It sounds like a bad 1950s musical, doesn’t it?

“LOEMPIA!… and the wind goes whistling down the grain…”

Actually its nothing of the sort. Its the indonesian version of a spring roll.. only bigger. and more delicious. if that’s possible. Very popular in the Netherlands, where they’re available at just about every chippy going, but unheard of over here.

And Michiel happens to adore them. Every so often he gets a real hankering for loempia (usually when he’s had too much to drink – i think loempias are the Dutch version of Chicken Tikka Masala… *ducks*). So every so often i take pity on him and make them.

Loempias - Indonesian spring rolls. Not authentic, but ive teamed them with a dipping sauce of Hoisin Sauce and Plum Sauce (which i love). If it was authentic it would simply be served with a sambal - as Michiel had it.

Loempias - Indonesian spring rolls. Not authentic, but i've teamed them with a dipping sauce of Hoisin Sauce and Plum Sauce (which i love). If it was authentic it would simply be served with a sambal - as Michiel had it.

There’s quite a lot of cooking involved in making them. First of all, the filling: cooked, shredded chicken or pork (or both, or, for that matter, any meat), along with various veg: onion, cabbage, beansprouts, carrot, bamboo shoots, red pepper, garlic and ginger, all either finely juilienned or shredded, or grated. Either way, long and thin. Flavouring comes from the garlic, ginger, and three indonesian ingredients: trassi (which is a kind of shrimp paste, smells foul and has to be properly treated), sambal ulek (chilli chutney – the Ulek [or Oelek] is the basic Sambal, just chilli and salt, but there are many many different Sambals out there – including Sambal Trassi, so what i usually do is to put in 2 lots of Sambal Trassi instead of Sambal and Trassi – saves all the faffing around with the foul smelling gunk) and finally, kecap or kejap manis, which is indonesian soy sauce, or sweet soy sauce.

Once the filling is done, you make up the rolls: spring roll wrappers, bought frozen from a chinese supermarket are perfectly good, and i use two of them, as described in the recipe, to make up the roll. Then they’re deep fried. Not good for the waistline, but oh-my-god gorgeous. And the best thing is: you can make a whole batch of them, and put what you don’t eat in the freezer. I would actually recommend making as many as you can out of what wrappers/filling you have, keeping what you want for that evenings meal, and putting the rest in the freezer before you start to cook and then eat, because otherwise the temptation to cook just one more will be overwhelming. Once they’re in the freezer, though, they’re a great standby meal: once defrosted, they just need frying up and serving.

[If you’re passionately interested in Dutch/Indonesian cooking, then i strongly suggest you a) learn dutch and b) lay your hands on a copy of the “Groot Indonesian Cookboek” (Great Indonesian Cookbook) by Beb Vuyk. This is regarded as “the bible” for Indonesian cookery in the Netherlands – and yes, we have a copy, not that it does me any good as I can’t read Dutch, but Michiel is very slowly translating it…. Sadly, its not available in English, although we did enquire at the publishers. Failing that,, which is in English, is a good place to start.]

The actual recipe for them can be found here; you should be able to find trassi and Sambal Oelek/Ulek at a good Chinese supermarket in the UK. If you find a chinese supermarket that stocks more than one kind of Sambal: cherish it, and if you find Sambal Trassi, you’re on a roll! You can often find Kecap or Kejap Manis at good chinese supermarkets too, or some ordinary supermarkets serve it these days as well, as the various different types of asian cookery are becoming more popular – the one i have in my cupboard at the moment comes from Lidl and is labelled “Indonesian Soy Sauce” – you may also find it labelled as “Sweet Soy Sauce”.

Or you can do what i do: find someone from the Netherlands who’s willing to post you parcels of goodies that are hard to get over here.. LOL. and beg a lot. begging helps too!

Or finally you have one other route: find someone like me who likes indonesian cooking and beg them to cook for you. If you get invited to a rijstafel (rice table) then don’t eat for a week. You will need an empty stomach. And loose fitting clothes. 🙂

And if you ever visit the Netherlands, find a chippy that serves Loempia and try one. Just once. Its worth it. I promise.

Further Links:

Rijsttafel – The Crown Jewel of Indonesian Cuisine
Indonesian Food Recipes
Eating the Indonesian Way
Culinary Reconnaisance – Indonesia
Indonesian Food Recipes
Wikipedia – Cuisine of Indonesia
Kokkie Blanda – mostly in Dutch but has a few recipes in English, links to…
AsianCook/AsianRecipe – which has recipes in English for other countries too.
Indochef’s links to other sites, some of them listed here already