Laing (taro leaves and coconut milk stew) is cooked until quite dry, cooled then combined with cheese cubes to make the filling for the cheese and laing lumpia. Modern Filipino indeeded!
Great appetizer and a conversation starter too if you serve it to guests. You serve fried spring rolls and Filipinos expect the filling to be either ground pork (lumpiang Shanghai) or mung bean sprouts (lumpiang togue). Imagine the surprise of your guests when they bite into a spring roll and, after the crunch of the crispy wrapper, the creamy laing and melted cheese ooze inside their mouth. The shock and awe on their faces should be priceless.
I won’t claim to be the first person who thought about turning a vegetable stew into a fried spring roll dish. I Googled “laing lumpia” and it is (or used to be?) on the menu of Pino, a restaurant in Quezon City (we’ve never eaten there though). I will claim though that the specific recipe for the laing and cheese filling for these spring rolls was home grown and not borrowed from somewhere.
Cheese and Laing Lumpia (Fried Spring Rolls)
For the laing
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 250 grams ground pork with at least 20% fat
- 1 tablespoon dried shrimps (hibe) finely chopped
- 2 shallots (or 1 red onion), finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped
- 1 one-inch knob ginger peeled and grated
- 2 to 3 bird's eye chilies chopped
- 3/4 cup dried taro leaves
- 3 to 4 cups coconut milk
- fish sauce (patis) to taste
To make the spring rolls
- 150 grams cheese (any variety) cut into ¼-inch cubes
- 12 large spring roll wrappers or 24 small ones
- 1 egg beaten
- cooking oil for frying
Cook the laing
- Heat the cooking oil in a pan the spread the ground pork in the hot oil. Cook over high heat just until no longer pink.
- Lower the heat to medium. Add the dried shrimps, shallots, garlic, ginger and chilies. Saute until the mixture is almost dry.
- Add the taro leaves. Pour in two cups of coconut milk. Drizzle in a teaspoon of fish sauce. Bring to a gentle boil, pushing down the taro leaves to submerge in the liquid.
- Cook the laing uncovered over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the coconut milk has been absorbed. Taste. If the taro leaves are still not tender enough, add the rest of the coconut milk. Add more fish sauce, if needed. Continue cooking until the taro leaves are tender and the mixture is quite dry.
- Cool the laing.
Make the spring rolls
- Place the cooled laing in a bowl and stir in the cheese cubes.
- Separate the spring roll wrappers.
- Lay a wrapper flat, place a tablespoonful or two of the mixture (depending on the size of your spring roll wrappers) near the center and wrap sealing the edges with beaten egg (see step-by-step guide for wrapping spring rolls). Repeat until all the wrappers have been filled or until you run out of filling.
Fry the spring rolls
- In a frying pan, heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least three inches.
- Fry the spring rolls, in batches if your frying pan is rather small, until the wrappers are browned and crisp. Drain in paper towels.
Serve the cheese and laing spring rolls
- If you use small spring roll wrappers, I suggest that you serve the spring rolls whole. If you use large wrappers, you may want to cut each spring roll in half before serving.
- Optionally, serve the spring rolls on a bed of lettuce with cucumber slices on the side.