Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ratio Rally! Gluten-Free, Vegan Crepes & Filipino Spring Rolls

Gluten-Free, Vegan Lumpiang Sariwa served with Paalat.
I can't believe it's already March.  Not that I'm complaining, but this year is off to a quick start.  For me, it feels like it was barely last week that we were welcoming the New Year, and now here we are getting ready for St. Patrick's Day, Spring Break, and SXSW.  Now, before you start daydreaming about vacations, green beer, and all that relaxation and/or debauchery, let's bring it back to another fun-filled event:  This month's Gluten Free Ratio Rally Challenge. [cue cowbell]

If you're new to the Rally, allow me to give you a quick rundown.  At the root of it all is Michael Ruhlman's book, Ratio.  In it, he explains how ratios, and the relationships between ingredients, are the foundation of cooking and baking.  Ruhlman encourages the reader to understand how basic ingredients like eggs, flour, milk, and butter work together, and how given different proportions the same ingredients can result in a variety of things, from pasta to muffins.  Now, since all of this was written in the context of gluten, in February of last year Shauna James Ahern (aka gluten-free girl) decided to start a monthly blogging event where the ratios set forth in Ruhlman's book would be put to the test using gluten-free ingredients.  Each month features a different food item with its proposed ratio and each month's challenge is hosted by a different blogger.

So this month, led by our fearless host, T.R., from No One Likes Crumbley Cookies, the lot of us took on crepes. [cue cymbals]

Thinking about crepes, I wondered if and when I'd ever had them.  I know I had seen them plenty of times in breakfast buffet lines, but couldn't recall ever ordering them.  And when my sister reminded me that I'd had them in France with that server who was being rude to my Dad, I immediately remembered the rudeness, but couldn't tell you a thing about the crepes.  It wasn't until one evening about a week ago, when I was looking through some recipes that I'd transcribed from my grandmother, that I realized that I had had crepes before, just in a very different way. 

Lumpiang Sariwa, otherwise known as Fresh Lumpia or Filipino Spring Rolls, is a traditional Filipino dish of stir-fried vegetables and meat enclosed in a soft, thin, eggy wrapper and then dipped in a sweet, garlicky sauce.  It was actually the very first recipe I looked for when I started collecting family recipes a few years ago.  A staple at Filipino gatherings, especially during the summer, I used to love eating them as a child.  I recall enjoying the sauce so much that I would literally eat it by the spoon, leaving little, if any, for anyone else to enjoy.  And either out of understanding how chubby little boys can be or taking it as a compliment as to how delicious the sauce was, my grandmothers never complained.  

But as much as I loved them growing up, it would be safe to say that it's been close to 20 years since I last had fresh lumpia.  Well, until last week that is.  Making something so nostalgic, and making it gluten free and vegan, was a little daunting at first.  But let me tell you, that first bite instantly brought me back to sitting around the kitchen table at our very first house, legs kicking in my chair as I giggled at how good it tasted. 

So, without further ado, I proudly present my contribution to this month's Gluten Free Ratio Rally Crepes Challenge.  I know that it looks like a lot, but it is three separate components.  Each one is delicious and could stand on its own, so if you like, you can think of this post as a 3-in-1.  Yay!

Lumpiang Sariwa (Filipino Spring Rolls)
Gluten-Free & Vegan/ Inspired by my Grandmothers


Active Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: at least 60 minutes
Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes (90 seconds/crepe)
Yield: 12-15 six-inch crepes

2 oz  or 1/4 c non-dairy milk beverage
1/2 teaspoon GF apple cider vinegar

3 oz or 3/4 c arrowroot starch
1 oz or 1/4 c quinoa flour
1/2 oz or 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon garbanzo flour
1/2 oz or 2 tablespoons millet flour
1/4 teaspoon psyllium husk
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 teaspoons coconut palm sugar

