Packed with flavor and a richness only lard can provide, these lumpiang ubod or spring rolls with sauteed hearts of palm were totally scrumptious. Start off by buying a kilo or so of the freshest and prime-est ubod you can find. Not the tough, pithy outer pieces, but rather the most central and nearly milky parts that command a premium. Pay extra for the quality stuff, buying cheap will practically ruin the dish in my opinion…
Into a large saute pan or frying pan, add about 8-10 tablespoons of pure pork lard. I used the tampalen lard we made a week ago and it was an incredibly creamy white color, and melted as soon as it touched the hot pan. I added some chopped onions, minced garlic and sauteed for a 2 minutes or so until softened. Next, I added the julienned ubod or hearts of palm (I used a mandoline to make quick qork of slicing the ubod) and sauteed that for another few minutes, the ubod now releasing quite a bit of liquid. To this, I added some 6-8 cups of freshly made shrimp stock, made from the heads and shells of prawns/shrimp that had been boiled in water, mashed and strained. Let this simmer for several minutes until the liquid is reduced and the ubod is tender but not overly soft. Season with some good patis or fish sauce and some sea salt if necessary. Also add some freshly cracked black pepper to taste. While I added fried bits of tampalen to the mixture earlier in the process, I would now recommend you add them later, so they remain with a bit of crunch rather than getting too soggy. If I had some shrimp in the house, I would have added shrimp pieces to the mixture.
Once cooked and seasoned properly, remove the cooked ubod and let it cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, take several cloves of garlic and mash it in a mortar and pestle and add some of the liquid remaining in the pan after you have removed the cooked ubod. You should have a viscous and pungent garlic paste. This last trick I learned from Manang Laida on a trip to Bacolod, her recipe for lumpia, here.
Into the thinnest and freshest lumpia wrappers you can get (these were a day old, so slightly parched, but a quick fine spray of water could easily cure that), shmear a bit of the garlic paste then pile on some of the cooled ubod mixture. Roll this up to a typical spring roll shape, leaving one end open. You can do as others and add a lettuce leaf and or sprig of green onion for color and crunch, or leave this unadulterated as many Ilonggos (or is it Negrenses?) are wont to do. You could add crisped up tampalen at this point and/or some chopped meaty chicharon for crunch and another layer of pork goodness.
Do not fret if your wrapper gets a bit oily, the fat is FLAVOR… Meanwhile, make a simple sauce of panocha or palm sugar, water, soy sauce and a touch of cornstarch to thicken it up. I used the finest muscovado I have ever found on the market instead of panocha so that’s why the sauce seems uncharacteristically dark brown. Drizzle the sauce over your freshly wrapped lumpia ubod and sprinkle with some chopped roasted peanuts.
This dish was totally off limits on my current diet. But I ate a whole lumpiang ubod! :) Yup, and it was delicious! The ubod was tender but not overly mushy, redolent with lard and the unique essence of shrimp broth. The sauce was sweet and salty at the same time and the muscovado gave it a flavor punch atypical of most restaurant versions of the dish. Excellent way to violate my diet rules. I have noticed that many folks eat this chilled or at cool room temperatures. The fat probably solidifies a bit in cooler temperatures, giving each lumpia a really rich and unctuous mouthfeel. Yum. :)