Every Filipino family has their own version of a dipping sauce for lumpia. The dipping sauce my mother makes is very simple and consists of vinegar, chopped garlic, and ground black pepper. When I make my mom’s sauce, I usually throw in some red pepper flakes for some extra spice.
It might not seem very obvious at first, but lumpia dipping can be a very serious endeavor. Especially when you consider the consequences.
For instance, before taking a bite of my lumpia, I dip its closed end directly into the dipping sauce. But once I take a bite, I do not dip it back into the sauce. Usually, I don’t mind double-dipping—you could double-dip your chips in the salsa as much as you’d like. But lumpia is different. It’s got cargo inside.
Once you bite the end off of a lumpia it transforms itself from a Filipino eggroll to an open tube of loose meat! Gravity and an overturned open tube of loose meat are not friends! Mother Nature scoffs at your dipping sauce! Pretty soon there will be bits of meat and shards of once-crisp lumpia wrapper floating in what was formerly a pristine pool of vinegar and spice.
(I just thought of this, but if I were part of a tag team of Filipino wrestlers, I’d want our name to be “Vinegar and Spice”. Vinegar would be the surly one and Spice would be the flamboyant tactician. I could play either role. Our finishing move would be the “Quadruple Tsinelas Dropkick to the Face!” But I digress. Back to my original post.)
I don’t want to see your meat floating in my sauce! It’s unacceptable and it’s gross and it’s something I refer to as LSP (Lumpia Sauce Pollution). It’s a serious problem, folks.
To avoid a muddy mess of meat in your dipping sauce, alls ya has to do is instead of pouring meat into your sauce, take a spoon and pour the sauce into your lumpia. Easy, no? There may be a few Pinoys out there that think this is common practice and I’m just preaching to the choir. But I disagree. I’ve been to too many gatherings in which I happily fill my three-compartment styrofoam plate with rice, pancit, igado, adobo, lumpia and what have you (three compartments holds a lot), and then I get to the communal bowl of lumpia sauce and sure enough it looks like someone set off a lumpia grenade in it.
If I’m at the party early, and the lumpia sauce hasn’t been polluted yet, I ladle some of the sauce into a Dixie cup and I have my own serving to do as I wish. I just have to be careful not to confuse my sauce cup with my beer cup. My dad did that once and he ended up strangling a couple of his distant cousins.* My dad, he’s easily upset.
Outside of a party setting, LSP is easier to manage and can be eliminated by providing more access to the dipping sauce. For instance, at my mother’s house my mom usually makes two separate bowls of her lumpia sauce and places a bowl at each end of the table for easy sharing. Each bowl has a spoon which is to be used for transporting sauce to lumpia. This is a fine and dandy solution to LSP. And because I usually sit next to my father at the dinner table, I make damn sure I don’t pollute his sauce.
I usually sit to the immediate left of my father, which means if I screw anything up at the dinner table I’d catch a quick backhand to the face. That might sound kinda harsh, but it’s much better than sitting to his immediate right and getting a punch to the throat.** Oh, Dad. Such a warm soul is he.
Anyhoo, I hope all of you will find this bit of information that I’ve provided to be useful in your lives. Remember, LSP is a serious but very preventable problem. Only you can prevent Lumpia Sauce Pollution!
In addition to the standard vinegar, garlic, and pepper sauce that I described above, I like to make a sort of sweet, sour, and spicy sauce from fresh-squeezed orange juice, kalamansi juice, and ginger. Considering I created this sauce on the fly from a bunch of stuff I already had on hand, I enjoyed it very much.***
**Again, another joke. Relax.
***Seriously, it's pretty good.
Sweet Sour and Spicy Dipping Sauce
Juice of one large orange
Juice of 2-3 kalamansi limes
1/2 inch piece of ginger, chopped fine
1 teaspoon patis (fish sauce)
Red pepper flakes to taste
1 dried chipotle pepper (optional)
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the orange juice, kalamansi juice, ginger, patis, red pepper flakes, and chipotle pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the water and the cornstarch and mix well. After the orange juice mixture has simmered, add the cornstarch slurry to the pot and mix well. Continue to simmer the sauce for another 2-3 minutes. The sauce will thicken as it cooks.
Remove the sauce from the heat, and remove the chipotle pepper from the sauce. Taste the sauce for seasoning and add more kalamansi juice or patis as needed. If the orange juice did not provide enough sweetness, add a bit of sugar if needed. For extra spice, chop the chipotle pepper into a fine dice and return to the sauce. Let the sauce come to room temperature and serve with lumpia.
Note: The lumpia in the above picture has not been bitten into yet. Therefore, it follows all anti-LSP guidelines. Thank you for your concern.