The Difference Between Egg Rolls And Filipino Lumpia

Many Asian countries share an affinity for small, cigar-shaped rolls stuffed with flavorful meats, seafood, and vegetables. Although some are rolled in wheat dough and deep fried, others are encased in rice wrappers and served cold. Different though they may be, they all take their influence from classic Chinese spring rolls which are traditionally flavored with things like sesame, shiitake mushrooms, napa cabbage, and Shaoxing wine. Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines all have their own versions, as does America. The type from the Philippines are called lumpia and the type from the United States are known as egg rolls.

Both egg rolls and lumpia are variations on spring rolls but there are obvious differences between the two. An egg roll is typically heavily stuffed with cabbage, meat, and/or other veggies and has a thick wrapper made of wheat and eggs. Lumpia, on the other hand, have a thinner and more delicate wrapping. While egg rolls are always deep-fried, lumpia can be pan-fried or not fried at all. And where egg rolls are considered a savory appetizer or side dish from Chinese takeout restaurants, Filipino lumpia can either be filled with sweet ingredients or stuffed with meat and vegetables.

They were invented centuries apart

American egg rolls are a relatively newer contribution to the culinary world at large. They weren't introduced until the 20th century, while lumpia were introduced to the Philippines by Chinese traders as early as the 7th century. Egg rolls are typically made much larger and fatter than lumpia and are served with sweet and sour dipping sauce, duck sauce, or hot mustard. Lumpia are traditionally filled with ground pork (although ground beef is also popular) that is mixed with carrots, onions, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce to make a dense filling that is placed inside a wheat or rice wrapper and pan-fried until crisp.

Sweet lumpia, meanwhile, might be filled with banana or jackfruit and drizzled with honey. Interestingly enough, some people refer to lumpia as Filipino egg rolls which goes to show that, despite the differences, all types of Chinese-influenced rolls share the same basic characteristics — they're all dough wrappers filled with unforgettable flavors.