8 oz or 1 c cool vegetable stock/water
1 oz or 1/8 c extra virgin olive oil

1.  Start by making your non-dairy "buttermilk."  Combine non-dairy milk and vinegar and allow to sit and curdle for a few minutes.  I used coconut milk beverage, but have also had success with nut milks in the past.
2.  Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and give them a good whisk to both aerate and evenly distribute.  Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and begin to gradually add the cool vegetable stock/water.  It may become difficult to stir at moments, but keep stirring and eventually you will reach a very slack, runny consistency.
3.  Add curdled milk, and once combined, drizzle in olive oil as you stir briskly.  It will be very liquidy, which is precisely where it should be.
4.  Cover and allow to rest for at least 1 hour.  If you need to leave it for longer, it's perfectly fine to transfer it to the refrigerator.  The first time I made them, I was interrupted and had to put off making the crepes for nearly 5 hours - the crepes were still awesome.  Just make sure you budget time for the batter to come back to room temperature before using.
5.  After resting and allowing the flours and starches to bloom, the batter, while still slack, should be noticeably thicker and silky in texture.  As a friend of mine likes to say, "thicker than whipping cream but thinner than pancake batter."
7.  Heat a small, non-stick pan over medium heat and grease it lightly with oil.
8.  Once the pan is hot, lift away from the stove and pour 2-3 tablespoons of batter in the center of the pan, swirling quickly in a clockwise direction to cover the base of the pan and then return to the stove. This will take a little practice and hand-eye-wrist coordination, but you'll get the hang of it. 
9.  About 10-15 seconds in, you'll notice large dome-like bubbles inflating underneath the crepe.  This is normal and actually quite entertaining.  After about 1 minute, the edges will be sturdy and you can gently lift up one side with a spatula and either flip the crepe with your hand or with the spatula.  The cooked side should be a pale golden brown.  Allow it cook for about 20 seconds more on the other side and then transfer from pan to plate.

So much easier when all you need is a spoon and a scale.

Slack & runny at first.  Trust that it will thicken.

Like mini-naans.  I really got a kick out of this part.

Would you believe that these taste eggy?  Because they kinda do.

Some helpful tips: 
  • Before each crepe, I suggest giving your batter a good stir.  
  • Just under medium heat worked best for me.  Too high, and the crepes become inflexible, and too low, and they become gummy and mushy.
  • Should you need to regrease your pan, err on the side of less rather than more.  Just a drop more of oil may be all you need.

Stir-Fried Vegetable Filling

2 tablespoons oil for cooking
2-3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 c onion, diced
1/2 c carrot, julienned
1/2 c cooked garbanzo beans
3-4 leaves collards, sliced
2 tablespoons warm stock/water
1/2 c heart of palm, julienned
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Heat oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes or until it just starts to brown.
2.  Add the onions and saute for 2-3 minutes until soft and translucent.
3.  Continue adding ingredients in 2 minute intervals through collards.  At that point, add stock/water to deglaze, give it a good stir, and then reduce heat and cover for 3-5 minutes.
4.  Uncover and add heart of palm. Cook for 1-2 minutes more and then remove from heat.  Season to taste.  Allow to cool.

Never seen heart of palm before?  Now you have.

Mise en place with mostly local organic vegetables.

A beautiful combination of ingredients that would be lovely all on its own.

Sweet Garlic Dipping Sauce (Paalat)

8 oz or 1 c vegetable stock/water
1 oz or 1/4 c coconut palm sugar
2 teaspoons GF tamari
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch dispersed in 2 tablespoons water
3-5 cloves garlic, minced

1.  Combine first four ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.
2.  Add starch/water mixture.  Continue stirring until it becomes noticeably thicker.
3.  Remove from heat and stir in garlic.  Allow to cool.

Seriously addictive.  Don't say you weren't warned.

Now that you have all the building blocks, here's how you put it all together.  Two more ingredients you'll need:  12 lettuce leaves and 12 scallions.
  • Lay a lettuce leaf just above the center of the crepe, so it overlaps through the top part but does not overlap through the bottom or sides.  Place a scallion in the middle.
  • Place about 2-3 tablespoons of the filling over the lettuce leaf.
  • Fold the the bottom part of the crepe up and then fold the two sides in and onto each other. leaving the top part open.  A dab of water can help it to stay closed.
  • Serve with a generous amount of sauce and enjoy!

