Lumpia, just like the Adobo, is a staple dish of any Filipino festivities. Weddings, birthday parties, and fiestas will never be complete without it. Much like Pancit, and its ton of variants, our featured dish for this article is a quintessential recipe for every occasion.
Many Filipinos are familiar with this recipe. Others even have these Chinese-inspired spring rolls on their list of favorite dishes. But no matter how typical this recipe is, there are still times that we may find it difficult to perfect: at times, it gets too soggy quickly, or the filling seeps out while frying.
But don’t worry, because we got you covered: that’s why we wrote this article in the first place. To help you become a better cook in the kitchen, and guide how to cook the Best Fish Lumpia that your loved ones are guaranteed to fall in love with.
What is Fish Lumpia
Lumpia is the Filipino take on the classic Chinese dish called spring roll. Different kinds of meat can be used for the filling, but this article will use Bangus, a meaty variety of fish. The proteins are then sauteed with aromatics to incorporate the flavors, then once they are cooked adequately, that’s the time to wrap them in the lumpia wrapper.
The significant difference they have with the traditional spring roll is the wrapper. The spring roll of the Chinese cuisine is typically much thicker and wider, which results in a meatier and fuller roll. While the Filipino lumpia uses a thinner wrapper, usually made from a mixture of flour and water, thus giving that crunchy texture once they are deep-fried to perfection.
The traditional Filipino take on this Chinese dish uses ground pork, most commonly known as Lumpiang Shanghai. However, for this recipe, we will be using Bangus, the national fish of the Philippines. This species of fish is one of the most commonly cultivated fish in the country.
They are known for their firm meat and bony structure, making them the perfect substitute for ground pork.
We can trace our love for Lumpia from the influence of the Chinese people, who came to our shores long before the Spaniards colonized the country. The name lumpia came from the Hokkien word, lumpia, which roughly translates as soft cake. During those times, this dish is commonly sold by hawkers or peddlers on the streets.
Ways to Cook Fish lumpia
In general, fish lumpia and lumpia are traditionally cooked by deep-frying them until they are perfectly crisp and golden brown. This method gives them their distinct and sought-after crunchy texture, perfect for other savory dishes. But thanks to the advancement of technology, there are now a few different ways that you can cook this delectable treat other than deep-frying.
And if you happen to have this modern kitchen equipment at home, then you’re in luck. We have a list of other cooking methods that you can try and see which one works best for you.
The stovetop cooker is one of the most common kitchen equipment found in many Filipino households. This is because stovetop cookers are easily accessible and more affordable than most modern cooking appliances. The replacement parts needed in case they get broken can be secured easily in nearby markets and hardware stores.
There are two common types of stovetop cookers; the first is the LPG-fueled type, the standard cooker for most Filipino kitchens. The heat comes from the flames coming out from the burners and is controlled by the dial in front of the cooker.
The other type is the electric stovetop cooker, which uses electric conduction to heat the cooking pot or pan. The electricity travels to the plate, which then transfers the heat to the pan, which causes it to heat up.
Both use the same principle: using direct heat for cooking food, which can then be controlled using a dial to adjust the amount of heat you need for the dish you’re cooking. Any type of cooking pan or pot can be used, so long as it can hold a high amount of heat.
Use a deep-bottomed pan for this recipe: heat a generous amount of cooking oil and allow it to reach its boiling point. Once you’re set and done assembling the lumpia pieces, deep fry them in the oil. Do not overcrowd the cooking vessel as it will lower the oil’s temperature, leading to soggy products.
The instant pot is the upgraded cousin of the pressure cooker. Upgraded meaning, at its core, the instant pot still uses pressure to cook food quickly: but it can also do the functions of some other cooking equipment such as steamer, frying pan, and rice cooker.
And since this piece of kitchen equipment is a multi-cooker, you can use it to fry our Fish Lumpia. There’s a setting in the instant pot that you can select to fry foods: assemble the Lumpia and then pre-heat the pot to ensure that the oil temperature is enough to fry the lumpia pieces.
Make sure to turn the lumpia pieces from time to time to ensure that all sides are cooked enough. Be mindful that the instant pot does not function as a deep fryer, so check the pieces that you’re frying.
