Me: I think I need a fryer to make these look and taste right.
Josh: Well, you used wonton wrappers. Those aren't made from rice flour.
Me: Oh, yeah. I guess that makes sense. Say, was that your smarty-pants, know-it-all voice? Are you being condescending?
Josh: I don't have a know-it-all, etc. voice.
Me: There! That's it!
I might have made most of that conversation up, but the facts are good: I used wheat flour wrappers. Although Uwaj claims to be a rather comprehensive Asian foodstuffs purveyor, I did not see "lumpia wrappers." And I didn't think to look for rice paper wrappers. Curses. That must have been the problem with Sam liking the lumpia. He knew what authentic was; my lumpia were not it.
My setup. Ready for stuffing.
Making dumplings is an art. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that. The ones that Sam has had before, and liked, made by R, are always perfect little cigars. A couple of mine came out looking pretty good, but getting them "right" was taking way too long, so I started rolling them as a diamond instead of a square. It was easier, but not as pretty. A person learns many a thing while making dumplings of whatever sort. I learned that you really need to crumble the meat completely. The few large chunks seemed to bust through the wrappers every time, such that several needed to be double-wrapped. Since I still have half a pack of wrappers, I will continue to use my newfound dumpling knowledge for Good.
They came out okay. I got the recipe off the Food Network. The whole reason I dared to try lumpia is becuse Sam liked them so much, the several times he had them. R, a friend of a friend, is Filippina and has brought them to several dinner parties. Hers are little fried rods of meat in a perfectly crunchy shell. So good, you don't even need dipping sauce, although she always makes some that is quite tasty. I asked for the recipe, but never heard back, so I went searching on my own. Voila. The FN recipe includes a bunch of vegetables, while R's is solid meat. Of course, since I was making them for Sam, sneaking in veggies couldn't possibly be a bad thing. The stuffing, however, was largely flavorless. Again, not always a bad thing for a toddler, so I plowed ahead.
In the end, Sam liked the crunchy outer part, and did eat a bit of the stuffing of one. He must have thought that the lumpia was all crunch because he boldly grabbed a second and bit through about 1/3 of it with gusto. And ... then ... it ... came tumbling out of his mouth. Not by accident. If you have a toddler, you know that sometimes spitting accidents happen. This was definitely purposeful; I saw the tongue on the ejection follow-through.
Once again, I had a backup plan. Josh and I added lumpia to our dinner of fried rice. I was going to make a pasta salad. But the day was so gray, and the pasta salad equally gray (if you're thinking pouring-salad-dressing-over-noodles gray, you would have what I was intending). So the lumpia actually provided inspiration for a way out.
You won't find the recipe here, of course, because they weren't very good. My friend EB reportedly has R's recipe, so you will see another lumpia attempt. This I swear.