Most Filipinos know lumpiang ubod (heart of palm spring rolls) but using bamboo shoots to make fresh spring rolls is not that common. Cooked correctly, lumpiang labong is delicious!
I would have made lumpiang ubod but that entails going to the market very early in the morning when the ubod is fresh and I can still specify which portion I want. But after cooking the kids’ packed school lunch, by the time they have left for school, all I want is to crawl back into bed. The mornings are crisp and cool and even after the aircon has been turned off, the bed still looks so inviting.
Well, one of these days I will muster enough determination not to go back to bed and buy some ubod to finally satisfy my craving. For now, it’s labong (bamboo shoots). Not a bad alternative, really.
What are bamboo shoots?
Bamboo shoots are the edible shoots (new bamboo culms that come out of the ground) of bamboo species Bambusa vulgaris and Phyllostachys edulis. They are used in numerous Asian dishes and broths, and are available in supermarkets in various sliced forms, both fresh and canned versions. [Wikipedia]
Are canned bamboo shoots as good as fresh ones?
I read somewhere that canned bamboo shoots are a poor substitute for fresh. I bought a can a couple of weeks ago to find out but it’s been pushed into the far recesses of a kitchen cabinet.
Fresh labong is so widely available in the Philippines that there really is no reason to use the canned variety. And labong is so inexpensive — a P10 (around 25 cents) pack (about 200 grams or so) can feed four people. In the wet markets and even in most supermarkets, they are sold shredded and ready to cook.
You can go completely vegan with this dish or you can add meat to the filling. I added shredded chicken to mine.
Lumpiang labong (bamboo shoots spring rolls)
For the filling
- 200 grams fresh shredded bamboo shoots
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- ½ head garlic peeled and finely minced
- 1 onion peeled and thinly sliced
- 3 cups chicken bone broth
- 1 ½ cups cooked shredded chicken
- 1 carrot peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1 small bunch cilantro coriander leaves, cut into 1-inch lengths
For the sauce
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon tapioca starch or corn starch
- 1/8 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- ½ head garlic peeled and finely minced
To make the spring rolls
- 10 crepe-like spring roll wrappers
- lettuce leaves
Cook the filling
- Place the bamboo shoots in a colander and wash under the tap. Drain thoroughly.
- Heat the cooking oil in a large shallow pan.
- Saute the garlic and onion until fragrant.
- Add the bamboo shoots and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Pour in the water or broth, bring to a boil and simmer until the bamboo shoots are tender. How long this take depends on the quality of the bamboo shoots. The best ones will cook in about 15 minutes; mine took over an hour. Just keep adding liquid, a cup or so every time, and check the bamboo shoots every 15 minutes or so. You don’t want them mushy. You want them tender with still a hint of crispness.
- When the bamboo shoots are almost done, add the shredded chicken and the carrot.
- Season with salt and pepper. Stir well.
- Cook for another five minutes then add the cilantro. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds then turn off the heat.
- Pour the filling into a colander with a bowl underneath. Let the filling cool and strain. You want the filling at room temperature before making the lumpia. You also want to remove all the excess liquid which will turn the lumpia soggy.
Make the sauce
- Disperse the starch in the water. Pour into a small saucepan. Add the garlic, soy sauce and sugar. Adjust the amount of soy sauce and sugar according to your preference before you turn on the stove. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until thick and clear. Stir in the peanut butter. Better yet, mix the peanut butter with a little water first before pouring into the sauce. Cover and set aside.
Assemble the spring rolls
- Lay a piece of lumpia wrapper on a plate. Place a leaf or two of lettuce on one side. Place about two tablespoonfuls of filling at the center of the wrapper. Hold the edge of the wrapper that is directly opposite the lettuce and fold inward. Then, fold the left and right edges inward as well, one overlapping the other.
- Pour some sauce over the lumpia before serving or serve the sauce on the side.
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