This modern piece of kitchen appliance is making a name for itself in the past couple of years. With the dawn of healthier food options and people making a switch to a healthier lifestyle, Air fryers are the best choice for them. This allows you to cook food with a little to no oil amount but still get the same crispy-fried goodness.
The air fryer uses dry heat that circulates inside the cooker. This heat is being fanned down by small fans situated at the top portion of the fryer. This causes the heated air to rapidly move inside the fryer, which acts like a deep fryer, minus the oil. This is why health-conscious individuals choose to air-fry their foods since it gives them the same result as a regular deep fryer.
For this method, make sure to have your Fish Lumpia ready beforehand: then make sure to preheat the air fryer and sprinkle it with cooking spray or damp it with a little cooking oil to prevent the rolls from sticking to the bottom. Again, just damp the bottom of the fryer and not pour oil into it or spray some of it to the food itself just to lock in the moisture.
Once you’re ready, put the egg rolls into the basket and let the air fryer do its magic. It might sound misleading. However, this is needed to ensure that the food you’re cooking will not dry out.
Oven-baking is probably one of the oldest cooking techniques known to man. Archaeological evidence proves that since time immemorial, people have been using this cooking method for their foods. Oven-baking is a very versatile cooking method since you can utilize it for savory dishes and desserts.
Oven-baking food has a ton of benefits. First is that it locks in the moisture of the food, thus preventing them from drying out. The juices are also locked inside the food, making sure that the dish retains its optimal flavor. Oven baking also ensures the food is cooked all the way through.
A few types of ovens are available in the market: electric, convection, gas-powered, microwave, and oven toaster. All of which uses the same principle in cooking food: heated air circulating inside the appliance, creating a heated environment that cooks food.
The cooking process is the same, whichever type of oven you have: the only difference might come from what kind of power the oven uses. The preparation is the same: make sure to have your Lumpia ready to lessen the preparation time.
Preheat the oven for about ten minutes before you put in the rolls. Then on a baking pan, line it up with parchment paper damped with cooking oil to prevent it from sticking to the pan. Then bake the lumpia for about 20 minutes or until all of them are golden brown on all sides.
Other Delicious Variants
Fish Lumpia is an equally famous variant of the Lumpiang Shanghai, the mother of all Chinese-inspired spring rolls of Philippine cuisine. We should not be surprised that our creative cooks could come up with this variant since big bodies of water surround the country.
Aquatic life naturally abounds our ocean, so it is only natural to use them for our homegrown dishes. Here are some of the well-known variants of Fish Lumpia that you can try at home to give you an idea.
Galunggong Fish Lumpia
Galunggong or mackerel scad is a famous fish variety in the Philippines. It was so affordable back then that it was even called the “poor man’s fish” due to its affordability and availability. Its taste is also undeniably flavorful making it a perfect protein for our lumpia.
The process for making Galunggong Fish Lumpia is the same as the original variant. But for a more flavorful filling, we recommend that you simmer the galunggong in vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic to infuse the meat with the taste of the aromatics. This highlights the natural savory flavor of the fish.
Then once you’re done simmering the galunggong, that’s the time to flake the meat and mix it with the ingredients indicated in the recipe. Do not add any other seasonings: salt and pepper are enough to taste the filling. Then proceed with the rest of the cooking process. Fry them until the rolls are golden brown on all sides.
Yellow-fin Tuna Fish Lumpia
Another equally famous fish variety in the Philippines is Tulingan, a species of tuna. This fish’s general term is yellowfin tuna, coming from the distinctive dorsal fin, which is bright yellow, hence the name.
Compared to the original recipe, which uses bangus as the filling protein, tulingan is on the more expensive side. Since the supply of tuna is generally coming from the Southernmost provinces of the country, the price is high compared to the more commonly cultivated species of fishes.
What makes this variety popular is the taste of it and the firmness of the meat. Though cooking this variety is the same as the original, there is a clear distinction when it comes to taste and texture. Tulingan meat is moist when cooked and has bigger and chunkier flakes.
It is best to simmer the tulingan in aromatics first to remove the fishy scent and give it a more distinctive flavor. Once the meat cools down, flake them and saute with the aromatics which the recipe suggests. Then assemble the lumpia, and deep fry them until crisp.
