Early Saturday morning, I headed to the market with our host and several locals who joined us for the foray. There are two specialties from Bacolod that I have tried in vain to replicate over the years and a very thin lumpia wrapper is one of them. I wrote about this obsession here and while my mother used a more doughly almost pancake wrapper for her version of lumpiang ubod, here, I wanted a really thin version. I gave up on my quest a few months after I started it and decided I just had to find an expert to teach me instead. Our own lumpia is probably based on a Chinese dish, “popiah” that was indigenized in Bacolod a long way back… While I always assumed it was a batter based crepe like wrapper, it is in fact more like a cooked skin of a wet ball of dough wrapper… See this excellent photo here, link sent to me by Eric, a reader also obsessed with making the lumpia wrapper right.
At the Burgos market in downtown Bacolod, we went to Tita MM’s suki ubod vendor, only to find 3 or 4 freshly cut ubod, straight from the source. The stuff was like SO FRESH they were just peeling the top of the coconut trunks. It turns out that they also sold the thin wrapper, that was made in commercial quantities in the home of the vendor. After some incredibly wonderful local and female persuasion, seen in the photo above, the Manong (I didn’t catch his name) graciously agreed to show us how they were made. We set an appointment for later that afternoon and due to unforseen circumstances, we DIDN’t make the appointment, so learning how to make the wrapper is reason enough for a second trip back down to Bacolod. What I am after is an incredibly thin, yet surprisingly resilient “skin” that just envelopes the tasty ubod filling, and which almost dissolves when it comes in contact with your tongue.
When it was clear he was dealing with food lunatics, the Manong went into his stall and pulled out his freshest stack of wrappers, made less than 12 hours before. Of course we bought all of it, so we could experiment with a lumpia recipe later that afternoon. This was really good stuff, but I suspect making it minutes before you eat it is another level of quality all together.
On closer inspection these wrappers were incredibly thin, and since fresh, pulled away from each other really easily. So near, and yet so far. I promise I will return to Bacolod to figure this out soon…
Meanwhile, we bought some of that super fresh ubod and the ubod guy chopped it up faster than I could get out my food processor and plug it in. There is just something amazing about specializing in just one product… and in these parts, they eat a LOT of ubod and lumpia of all sorts.