IATE Food Term of the Week: Lumpia

March 21, 2020 9:28 am

Spring rolls have become a mainstay of Asian food buffets all over the world. Spring rolls originate in China, where the first fresh spring vegetables were served wrapped in a thin wheat crêpe. European languages have adopted various names for this dish. In French, fried spring rolls are called nem, after the North Vietnamese version of spring rolls called Nem rán. The Polish call them sajgonk, after the Vietnamese city of Saigon. In Dutch, the generic name for spring rolls is loempia, after the Indonesian lumpia

Lumpia is also the name for the Filipino version of spring rolls. Chinese Hokkien traders brought the spring roll to the Philippines in the 7th century. “Lumpia” derives from the Hokkien word for spring roll, lun pia. Ubiquitous in Filipino cuisine, the wrapper of the Filipino lumpia is made of a thin egg crêpe, rather than the wheat crêpe common in other versions. 

Some of the most common varieties of lumpia include:

Lumpiang sariwa 

“Sariwa” (“fresh” in Filipino) refers to the fact that this lumpia is not fried. Lumpiang sariwa are filled with cooked meat or seafood, wrapped in lettuce, and then again wrapped in a fresh egg crêpe. The dish is served with a thick sweet and salty sauce and garnished with crushed roasted peanuts and minced garlic. This elaborate version of the lumpia is usually reserved for special occasions. 


Lumpiang gulay 

Lumpiang “gulay” (“vegetables”) are fried lumpia combining vegetables and a small amount of meat or shrimp. Carrots, (sweet) potatoes, green beans, cabbage, and bean sprouts are commonly used. The meat can be omitted or substituted for tofu for a vegetarian version. 


Lumpiang Shanghai

One of the easiest types of lumpia to prepare, yet one of the most popular. Despite the name, they have nothing to do with Shanghai. These deep-fried lumpia are filled with minced pork and are the smallest and thinnest of the lumpia variants. 


Countless individual variations of lumpia exist, depending on how each individual prepares it. This also means that there is no right or wrong way to prepare lumpia. Here is one recipe for lumpiang gulay, which can and should be modified according to your own tastes and preferences:


Lumpiang gulay 

makes about 30-40 lumpia

1 pack of large spring roll wrappers (available in most Asian groceries)

4 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 onion, finely diced

250 grams minced pork (omit for vegetarian version)

1 carrot, cut into thin slices or finely diced

100 g potato, finely diced

100 g green beans, trimmed and cut into thin slices or finely diced 

200 g bean sprouts

1 small cabbage, shredded

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

salt and pepper to taste


Put a large wok over medium heat and add oil. Fry the garlic and onion until translucent. Add the pork, if using, and cover wok with lid. Cook until the pork is no longer pink. Remove lid and stir in the diced carrots, potatoes, and green beans. Fry for 1 minute. Add the bean sprouts and fry for another minute. Add shredded cabbage, cover the wok, add soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking for 1-2 minutes. Remove the mixture from the wok, drain the liquid, and let cool completely. Wrapping the lumpia can take a bit of practice to get right. Check out this short video if you need help. Always wet the edges of the wrapper with water or a beaten egg to keep the lumpia together. When wrapped, place the lumpia in a deep-bottomed pan, filled with enough oil for frying, but not so much as to make them swim in the oil. Fry the lumpia on each side until golden brown. Let them cool and serve. 



Spring roll. Wikipedia. Accessed 11/03/2020.

Lumpia. Wikipedia. Accessed 11/03/2020. 

Lumpiang Gulay with Pork. Riverten Kitchen. Accessed 11/03/2020. 

My Favorite Lumpia. Via Times. Accessed 11/03/2020. 

Besa, A., Dorotan, R. 2014. Memories of Philippine Kitchens. New York: Abrams. 

Mastering These Spring Rolls Was My Filipino Rite of Passage. Food 52. Accessed 11/03/2020. 

How to Fold Spring Rolls in Under 1 Min. How To Cook Great (YouTube Channel). Accessed 19/03/2020.

Janna Mack

Edit imageBorn and raised in multilingual and multicultural Luxembourg, Janna speaks Luxembourgish, German, French, and English. She has degrees in Linguistics, Education, and Translation from the University of Glasgow, Scotland. She has experience in teaching English as a foreign language, administration, and web development. In her spare time, she enjoys art history, painting, and films.

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