Salmon Fish Lumpia
If you’re feeling generous and fancy, why not up the ante of your Fish Lumpia and use salmon. This luxurious fish is a popular entry in restaurant menus due to its taste and texture. Japanese use them for sushi and sashimi, while other cooks use them for fish steaks.
If your budget does not allow you to procure the fresh variety of salmon, you can opt-in for the canned ones. They are already cooked and flaked, and you only need to drain the water that’s in the can. The canned salmon is easier to use and relatively cheaper than the fresh varieties.
But whichever variety you use, make sure to flake them before sauteing and mixing them in with the rest of the ingredients. Then roll them in the lumpia wrapper and deep fry until golden brown and crispy.
Milkfish, which is the most commonly cultivated type of fish in the country, can grow to a length of about 1.8 meters, making it one of the largest cultivated fish for human consumption. Almost all fishpond owners in the Philippines grow milk fishes.
Since Fish Lumpia is a famous offering in any Filipino celebration, we want you to be the best in cooking this recipe. So we listed down a few cooking tips for you to be just that.
- Since you will be needing to debone the milkfish before flaking it, you might as well simmer it with aromatics to incorporate flavors into it.
- Do not overcrowd the cooking pot when frying; this is to maintain the oil’s temperature for frying. This prevents the lumpia from becoming soggy.
If you encounter trouble while cooking Fish Lumpia, don’t worry because we also have a list of troubleshooting tips that you can use to remedy your kitchen dilemma.
- If your Lumpia turned out to be soggy, what you can do is put them in the fridge and then refry them. This will rehydrate the lumpia wrappers, which creates a crunchy exterior.
- If the wrapper is somewhat rubbery in texture, chances are you could not heat the oil to its optimal level. So just refry the lumpia in hot oil for about two minutes, and make sure that each roll is submerged in oil.
Best Serve With
Fish Lumpia can be eaten on its own: the crispy and flavorful filling is enough to satisfy your festive cravings. But for a more enjoyable dining experience, why not pair it with a few other dishes like the ones that we have on the list.
We all know that our featured recipe is a staple offering in any festivities or special occasions, so it is only natural that we pair it with an equally festive dish, and that’s Pancit Sotanghon. The contrast of textures makes them a perfect pair.
Filipinos love rice: we can pair any rice dishes, whether it be plain rice or garlic rice. And for that matter, Fish Lumpia is the suitable pair with this flavorful Mexican-inspired rice dish.
We love to eat, and that cannot be denied. And Filipinos eat almost five times a day. And we can never deny that we love meriendas: the snack time after lunch and before dinner. And one of the best merienda snacks that we know is Puto Pao.
Cooking dishes that represent our festive and joyous culture can be challenging, but that makes someone a great cook. The more our culinary skills are challenged, the more that we become better in our craft. So keep challenging yourself, and don’t worry because we’re here to guide you and provide you with the steps you need.
And with all the information that we have in this article, we are more than confident that you’ll be able to nail Fish Lumpia hassle-free. So never stop learning and never stop exploring. Until next time, happy cooking!
For more delicious recipe, please visit Eat Like Pinoy!
Best Fish Lumpia Recipe
- 1 pc Milkfish (Bangus) large, boiled and shredded
- 8 pcs Lumpia wrapper
- 2 stalks Celery minced
- 1 pc Onion large, cubed
- 1 pc Carrot small, cubed
- 1/4 cup Parsley minced
- 1/4 cup Jicama (Singkamas) cubed
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Ground black pepper
- 1 pc Egg
- 2 cups Cooking oil
- In large bowl, mix shredded Bangus with celery, onion, carrot, parsley and singkamas.
- Season with salt and pepper. Then mix well.
- Scoop 1 to 2 tablespoons of the fish mixture and arrange on the lower part of the wrapper. Mold using your hands to form a long cylinder and partially press to compress the mixture. Secure the filling by folding both sides of the wrapper inwards until the mixture is covered.
- Roll the wrapper starting from the bottom to the top. Dip your finger in egg and rub it over the tip of the wrapper to make it sticky. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a pan. Once the oil gets hot enough, start to fry the fish lumpia for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Turn over to cook the other side.
- Transfer to a cooling rack. Let the oil drip.
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. Enjoy!