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FESTIVE FOOD: Lumpia for Christmas

Marjorie Benignos, from left, Angel Aylward and Jocelyn Romero display a plateful of ready-to-eat lumpia, a traditional dish in their native Philippines. They were making it for a pre-Christmas feast in Tignish.
Marjorie Benignos, from left, Angel Aylward and Jocelyn Romero display a plateful of ready-to-eat lumpia, a traditional dish in their native Philippines. They were making it for a pre-Christmas feast in Tignish. - Eric McCarthy

Filipinos sharing traditional dishes

ST. FELIX

Angel Bayarcal Aylward is placing a lot of hope on Santa Claus, or his representative, to deliver her a new deep-fryer for Christmas.

Since moving to P.E.I. from the Philippines nearly three and a half years ago, Aylward had grown accustomed to using a deep-fryer for cooking her traditional Filipino dishes. It’s easier to regulate the temperature of the hot fat and it’s safer, too, she agrees.

Recently though, as she and her friends prepared for a big pre-Christmas Filipino Feast at the Tignish Parish Centre, Aylward and her lumpia-making team, had to resort to cooking their popular dish in an open pot.

And, yes, Filipinos refer to the gift-bearing man in the red suit as Santa Claus.

About 40 Filipinos, mostly fish plant workers in Tignish and area, had divided themselves into groups to prepare traditional dishes for the big feast, a meal they were sharing with invited Canadian friends and co-workers.
Lumpia is served as a finger food or as one of the ingredients in a meal which almost certainly would include rice.

Once the wrappers are loaded and rolled, they are normally cut into two to three pieces before deep-frying. They can also be frozen raw and then dunked, still frozen, into the hot fat.

Aylward recommends against freezing cooked lumpia, as they would lose their desired crunchiness.

Aylward and her team, which includes Jocelyn Romero and Marjorie Benignos, was in charge of supplying the lumpia. It’s a popular dish in the Philippines at Christmastime and for other special occasions, they note. Their Canadian friends call the dish spring roll.

“It looks like spring rolls; that’s why they call it spring rolls,” said Aylward, but she insists the two are not otherwise similar. She’s proud of the traditional dish and a recipe for it which was passed down from her mother.

How many would one consume in one serving? “It depends, because we have rice,” Aylward answered.

“If there is no rice, more than five,” Benignos suggested.

The dish’s popularity, which might help explain the need for a new deep-fryer, is such that it was a must-have for her wedding reception when she married Derek Aylward in Tignish in October, 2016. She and her friends prepared 500 of the tubular-shaped treats, and there were no leftovers.

The friends use lumpia wrappers they’ve found at a Chinese food store and said they are similar to the ones they used back home.

They are crepe pastry skins, thinner and larger than the egg-roll skins used locally.

The key ingredient for the filling is ground pork, which is combined with chopped onion, carrots and bell pepper.

Other popular dishes for the Filipinos include

Kaldereta – a stew in which the once traditional goat meat has been replaced with pork or beef; Pancit – a noodle dish; Spaghetti; Several sweet and sour dishes that use either pork, beef or fish; Pork lechon – a whole-roasted pig; Ham, for those who can afford it; Igado – includes pork meat and liver.

Lumpia (Spring rolls) recipe

Ingredients

One pound ground pork * One onion, chopped * One carrot, chopped * One-half bell pepper, chopped * One tsp salt * One tsp ground pepper * One whole egg

*Lumpia wrappers

Procedure

Mix first seven ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Arrange small amount lengthwise along leading edge of wrapper. Roll up. Moisten trailing edge with bit of water to seal. Cook in oil until lightly browned.

 

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