 Ruhlman's proposed ratio for crepes is:

 1/2 part flour: 1 part egg: 1 part liquid

In making mine vegan, I actually used that ratio as my guideline.  I used 1 part stock, 1/2 part flour/starch, and then for my "eggs," I used a combination of various egg substitutes to approximate their function in crepes: oil for moisture,  extra arrowroot starch and psyllium husk for binding, and non-dairy buttermilk for the soft, cushy texture.  So while my ratio looks quite different ingredient-wise:

1 part flour: 2 parts liquid : 1/5 part fat

It's actually doesn't stray that far from the original when you look at it in terms of function.

When the way food tastes now lines up with the way you remember food tasting back then, it's undeniably powerful.  And the fact that I was able to make it both gluten-free and vegan and still have it hold true to that original memory makes me beyond proud.

And I know that both my grandmothers would be proud, too.

Maraming Salamat Po, Lolas.

Big Thanks to T.R. for being a truly awesome host this month.  Be sure to check out his 3 (count 'em, 3) posts along with everyone else's delicious crepe offerings below.

So delicious I can hardly stand it.

Mrs. R / Honey From Flinty Rocks / Crepes - Spinach & Dessert
Adina / Gluten Free Travelette / Breakfast Crepes Three Ways
Angela / Angela's Kitchen / Buckwheat Crepes w/ Sweet Potato, Mushroom, & Kale
Caitlin / {Gluten-Free} Nom Nom Nom / Buckwheat Crepes
Caleigh / Gluten Free[k] / Banana Cinnamon Crepes
Caneel / Mama Me Gluten Free / Slightly Sweet Crepes w/ Bananas & Nutella
Charissa / Zest Bakery / Black Pepper Crepes w/ Chicken Tikka Masala
Claire / MyGlutenFreeHome / Victory Crepe Cake
Erin / The Sensitive Epicure / Socca w/ Za'atar & Sumac
Ginger / Fresh Ginger / Sweet n' Savory
gretchen / kumquat / nutella crepe cake
Heather / Discovering the Extraordinary / Southwestern Crepes
Jenn / Jenn Cuisine / Braised Duck, Fennel, & Chestnut Crepes
Karen / Cooking Gluten-Free! / Crepes Savory or Sweet
Mary Fran / FrannyCakes / Peanut Butter Crepe Cake
Mary Fran / FrannyCakes / Vanilla Bean Crepes Sucrees
Monika / Chew on This! / Dessert Crepes w/ Plantains, Coconut, & Chocolate
Morri / Meals with Morri / Russian Blini for Two
Pete & Kelli / No Gluten, No  Problem / Key Lime Crepes
Rachel / The Crispy Cook / Raspberries & Cream Crepes
Shauna / gluten-free girl / Buckwheat Crepes
T.R. / No One Likes Crumbley Cookies / Brownie Crepes w/ Strawberry Wine Sauce
T.R. / No One Likes Crumbley Cookies / Basil, Tomato, & Feta Crepes
T.R. / No One Likes Crumbley CookiesFresh Fruit Crepes
Tara / A Baking Life / Breakfast Crepes w/ Eggs & Kale


  1. What a great way to use crepes! I love how this looks, so vibrant and colourful. I will be trying these!

    1. Thank you, Caleigh! You can see why these were a childhood favorite. :)

  2. This is a fantastic post. Love the idea of crepes, Filipino style! Your garlic dipping sauce has got me thinking about dinner tonite!

    1. Thank you so much, Rachel! The sauce is indeed amazing - if you're a garlic lover like I am, you will love it. :)

  3. Yes you have undoubtedly made your grandmother proud--these look fantastic and I cannot wait to try them--College GF DF daughter home this week and she will be ecstatic!

    1. So excited for you and your daughter to try them, Karen! With all the GFDF crepe recipes this time around, you could easily enjoy crepes for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and/or dinner - which sounds pretty awesome if you ask me. Have an awesome week!

