Tuna lumpia is a great alternative to pork lumpia. It is healthier, but you are not sacrificing any taste.
Lumpia is more often than not present at Filipino gatherings – house parties, fiestas, birthdays and the like. Making lumpia is quite labor intensive, but it is often made with friends and family, so the work is divided and a huge pile of lumpia gets done in no time at all. This is how we did it back in Luxembourg. (To be honest, I don’t remember making lumpia back in the Philippines!) My friends and I will sit together at the kitchen table, roll up the lumpias and just talk, about life and whatever comes to mind. When I first arrived here in Europe my weekends were always about meeting up with friends, and eating, always eating. That is the Filipino way. Everything is centered around food.
I also first ate tuna lumpia in Luxembourg when my friend, Bobbi, made this for us. This is her recipe, adjusted to my tastes. She uses celery, which I am not a fan of, so I omitted that one. Also, I have never ever finished an entire celery. Every time I buy it, I always end up throwing out the rest because I use only one or two stalks. So usually, if a recipe calls for it, I just leave it out.
If you are a newbie to lumpia rolling, please read on for detailed instructions and pictures. If you just want the recipe, scroll to the bottom 😊
And invite friends over, have a tuna lumpia making party, play some party music and chat the afternoon away. And of course, eat after. Just make sure you make a lot, as lumpia freezes well.
So, how do you make tuna lumpia?
First, gather your ingredients. You will need canned tuna (of course), in brine or water. Make sure you drain it well, as moisture is an enemy of crispy fried lumpia. Get some carrots, bell pepper, onions, garlic and spring onions.
Chop the carrots as finely as you can. We will not be pre-cooking the filling, so having miniscule carrot bits will ensure that they will be cooked. If you are a fan of raw or crunchy carrots, by all means make the pieces bigger. Do the same with the onions and garlic.
Get a large bowl, and put in the tuna and your finely chopped vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Have a taste. Is it seasoned well enough? If not, adjust. If yes, crack in two large eggs. Mix well with your hands.
Wash your hands and ready the lumpia wrappers. If you are lucky enough to have access to fresh ones, use those. For us abroad, we have to use frozen wrappers. I used the big ones (around 6×6 inches) sold at the Asian store. Defrost beforehand, ideally overnight in the fridge.
Now we wrap!
Separate the wrappers, you will need around 30 pieces. If you use smaller ones, you will surely need more. Get one lumpia wrapper and lay it flat on a plate or chopping board. Position it like a diamond, with one corner pointing at you. Have a small container of water nearby.
Place around a tablespoon of filling just under the middle and shape it into a small rectangle, leaving at least 1 ½ inches on each side.
Roll up the bottom and tuck the filling tightly under it. The tighter you roll your lumpia, the better. This means that less oil will come seeping in.
Roll one more time, then tuck both sides in like an envelope.
Continue rolling until you have a couple inches of wrapper left.
Moisten the edges and seal the lumpia.
Repeat until all the filling is used up.
Now all the hard work is done.
At this point, you may either freeze or fry the lumpia.
To freeze: Arrange the lumpia in a single layer on a baking pan, chopping board, or basically anything flat that will fit in your freezer. Leave for 30 mins to an hour until completely frozen. Transfer to a freezer bag, label and consume within 6 months.
To fry: Use a small saucepan to use less oil. Pour in enough oil to get about an inch high of oil. Heat. Test with a wooden spoon (you will know it is ready when you dip the end of the spoon in it sizzles) or use one lumpia. Fry in batches and drain on paper towels or on a cooling rack with a tray underneath to catch the drips. If not eating immediately, you may keep this in the oven, preheated to around 60°C/.
Bobbi says you may also try baking the lumpia if you don’t want to use oil. Preheat your oven to 375°F/190°C. Arrange the lumpia in a single layer on a lined baking tray. Bake for around 7 mins, then turn over and bake another 7-10 minutes more.