The last time I made lumpiang ubod, my firstborn (now 15) was still a baby and we were living at my in-laws’. I had too many excuses for not making lumpiang ubod all these years — I had no non-stick pan to make those crepe-like wrappers, it was such a hassle going to the market so early in the morning for the ubod choice cuts, the weather’s too hot… I’ve had so many non-stick pans, I’ve been to the market so many mornings, so many Christmas seasons have passed and it was only today that I finally mustered the resolve to make lumpiang ubod again. I ran out of excuses. I have a great set of Pyrex non-stick pans, the weather’s been cool and crisp for weeks and my husband discovered some gorgeous ubod at The Landmark yesterday. When he picked up a pack from the cold section, I got as excited as he was. Very tender ubod — I could tell from the texture.
I wasn’t mistaken. While cutting the ubod this morning, I was eating the irregular pieces. Even without cooking, the ubod was crisp and tender. But what is ubod? Contrary to misleading references to ubod as “coconut heart”, ubod does not come from coconut trees exclusively although the heart of the coconut palm is the most well-known variety.
Heart of palm, also called palm heart, palmito, chonta or swamp cabbage, is a vegetable harvested from the inner core and growing bud of certain palm trees (notably the coconut (Cocos nucifera), Palmito Juçara (Euterpe edulis), Açaí palm (Euterpe oleracea), sabal (Sabal spp.) and pejibaye (Bactris gasipaes) palms). It is costly because harvesting in the wild kills the tree. [Wikipedia]
I would have made lumpiang ubod last night had not my daughter, her voice hoarse from a bad cold, asked that I make Vietnamese spring rolls instead. And instead of the chicken and asparagus soup that I had lined up, my husband asked if we couldn’t have miso soup instead. So, my planned menu went awry, I had to rush dinner and wasn’t able to take photos of the Vietnamese spring rolls. Next time, I will — I still have a pack of rice paper and all the rest of the ingredients.
For this morning’s lumpiang ubod (breakfast, believe it or not), I made the wrappers myself. Yes, there is a separate post on how to make crepe-like spring roll wrappers. I tweaked the proportions of the ingredients a bit and this morning’s lumpia wrapper turned out a dozen times better — thinner, lighter and softer.
Lumpiang ubod (heart of palm spring rolls)
- Cook the filling: Cut the ubod into matchsticks.
- Cut the chicken into thin slices — as thinly as you can, thin enough to cook in minutes.
- Peel and finely mince the garlic.
- Cut the onion leaves and wansuy into one-inch lengths.
- Heat the cooking oil.
- Saute the garlic until fragrant. Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink. Season with patis and pepper and cook over high heat for about 2 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the ubod. Stir well. Lower the heat, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. If the ubod is not tender after 10 minutes, it probably came from a mature palm tree and it’ll take over 30 minutes or longer to cook.
- When the ubod is done (should still be slightly crisp), add the onion leaves and wansuy. Stir well. Season with more patis if necessary. Turn off the heat, drain any liquid and transfer the cooked filling to a large shallow plate and cool. COOL. If you wrap the filling while hot, the wrappers will get soaked with steam and the lumpia will turn soggy.
- While the filling cools, make the wrappers.
- Assemble the spring rolls: Lay a wrapper flat on a plate. Place two tablespoonfuls of the filling across the middle. Fold the edge nearest you to cover the filling. Take the side edges and fold over the center then roll the entire thing.
- Make the peanut sauce: This sauce is the traditional accompaniment for Vietnamese spring rolls. I mentioned that we had Vietnamese spring rolls for dinner last night and we had leftover peanut sauce (no leftover spring rolls).
- Mix together 2 tablespoonfuls of patis, 1/4 cup of hoisin sauce, 1 tablespoonful of tamarind paste (you can substitute mild vinegar), 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter and 1/2 cup of hot water. Pour over the lumpiang ubod or serve on the side.