Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lumpia Basah Khas Bandung--Fresh Lumpia Bandung Style

In the United States, most people think of Filipino-style fried lumpia when they hear of lumpia. Long, thin spring rolls packed with pork and shrimp and fried until crisp, Filipino spring rolls are delicious, but they are a totally different animal than these fresh lumpia from Bandung in West Java.  Lumpia basah are more akin to the popiah you can find in Malaysia and Singapore.  Essentially a crepe with a sweet/savory filling of jicama, beansprouts, and eggs, these are a cheap, satisfying snack hawkers sell in Bandung.

As they are not fried, lumpia basah could be considered a healthful snack.  With bean sprouts and jicama both being low in calories and relatively high in fiber, these lumpia can be enjoyed without feeling guilty.  The various components of the lumpia can be prepared ahead of time, but they should not be assembled until shortly before you eat them.  If they are assembled and rolled hours ahead of time, the wrappers are prone to split and come apart. 

Although you could purchase the lumpia wrappers from an Asian market (look for "pastry wrappers" made in the Philippines in the frozen section) making your own is not difficult.  The frozen ones are very thin, but they also are more brittle, without the flexibility of fresh wrappers.  The recipe I use for the skins does not produce as thin a wrapper as the commercial ones, but Tjing prefers it to the frozen ones.

Lumpia Basah Khas Bandung--Fresh Lumpia, Bandung Style

For the wrappers
1 1/3 cups (200 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup + 2 TBS (200 ml) water
2/3 cup egg whites (5 to 6)
1 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and salt.  With a whisk, stir in the egg whites. Then add half the water, stirring until fairly smooth.  Whisk in the remaining water and continue stirring for about five minutes.  Set the mixture aside and allow to rest for at least 40 minutes.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat.  Lightly brush with oil.  Ladle enough batter in to form an 8-inch crepe, using the bottom of the ladle to spread the mixture as needed.  As soon as the edges begin to lift from the pan, flip the crepe and cook briefly on the other side.  Each crepe should take about 25 to 30 seconds total.  Continue until all the batter is used.  This should make around 10 wrappers.

For the filling
1 jicama (about 1 pound/ 450 grams) peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 cups beansprouts
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) palm sugar (gula jawa), grated
1/3 cup water
1 tsp +/- salt
2 TBS tapioca starch
7 cloves of garlic, pounded to a paste
1 tsp ground white pepper
2 TBS oil

In a large pan that will hold the jicama easily, dissolve the palm sugar in the water and bring to a boil. Remove two tablespoons of this syrup and mix with the tapioca starch in a small bowl.  Add the jicama to the remaining sugar mixture and stir to coat well.  Cook over medium heat until the liquid is absorbed, and the jicama has softened and browned.

Heat a wok or large frying pan.  Add the oil and stir-fry the garlic and white pepper until fragrant.  Stir in the beaten eggs and scramble them.  After eggs are lightly scrambled, stir in the cooked jicama.  Cook for a minute or two before adding the beansprouts and salt.  Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.  As soon as the beansprouts begin to become limp, transfer the mixture to a bowl.

To assemble the lumpia, spread the bottom half of a wrapper with a spoonful of the tapioca starch thickened syrup.  Place a generous amount of the filling atop the wrapper.  Fold and roll like a burrito, folding in the two sides and then rolling until enclosed.  If you like, you can cut them into three or four pieces, but I think they're best enjoyed by scarfing the lumpia whole, bite by bite.

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