Nearly two weeks after coming back from a trip to Malapascua Island in the Philippines and I’ve still got the holiday blues.
We had an amazing few days wandering around the tiny island, discovering hidden coves, snorkelling in clear blue waters off white sandy beaches. The island is so small you can walk around it in a morning, it only has one real town to speak of and no cars or roads. We spent hours floating in the warm water, gazing down at fish going about their daily business. Trying hard not to step on the sea urchins poking out from the rocks. It sounds as if I’m looking back through rose-tinted glasses, but honestly, it was a little bit of paradise. Spending a lot of time in South East Asia you become used to people looking for anyway to part you with your money and pushing until they get it. Not in Malapascua. Of course, you are still greeted by small children asking you to buy their souvenirs, but really they’re more excited to show off their dance moves than push you for cash. Gangnam Style knows no limits in it’s world domination.
We ate dinner every night on the beach, barefoot, by candle light. Each day we would walk past young boys turning a pig on a spit over a pit of smouldering coals in the sand. In the evening we would eat delicious, red skinned suckling pig. So fresh and tender, the juices would run down our chins as we bit through the crunchy crackling. The air was full of the smell of fresh fish, cooking on the BBQ; whole snapper with its skin splitting open to white flesh, freshly caught grouper pulled onto the bangka boats that morning, rings of calamari. We dipped into steaming pots of adobo, a Filipino stew cooked with vinegar and garlic, and ate it with mounds of garlic rice.
Filipino food doesn’t always have the best reputation. Probably the famous Balut, boiled duck egg containing the partially developed foetus, has a lot to do with it. Eggs with legs anyone? Sounds yummy…. While Balut may not be quite your thing, you should defiantly give Lumpia a go. Lumpia are little Filipino spring rolls and they are really delicious. These are my attempt to make them at home so I can close my eyes and pretend I’m back on that beautiful little island.
350g minced pork
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup of white cabbage (about a quarter of a cabbage head), finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp soy sauce
Vegetable oil for frying
Cook the minced pork in a little vegetable oil, until no pink is showing. Remove it from the pan and set aside. Cook the onion and garlic for a few minutes, then add the carrot. Give the carrots a few minutes to soften slightly (you still want to retain some crunch from the vegetables) and add the cabbage. Season with the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Stir in the soy sauce. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little to make it easier to work with.
Now it’s time to fill your wrappers. I used dried rice paper wrappers, which needed to be soaked before they could be used. I set up a little production line of water filled side plates, soaking and wrapping. To wrap you need to place a few teaspoons of the mixture in a line in the bottom third of the wrapper circle. Fold the bottom edge over the filling and start to roll it up, keeping everything as tight as you can. Once you’re just over half way, roll the sides in, keep tucking the sides and rolling. Use a little more water to seal the end if you need to.
Deep fry the lumpia in vegetable oil for a few minutes until they are golden in colour. Make sure you only add a few to the pan at a time otherwise they will stick together.
Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot. They also freeze very well and can be reheated in the oven.