Or, cooking without a recipe...
When I was little, I used to watch a Chinese cooking show (yes, in
Chinese!). I was fascinated because the food always looked good and
seemed easy to make - imagine 2 or 3 dishes all done in 30 minutes! Of
course I was young and did not know the magic of TV... but what amazed
me even then was that no measuring instruments were used.
how did she cook then? Well, she would always say... a bowl of this,
half a bowl of that, two bowls of this... a pinch of salt... that sort
of thing... Of course when I followed instructions for my first dish
(ever!), it was a dismal failure! How was I to know that I should have
used a standard bowl? We had several, all of different sizes at that,
and I used them all!
How's that memory relevant now?
Well, these days, there is such a thing as cooking without a recipe! Or
precise measurements. Such as this dish...
is the Filipino spring roll. Lumpiang Hubad is literally "spring roll
that is naked". In short, it is just the filling of the spring roll.
are many variations of the spring rolll - a meat filled version
"Lumpiang Shanghai" and the vegetable version "Lumpiang Gulay" or simply
"lumpia". The vegetable version has many variations too, depending on
the vegetables used. It is usually a mix of cabbage, carrots, green
beans, bean sprouts, singkamas (jicama), with a little ground pork
and/or chopped shrimp. My favorite version is the one with mostly bean
sprouts with a little carrot and green beans, with quite a bit of meat
We make this without using a formal recipe
at all, or exact measurements. While we always buy the bean sprouts
(it's the main ingredient after all), everything else is depending on
what can be found in the fridge. This particular time, it was only a
lonely carrot. And about 100 grams of ground meat and 6 pieces of
So, how does one go about cooking without a recipe?
it always begins with sauteing garlic and onions. Then stir-frying the
ground meat and the chopped shrimp. Then the vegetables (rinsed, dried
and sliced into similar size) are thrown in. If the mixture is too
dry, then water is added gradually. Then it is seasoned to taste (in
this case, very lightly with soy sauce and pepper, no salt because the
dish is for my mom, remember?)