Guide To The Different Kinds of Lumpia

Do you know how many kinds of Filipino spring rolls there are?

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The Filipino lumpia is a kind of Asian spring roll, usually fried and rolled like cigars. It can be stuffed with any number of fillings but the most popular ones are those filled with savory pork. There are also the vegetable stuffed ones and even the dessert versions of the lumpia. 

Since Filipino cuisine is filled with dishes from different influences from other cultures, the lumpia is one of those dishes that the locals absorbed and made their own. The fried lumpia is the most popular and the most well-known to Filipinos, but there is also the fresh lumpia or lumpiang sariwa which is made with a soft, freshly made wrapper instead of one that needs to be fried to a crisp.

Lumpia are commonly stuffed with many ingredients. These ingredients may or may not include meat but the majority of the ingredients are actually vegetables. The lumpia is actually Chinese in origin. These are considered snacks and are said to have been in existence since the Jin Dynasty or 266 AD. That might explain why these are called "spring rolls" since these are commonly eaten during the "spring" or the Chinese New Year where it's part of the dim sum platters. These are appetizers and are not meant to be that filling. (That's what the main dishes are for!) Besides, having different kinds of vegetables is a great sign of a bountiful harvest and thus, prosperity and wealth.

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There are many ways you can make lumpia, but one thing is certain: Pinoys love lumpia. It falls under two main categories: the fried and the fresh. Here are the different kinds of lumpia:

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Lumpiang Shanghai

This is certainly a popular version of the lumpia. Stuffed with a meaty mixture, this is the Shanghai-style of fried spring rolls. These are meaty lumpia with a filling made of ground pork and cabbage or carrots and seasoned with salt, pepper, and soy sauce for a little flavor.

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The filling for the lumpiang Shanghai can vary and does not have to be ground pork. One of the most common versions includes ground shrimp mixed with ground pork. You can swap out the ground pork and use ground beef instead or you can even use chicken or fish. Amp up the umami and add dried mushrooms to the mix. The main idea behind this version of the lumpia is that it's the meatiest of all kinds of lumpia.

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Lumpiang Togue

If you're looking for a vegetable version of the lumpiang shanghai, this would be the version that uses togue or bean sprouts instead of meat. This is the most drastic tweak to the recipe, and it's an easy and filling swap. The bean sprouts are the main ingredient, and it's accompanied by slivers of carrots, cabbage, onions, and sometimes, a little bit of ground pork or chicken to give it that meaty taste that you might miss in your lumpia.

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Lumpiang Gulay

The other vegetable version of the lumpia is the lumpiang gulay. While this might sound like another version of the lumpiang togue, the lumpiang gulay isn't made up of just mostly togue. This version takes the "gulay" seriously. These lumpia are loaded with other vegetables. These can range from different kinds of kamote or sweet potatoes, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and even green beans sliced thinly. The meat meanwhile is commonly swapped with chunks of tofu or tokwa or rehydrated dried mushrooms to give it a boost in umami.

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Turon

Among the fried lumpia, many consider the turon in a world of its own. In reality, the turon is really just a sweet version of the lumpia. Where other lumpia are stuffed with meat and vegetables, the turon is a rolled-up lumpia with a sugar-coated banana inside. You can even level-up the banana filling and add ube or langka, or even swap it out completely with another sweet filling. 

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Fresh Lumpia

The other kind of lumpia is the fresh lumpia, otherwise known as the lumpiang sariwa. The fresh lumpia is not fried. Instead, the lumpia wrapper is a tender thin pancake-like wrap that is used to enclose a filling. Since this kind of lumpia isn't cooked again, the filling is commonly already cooked or otherwise ready-to-eat before it's placed in the wrapper. This wrapper is unique in that while it's cooked similarly to a normal lumpia wrapper, it's actually thicker and softer than the firm wrapper you use for the fried versions. It's this wrapper that distinctly differentiates the fresh lumpia from the fried lumpia.

This lumpia is loaded with vegetables: it's got lots of garlic, onion, cabbage, carrots, green beans, singkamas or jicama, kamote, and tokwa. It even has a fresh lettuce leaf that serves as the ultimate garnish of this veggie lumpia. Not only that, this version of the lumpia is served with a thick sweet sauce that's made from soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and crushed peanuts.

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Chinese Lumpia

The fresh lumpia and the Chinese version are not that different but make no mistake. There is a difference and it's the crispy fried sotanghon and dried hoti seaweed that's added to the filling. The noodles are softened, cut into small strands, and deep-fried until crisp. It's tossed with the umami-loaded seaweed flakes and added to the filling right before being enclosed and served with the customary lettuce leaf.

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Lumpiang Hubad

This may sound contradictory but this lumpia doesn't have a wrapper at all. In fact, that's why it's called hubad or "naked". The lumpiang hubad is basically your fresh lumpiang sariwa served without the wrapper. It's also common to find this lumpia made of ubod or heart of palm. Think of it as a fuss-free lumpia since there's no need to roll and enclose the filling in a wrapper. It's a simple hack that shouts super flavorful since the filling is really what many of us are after. 

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