The Filipino Lumpia Shanghai are those crisp, little egg rolls with a ground pork filling mixed in scallions, shrimps, carrots and more. Once you get your hands on a bunch, dip them right away in the accompanying spicy sweet-sour sauce. Cherish the crunch in each bite, enjoy the punch of the spicy Asian sweet-sour sauce. This is a classic in most Filipino homes. It’s probably one of the most recognizable Filipino dishes anywhere in the world.
Super bowl Sunday is this weekend here in America. Even if I’m not a football fanatic, I get caught up in the excitement all over the country. Some of the things that excite many are the halftime show, the new television ads aired, and the plethora of food cooked and consumed in one Sunday afternoon by fans watching from all over. We’ve had our share of Super bowl parties we’ve been invited to in our neighborhood. When I bring a Filipino dish, like these Lumpia Shanghai, it is always a hit and eaten up long before the opening kick. I brought a platter of this crunchy egg rolls to a neighbor’s party, and within ten minutes of my arrival, they were gone. They were finished up by famished guests who kept asking me for more.
Many friends here in America have asked me why there is such a Chinese dish in Filipino cooking. Chinese influences in Filipino cuisine were apparent long before the Spaniards colonized the Philippines in the 16th century. Next to the pancit noodles, the lumpia (say ‘ loom-pyah’), the meat-filled egg roll is one of the most popular contributions of the Chinese to our Filipino menu. Typically, Filipinos call it Lumpia Shanghai, although there is no such item in Shanghai, the city (as described in the book Pinoy Umami, The Heart of Philippine Cuisine).
But no matter what the origin is, these scrumptious Filipino egg rolls with the zesty sweet-sour sauce are a timeless crowd-pleaser. And whatever team you’re rooting for, this is the kind of appetizer or entree that unifies, and everyone agrees on.
Filipino Lumpia Shanghai - Pork-filled Egg Rolls with Sweet Sour Sauce
- Large skillet or Wok: 12 to 14 inches diameter
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/2 pound fresh shrimps peeled, tails removed, chopped
- 1 whole medium-sized white onion chopped
- 2 stalks scallion whites chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped carrot
- 4 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon shao xing rice wine
- 3 whole eggs divided, use 2 for pork mixture, the other for egg wash to wrap
- 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 24 pieces lumpia egg roll wrappers thawed at room temperature
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil divided, use 1 Tablespoon for sweet-sour sauce, rest for deep frying lumpia
- 1/3 cup tomato ketchup for sweet-sour sauce
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water for diluting cornstarch
- 2 stalks scallion greens chopped, for garnish
- for serving: boiled rice
- Prepare the filling: Combine in a large bowl the ground pork, scallions, garlic, carrots, soy sauce, eggs, flour, rice wine, salt, and pepper. Blend and incorporate ingredients well. Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to an hour, for easier handling.
- Thaw the egg roll wrappers at room temperature. Place them on a dry surface. They should still be cold, and not handled in an environment that’s too hot. I’ve found the wrappers melted and got pudgy,were difficult to separate from the rest, when left too long at room temperature.
- Place one wrapper on a flat, clean and dry surface. Take a level tablespoon of ground pork filling and place it lengthwise, shaped like a long stick in the middle of the egg roll wrapper.
- Roll the meat-filled wrapper, starting with the edge closest to you. Roll it away from you, shaped like a thin cigar. Tuck in the left and right edges, and keep rolling. Seal the edges with egg wash (combine one whole beaten egg and 1/4 cup water).
- To cook the egg rolls: In a large skillet, over medium high heat, add half a cup of vegetable oil. Make sure oil temperature is hot enough, but not burning. If the oil is not hot enough, the egg rolls will NOT be crisp. (Tip: Heat the oil until it reaches 350 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer.*)
- Deep fry the egg rolls a few at a time. Try 6 to 8 pieces in a large non-stick 10-inch skillet. Do not overcrowd the egg rolls or they will not be crisp. For this quantity in a skillet, it will take 2 to 3 minutes for the egg rolls to fry evenly. Use tongs to move them around the skillet. Turn them around every 50 seconds to 1 minute.
- When cooked, drain the egg rolls on paper towels or parchment paper to remove excess oil. This will maintain the crispness in the egg rolls. Cut the 8 inch egg rolls in half with a sharp pair of kitchen scissors, for tinier servings of about 2-inches long.
- Continue to deep fry the next batch of egg rolls. If needed, add a little more cooking oil. Maintain the correct high heat of the cooking oil to get the desired crispness for the egg rolls.
- To cook the Sweet-Sour Sauce: In a small sauce pan add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. When oil is hot after 1 to 2 minutes, add the ketchup. Then pour the vinegar and water. Mix in the sugar and red pepper flakes. Continue cooking. In a small bowl, dilute the cornstarch with the cold water till there are no lumps. When the ketchup mixture in the sauce pan boils, add the cornstarch mix. Stir and blend till it is thick. Serve this sauce on the side of the crisp, warm Lumpia Shanghai.
- Serve the Lumpia Shanghai with the sweet sour sauce on the side plus rice if served as a main course.
- Cook's Comments: Plan meals ahead. Make several Lumpia Shanghai or egg rolls and keep them in plastic freezer bags with resealable tops. Portion the egg rolls in bags according to how many your family consumes in a meal. This makes it easier for you to thaw the egg rolls during weeknights for quick meals. For e.g., for 2 to 4 servings I place 8 to 10 uncooked egg rolls in a plastic bag in the freezer, and repeat according to how many meals we plan to have it.
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