  4. I'm making these. Soon. I love the flavors, colors and it all just looks amazing!

    1. Thank you, Caneel! Especially as we head into the warmer months, I look forward to sharing these with friends, family, & loved ones. Eating them just leaves me feeling so rejuvenated and refreshed - looking forward to passing that along. :)

  5. These look amazing! I can't wait to try them :) Awesome recipe!

    1. Thank you, Alyssa! That means a lot to me. :)

  6. These look so healthy & fresh! I like it. Can't wait to try.

    1. Much appreciated, Erin! There are so many awesome crepe recipes from the Rally this month - where to begin? Looking forward to trying them all.

  7. Great job re-making these. They're beautiful! Can you bring me a few for lunch today? ;)

    1. Thank you, Lisa! Just give me an address and I'll be on my way... ;)

  8. Replies
    1. Yum, indeed! After popovers, I'm SO glad with how these turned out. Easy & so delicious. :)

  9. Lumpia power! =) Yeah, it's funny that you remembered the rude waiter and not the crêpes. Maybe it's because the crêpes weren't anything to write or in this case blog about ;p I myself remember ordering crêpes with a filling of crème de marron (sweet chestnut paste). I don't think they were that great and the fact the waiter dismissed Dad when he tried to make the effort to order in French and the waiter so rudely cut him off saying ' you can just order in English!' Quel Connard! (What an A-hole). Anyway, I think that the Lumpia you made turned out well and I may give them a go later this week. I told you about how I got some Acorn flour the other day; so I'll be playing around in the kitchen no matter what. Lola and Lola would be very happy to see this post =) Bien fait, mon frère!

    1. Yeah, the crepes must not have been that great. Plus, if you're rude to my family, that "bad taste in my mouth" will trump even the most delicious of foods. I hope you will give them a go - you can have them savory or sweet - no modification needed.

      Thanks for the comment, ading!

  10. The crepes look really great. I came to your blog while looking for vegan gluten free crepes. I will try this recipe for sweet filling?

  11. Thank you, Balvinder! Personally, I could use these for both sweet and savory fillings, but please feel free to add another teaspoon of sugar or some vanilla or almond extract. This recipes, like all recipes, is just a set of guidelines. Have fun and make them your own!

  12. Hi, Jonathan, this is very interesting to me, as I am Filipino, and like you, haven't really eaten this in many, many years! I like what you did with the crepes...all the GF flours you used. Although I have no sensitivities to wheat, I am very interested in using other flours in baking and cooking. Thanks for sharing this :)
    -jen laceda @ Tartine and Apron Strings

    1. Walang anuman, Jen! Using non-wheat flours opens so many doors, regardless of gluten sensitivity or allergy. Each one has a unique flavor and can provide so many different textures. It's definitely not boring, that much is certain. :)

  13. A Filipino friend used to make spring rolls for me (before I moved and before GF). I'm so excite to try these! I am starting a weekly Gluten-Free Share Page on It's brand new, but I hope it will become a great resource as it grows. I would love it if you added my party to your list of places to link up and shared some of your great ideas each week. I hope to see you there.

    1. Thanks for the invite, Heidi! I'll be sure to check it out. :)

  14. Hey Jonathan! I've been experimenting w/various gf and vegan lumpiang sariwa wrappers and I can't wait to try this recipe out, in addition to browsing through your blog! I've been a selective omnivore for years who often prepares food for gf and vegan folks and am now moving towards the gf direction myself. I'm curious if you've tried swapping in sweet rice flour/mochiko flour? Thanks again and hope you'll drop by my blog on Fil/Am food, land and identity too :)

  15. I hope you like it - the combo of quinoa and garbanzo bean flours really give it that flavor that I remember. I haven't tried swapping mochiko flour in, as I personally try to avoid grains, but I imagine it would be a great way to add flexibility and structure. It could easily swap for some of the starch or garbanzo flour.

    And re: your blog, I'm already a fan! Thank you for dropping a line - Magandang bagong taon!


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