From the bustling streets of Southeast Asia to the heart of European bistros, there lies a dish with a story as rich as its flavor: the Lumpia Isda. Rooted in the age-old traditions of Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisines, this rolled entree has woven its way into the culinary landscapes of countries far and wide.
Beginning as a humble flatbread filled with fresh spring vegetables, this dish emerged as a beacon of hope during the tail end of biting winters, signaling the bounty of spring. Today, whether savored during China’s Spring Festival or celebrated in the diverse traditions of countries from Mexico to Germany, the Lumpia Isda stands testament to the universal appeal of a good meal and the power of food to connect cultures. Dive in as we unravel the rich history, variations, and global influence of this beloved delicacy.
What is Lumpia Isda?
Lumpia Isda is a Filipino fish-filled spring roll. The name breaks down into “lumpia,” which is the Filipino take on the classic Chinese spring roll, and “isda,” the Tagalog word for fish.
To whip up Lumpia Isda, you’ll need to chop up some fish and mix it with easy-to-find veggies like carrots, onions, and cabbage. Add a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and a few spices, then roll the mix into a thin pastry sheet called a lumpia wrapper. Fry these rolls until they’re golden and crunchy.
You can munch on Lumpia Isda as a tasty starter or have it as your main meal. It pairs perfectly with a simple dip made of vinegar, soy sauce, and a touch of garlic. This beloved Filipino treat is a favorite both in its homeland and for Filipino communities worldwide.
- 1 large boneless bangus milkfish
- ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- ¾ cup minced jicama singkamas
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 8 pieces lumpia wrapper
- 2 stalks celery minced
- 1 medium yellow onion minced
- ½ cup minced carrot
- 1 egg
- 2 cups cooking oil
- Set your oven to 370F (188C).
- Lay the bangus on a baking sheet. Bake until it’s flaky, around 15 minutes.
- Take it out and let it cool. Then, remove the fish meat and put it in a bowl.
- Warm up 3 tablespoons of oil. When it’s hot, fry the onions and celery. Toss in the carrot and cook for a short half minute.
- Mix in the parsley and fish. Cook for another minute. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a big bowl.
- Add the minced singkamas and egg to the bowl. Mix well until everything’s combined.
- Slice the lumpia wrapper into two triangle pieces. Place one triangle flat, with the wider side at the bottom.
- Take 1 or 2 tablespoons of the fish mix and place it at the base of the wrapper. Shape it into a tight cylinder. Fold the sides of the wrapper over the filling, then roll it up from bottom to top. Seal the tip with some egg white or water. Continue until you use up all the mix. (For wrapping tips, see the video below.)
- Heat up the remaining oil. When it’s sizzling, fry the rolls, leaving some space in between. Fry each side until it’s a nice golden brown, roughly 2 to 3 minutes.
- Place them on a rack to let the excess oil drip off.
- Serve them up with your preferred sauce.
- Share and enjoy!
How to prepare lumpia isda?
Nothing beats the taste and satisfaction of homemade culinary delights. That’s precisely what making lumpia isda offers. While there are simpler Filipino dishes to start with, lumpia isda is beginner-friendly and absolutely rewarding.
The three pillars of crafting an authentic lumpia isda are the fish selection, the filling, and the accompanying dipping sauce. Let’s dive into each step in detail:
Choosing the Fish:
The beauty of lumpia isda is its versatility. While some might enjoy shrimp versions, purists often prefer Maya-Maya (red snapper), Lapu-Lapu (epinephelinae), or Labahita. Common choices in the Philippines include Galunggong (mackerel) and Milkfish. If those aren’t available, groundfish or tuna make excellent substitutes.
Start by boiling a mixture of water (1-2 cups) with a tablespoon of salt in a pan. Once it’s boiling, add your fish of choice after removing its head. Let it simmer briefly, drain, and then set it aside.
The Flavorful Filling:
Begin with the basics: garlic and onions, which lay the foundation for the lumpia’s taste. Sauté minced garlic and chopped onions in some oil, ideally in the same pan you used for the fish. Don’t miss out on vegetables – they provide texture and depth. While carrots are a popular choice, consider adding water chestnuts and mushrooms too. Once your carrots are slightly browned, finish off with a sprinkle of parsley, celery, and a dash of soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
Frying the Rolls:
Prep your lumpia wrappers. Spoon in your filling, add your preferred amount of fish, and seal the edges with a touch of water. Then, fry these rolls until they’re a crispy golden hue. Oils with high smoke points, like canola or peanut oil, are recommended.
No lumpia experience is complete without dipping sauce. While classics like ketchup always work, consider spiced vinegar or even chili sauce for an extra kick.
Remember, cooking is as much about experimenting as it is about following a recipe. Enjoy the process and tailor your lumpia to your tastes!
Recipe Tips and Variations
- Feel free to experiment with various fish choices. While we’ve opted for mackerel, salmon, tuna, or even whitefish make delicious alternatives.
- No fresh ginger? No worries! Incorporate ¼ teaspoon of its powdered form when frying the ingredients.
- Craving a spicy kick? Infuse your lumpia mix with a touch of cayenne pepper.
- For a plant-based twist, skip the fish and amp up the veggies in the recipe.
- Enjoying lumpia when it’s freshly made is the best. However, if you have extras, they’ll keep well in the fridge for a couple of days. Just ensure you warm them up in the oven or a skillet before digging in.
Can You Freeze Lumpia?
If you’re looking to enjoy your lumpia later, it’s ideal to freeze them before frying.
Steps to Freeze Lumpia Prior to Frying:
- Let the prepared lumpia rolls cool down, then line them up on a baking tray.
- Securely cover them with plastic wrap and place in the freezer. Give it a few hours or let them sit overnight until they’re thoroughly frozen.
- Once frozen stiff, shift the lumpia into a zip-lock bag, pushing out any extra air to keep them fresh. For an extra layer of protection, you can also use a freezer-safe container and wrap it with aluminum foil.
- This lumpia can be stored like this for up to three months.
When you’re ready to feast, no need to wait! Fry the lumpia straight from the freezer.
How to Serve Lumpia Isda?
Lumpia, with its crispy exterior, pairs wonderfully with a variety of dipping sauces. A favorite choice is sweet chili sauce, and this easy 5-ingredient Hot and Sweet Dipping Sauce is a top recommendation. If spicy isn’t your style, opt for the timeless Sweet and Sour Sauce instead.
Thinking of a complete meal? Elevate your dining experience by complementing your lumpia with savory Garlic Fried Rice. Alternatively, kick off a Filipino feast by presenting lumpia as a starter, followed by a hearty main like Caldereta.
Lumpia Isda represents the rich tapestry of Filipino cuisine, melding the tastes of the sea with the crispy delight of a well-made spring roll. Its versatility in fish choices, pairing with various dipping sauces, and ability to be both a show-stealing main or a tantalizing appetizer make it a dish beloved by many.
Whether you’re enjoying it fresh, storing it for later, or experimenting with flavors, Lumpia Isda is a testament to the flavorful and adaptive nature of Filipino culinary traditions. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a kitchen newbie, this dish invites all to partake in a bite of Philippine culture.