Our first meal in Bacolod, the night before, featured some wonderfully flavorful lumpiang ubod. They were unusual for me in that the filling was rather dark, and they had a seriously garlicky punch but a very smooth and modulated filling. They weren’t shrimpy or fishy at all as lumpia ubod can be sometimes, and they were small enough to consume in 3 or four bites. They came with no sauce and overall were a really pleasant surprise. I have featured my mom’s style of lumpia ubod before, here, but if you want this more “tanned” version, it is actually rather easy to do… and tastes terrific. And thanks to Manang Laida for allowing me to watch her cook it. Again, as with the bicho-bicho, I do not give away the exact proportions of ingredients in deference to Manang Laida, who has been preparing this for decades. But if you read closely and have a good hand in the kitchen, you can figure this out for yourself. :)
Because this is such a commonly prepared dish in Bacolod, the markets have all of the necessary ingredients at the ready, from freshly made wrappers to portions of ground pork or shrimp and of course, freshly chopped ubod, so this was particularly easy to pull together at a moment’s notice. Start off by heating some vegetable oil in kawali or wok, then add chopped garlic and saute until slightly colored.
Add some peeled chopped shrimp meat, chopped shallots and saute a few minutes before adding some ground pork and saute some more…
Add the chopped ubod, which was surprisingly rather haphazardly sliced, not the anally retentive julienne that I thought might make it look nice, but rather a several second chop, chop, chop with a large cleaver at the market (yielding this jujitsu shred) and let this simmer for several minutes as the ubod renders a lot of liquid. Add a bit of soy sauce (a surprise for me) and several tablespoons of light brown sugar (even MORE of a surprise for me, but we were in Negros, land of sugar, after all!). Cover and let this cook for say 10-15 minutes until the liquid is rendered then reduced, but the pan not totally dry.
Asked if soy sauce was a common addition, Manang Laida said she has been cooking her lumpia ubod this way for decades… And the brown sugar was also not unusual for her… and I must admit gave the ubod that special yumminess factor that I couldn’t pinpoint earlier. And it wasn’t sweet, per se.
Once the ubod is cooked, remove it from the pan, keeping the liquid which packs a flavor wallop.
To assemble, Manang Laida spreads some of her “secret” sauce made of smashed raw garlic and some of the leftover pan juices directly on the wrapper.
She adds the cooled ubod filling…
…and expertly rolls it up. Wrap each lumpia in wax paper and its ready to eat. Absolutely delicious. More intensely flavored than a pale lumpia ubod. Less fattening that the versions which literally stew in rendered pork fat. Wonderful. No spring onion or lettuce leaf.
And here, a photo of our tutors for the day, Manang Laida on the left and Manang Lilia on the right. Oh, and here’s an amusing tidbit. As the manangs were explaining the different dishes, they were speaking in rat-a-tat Ilonggo, which of course, I do not understand. But somehow, as a cook, I figured out 80-90% of what they were saying and was rapidly taking notes. Then Manang Laida looks at one of our Ilonggo hosts and said, “he can’t speak a word of Ilonggo, how does he understand what I am saying?…” Heehee. Food is a universal language. :) Thank you SO VERY MUCH to Tita MM who assembled our tutors, obtained the ingredients and allowed us to mess up her kitchen that wonderful afternoon in Bacolod.