For those of you who don’t know me, I come from a multi-cultural family. My mom is Canadian (aka: Euro-mix) and my dad is Filipino. I grew up eating a lot of different cuisine and I was also taught to try a food before saying I don’t like it. Dinners in our home would be adobo, pencit, tinola, lumpia…and the list goes on. Most dishes are served with rice or noodles and they feature salty, bitter or sour flavors balanced perfectly with all of the ingredients. The dish I get the most excited for is lechon, a slow roasted suckling pig. Crispy skin and lots of pork belly to snatch up. My mouth is watering as I write this. If you haven’t tried it then you definitely should!
My lovely hubby to be recorded No Reservations for me last night while I was at work. He thought I’d want to see the Philippines episode and he was right. It really made me miss my dad and his amazing cooking, some things you just can’t take with you when you leave the nest. It inspired me to do a Filipino dinner for the two of us. It would have my own little spin on it of course and since I’m a Canadian Filipina I thought it was fitting if it’s not exact to tradition. Gotta represent ya know?
I settled on a menu of pork belly adobo, lumpia and dessert lumpia (I can never remember what it’s called but my dad used to make them all the time when I lived at home). Brown sugar and plantain (large starchy banana) wrapped in a lumpia wrapper and deep fried. Yum. You can find all of the ingredients at your local Asian supermarket like T&T. I like the variety of different Asian foods they offer and there is one about 4 minutes from our home so it’s very convenient.
Here is an example shopping list that you will need for this dinner.
2 lbs pork belly with ribs
1 lb ground pork
1 white onion
2 heads of garlic
2 green onion stalks
chunk of ginger
1 1/2 cups soy sauce
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 small carrot
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 package small lumpia/spring roll wrappers
First thing is to heat your oven to 375F. Line a large baking dish with tin foil and put a wire cooling rack on top. Place the pork belly rib side down on top of the rack and season with a little bit of salt and pepper. Pour over top the juice of 2 limes, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, minced garlic, sliced ginger (1/2 of the chunk) and chili flakes. Tightly cover with tin foil then roast for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Remove the tin foil at the end and continue to roast for another 30-45 minutes or until the top is brown and the meat is fork tender. You might have to place it in another pan if the liquid dried up to prevent any burned flavor.
While that’s going you can make your fillings for the lumpia. In a large bowl mix finely sliced green onion, shredded carrot, minced garlic, minced ginger and 1 lb ground pork. In another bowl mix diced plantain, 3 tablespoons brown sugar and 3 tablespoons peanut butter. You can also make your dipping sauce for the pork lumpia. In a small bowl mix 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup vinegar, julienne ginger, minced garlic, a couple drops of sesame oil and chili flakes. The longer it has to sit together the better it will taste.
Get yourself organized and make a rolling station: bowl with the fillings, 1 large plate for the finished lumpia, 1 large plate to roll them on, 1 small plate for the wrappers (keep them wrapped in a damp paper towel to keep them pliable) and a bowl with 2 beaten eggs.
To make the lumpia, place 1 wrapper on the small plate in a diamond shape. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling about 2/3 of the way down the wrapper. Form it into a cylinder shape then wrap the bottom corner of the wrapper over the filling and use it to form the filling a bit more. Roll the filling up until it’s all covered by the wrapper. Using your finger, wet the remaining corner of the wrapper with the eggs, then fold one side down and pull the corner towards the center. Repeat on the other side and then finish the roll. You should have a neat and compact lumpia roll! Well, maybe not the first time but by the end of them they will look perfect.
Now is a good time to get your rice and adobo sauce going. These will both take about 30 minutes to cook. Evan once asked me what my family’s secret was to making perfect rice every time. When I told him we used a rice maker he was shocked. He thought we had some sort of family secret passed down from the Philippines.
Next put 1 cup of soy sauce, 1 cup vinegar, slices of ginger (the rest of the chunk), minced garlic, 2 bay leaves, and diced onion in a large pan. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium and let the sauce reduce a bit. I finished the pork belly in the sauce but you can just pour it over top on a serving platter if you want.
While the sauce is going…(a lot of steps I know but trust me, this will be worth it!)…break out your deep fryer if you have one, and if not just use a large pot (or Dutch oven). Heat 1 1/2 inches of canola oil on medium. Check with a wooden spoon to see if the oil is hot enough by putting the end right on the bottom of the pot. If bubbles rise around the wooden spoon then the oil is hot enough to fry. Gently place the lumpia in the oil and fry for about 8-10 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown on the outside. When they are done let them sit on paper towel to soak up any excess oil. Repeat with the rest of the lumpia and dessert lumpia.
If you can time everything right it should all be ready around the same time. It’s a lot of work but you can really taste the love that goes into it. I always know if Evan likes it when he tells me that this is why he’s going to marry me. I’ll have to make Filipino dinner for my mom and dad soon and see what the expert thinks of it with my own twist on tradition.