishes that a coworker would bring in for our work potlucks. I miss working there, just for the food we ate.

  • Rosy rosy July 16, 2008, 8:28 am


  • melissa November 13, 2008, 3:03 pm

    love your blog. moved to manila 4yrs ago and fell in love with the food and people. have learned to cook many dishes. back in states for a visit and sharing the food with everyone.

  • Juan Cervantes December 6, 2008, 4:12 pm

    I like the photos. I learned how to wrap about 60 of these myself because of you but we used the Wanton wrappers so we can make then really small. De La Hoja fight tonight.
    We finished about 240 of these in miniature form. My wife rolled the others. She’s too fast. She’s the 50% Filipino and 50% Mexican. I’m all Mexican but love the Filipino food.
    Find a way to do video. That would be awesome for instruction. Thanks and take care. Love the site.

  • Burnt Lumpia December 7, 2008, 10:42 am

    Lumpia and pancit are always a classic combo. Thanks Rachelle.
    Thanks rosy.
    Thanks for visiting my blog, melissa. I hope you enjoy your stay in the Philippines.
    Hello Juan. I’m glad my post helped you with your lumpia wrapping. I ordered the fight last night as well and of course was very happy with the outcome. Go Pacquiao!

  • Irene April 12, 2009, 4:34 pm

    You won’t believe how much I can understand you! Believe me they are all the same worldwide, all nagging and criticizing, definitely not the polite way.
    As if they have graduated of some kind of an international mother’s plotting school.
    Thank you from Greece for your (her’s after all) nice and “enlightening” recipe.

  • Anonymous September 12, 2009, 5:26 pm

    actually your mom quit nagging the minute you decided you wre interested in something filipino. we are very proud of our heritage and customs handed down to us and I can understand that instead of dropping nasty remarks she ended up loving you for wanting to share being a filino! mabuhay! 😉

  • Anonymous September 12, 2009, 5:30 pm

    ps that’s FILIPINO.
    and btw the preparation and cooking of lumpia is a festive thing. we don’t usually cook it unless there’s a party of birthday that’s why it’s an enjoyable affair to be shared in the setting of warm and loving camaraderie. 😉

  • Marie April 20, 2010, 2:36 am

    thanks for this recipe, i love lumpia fried

  • Mommy Blog May 25, 2010, 5:49 am

    Awesome photos..
    i love the pictures from step to step!!
    thanks for sharing your knowledge and sharing your talent to post these kind of blog..

  • Serene @ MomFoodProject September 25, 2010, 2:30 pm

    Someone at pointed me to this post during a thread on lumpia, and I’m so glad he did. I love your blog! Now I’m gonna go read it ALL. Well, at least for an hour or so.

  • Sarah Aguas October 22, 2010, 1:11 pm

    The dialogue between you and your mom really brings me back! My sister and I had a good lol. I’m going to try this recipe and hit up your truck, of course. Come to weho!

  • Eji November 26, 2010, 9:24 pm

    Word! Great blog Marvin! Your relationship with your mom reminds me of my relationship with my mom and my wife just doesn’t understand but seems to always get a laugh because of my mom’s heavy Filipino accent. Looking forward to some day opening and operating a Filipino food truck or restaurant with you as an inspiration!

  • Caroline February 25, 2012, 9:57 pm

    Aha! Proof for my “old” sister that Filipinos do make lumpia with potatoes in them! She swears my mother never used them. Of course, she is 10 years older so I think her mind is going! And I have never, ever seen square lumpia wrappers! I bet they make for a neater roll than the round ones here in the Seattle area.
    Love your site! My parents have long since passed away and your recipes bring back memories of all Filipino dishes they cooked for us.)

  • Dawn Meyer February 26, 2012, 8:54 am

    When I was young, my mother had a very close Filipino girfriend who would come over to our house and my mother and she would make lumpia rolls from scratch. When I mean scratch, I mean mixing water, salt and flour into a this paste which she would fry quickly to fill with vegtables and meat. She didn’t use the pre-made wrappers. They were so thin and delicate, but strong enough to hold the fillings when fried. Would anybody out there have this recepie for wrappers? I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find it. Thanks!

  • Vondella May 20, 2012, 3:56 pm

    I bookmarked your blog a few months ago and haven’t had a chance to peruse it more thoroughly until now. I grew up eating lumpia that were sold once a year at a local flower festival. I’ve used another recipe but will have to give yours a try with the green beans and potato. Thanks for sharing.
    Hope this is okay to post: To the person above who was wondering about finding a recipe for homemade wrappers, the cookbook Asian Dumplings includes a recipe for them. The author also has a how-to video posted on her blog.

  • Jason December 12, 2013, 7:15 pm

    Damn that was funny. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Tirazona September 30, 2016, 10:49 pm

    There are many ‘sauces’ to chose from. There’s the ‘Chinese’ plum sauce I’ve found at a few restaurants. Then there’s the Worcestershire sauce one; a few drops per bite suffices. There’s another but I can’t remember it at the moment.
    For Soy Sauce and Vinegar I use… I ‘flavor’ the oil that I use to cook the mixture before hand with garlic cloves – virtually burning them. Then I remove them to a bowl. Add about 1/2 cup of vinegar, then add the soy sauce so that the vinegar turns to almost the color of the soy sauce – probably about 2 or more teaspoons. You can adjust as you like. My dad used to add Tabasco sauce to that. My wife adds hot chili sauce with sesame oil.

    Me? I streamlined “our original’ recipe. No potatoes, green beans, higher meat proportion. I usually make them big – like burritos!! I call them “Filipino burrito’s to those whom don’t know about lumpia. 3 count Hoonah Tiger Prawns are an entirely different recipe, or way to cook; about 2 per lumpia!!! Chicken adobo lumpia YEAH!! Or just chicken is great! OH! HAM is a great one! The ham and cabbage combo make it great! I wanna try some: Teriyaki, Beef Inihaw, General Tso’s chicken… All of which would require adjustments to the cooking.


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