That’s How We Roll

WARNING: Do not read this blog if you are: a person, hungry, if you like food, or all of the above. Why? Because Chef Yohn made a delectable dish made just for the subspecies of Homo sapiens known as Zoo Keepers.

That’s right; It’s National Zoo Keeper Week and we’ve got a special edition of Animeals – designed, tested and approved by and for the Virginia Zoo’s very own Keeper staff.

Our Keepers get to observe all of the fresh goodies our animals get every single day, and they’ll be the first to admit they’re envious of what some of the animals get to eat. Chef Yohn wanted the Keepers to have some delicious food in their bellies, so he decided to make one of his favorite dishes to show appreciation for our hardworking animal care staff. Yohn took some time with this meal, but it’s well worth it. He’s making LUMPIA!

Lumpia is a spring roll of Chinese origin commonly found in Indonesia and the Philippines. It is a savory snack made of a thin crepe pastry skin called a “lumpia wrapper”, enveloping a mixture of savory fillings, consisting of chopped vegetables and sometimes minced meat. It is often served as an appetizer or snack, and is often served deep-fried.

Several of our Keepers have special or preferred diets, so Chef Yohn made different variations of lumpia to accommodate everyone. There are veggie lumpia, original lumpia and even gluten free lumpia – each just as tasty as the other, and all are (of-course) deep-fried. Check out this recipe, and get ready for your mouth to start watering!

“Chef Yohn is on a roll” Secret Lumpia Recipe


• 1 1/4 lb. of ground beef (skip for veggie-only lumpia)

• 1 egg

• 1 whole small cabbage, chopped

• 4 whole carrots, grated

• 1 green pepper, chopped

• 1 red pepper, chopped

• 1 whole medium onion, diced

• 8 cloves of garlic, minced

• 1/2 cup of low sodium, gluten free soy sauce

• 2 tablespoons of salt

• 2 tablespoons of lemon pepper

• 2 tablespoons of black pepper

• Pre-packaged lumpia wrappers or rice papers

• Water (for wetting)

• Corn or vegetable oil for frying

• Deep fryer (optional) OR large skillet pan


Step : Mix the beef, egg, cabbage, carrots, peppers, onion, garlic, salt, lemon and black pepper, and soy sauce together in a large bowl until you achieve a thick, sticky consistency.

Step : Lay a lumpia wrapper (or rice paper) flat on the table and slightly wet the edges with water using your fingers.

Step : Place one to two tablespoons of the mixture, about the size of a meatball, 1/2 inch away from the edge of the wrapper as shown.

Step : Start rolling the wrapper with the mixture inside, stopping about half way.

Step : Fold the two side ends over to the middle and continue wrapping until the mixture is completely wrapped.

Step : Repeat until you have used all of your mixture and wrappers.

Step : Using a deep fryer, fill the fryer with the recommended amount of oil according to your fryer manufacturer and turn on high heat.

Step : Once the oil is hot, gently place the lumpia in the basket, careful not to overcrowd. Around 5-10 pieces at a time is perfect.

Step : Fry the lumpia, occasionally turning the rolls to cook evenly.

Step : Once they are golden brown, remove them individually and lay them on a paper towel-lined plate or bowl. The towel helps soak in excess oil.

Step : Let the lumpia cool for two minutes, then serve. Chef Yohn suggests pairing the lumpia with a Thai peanut dipping sauce!

*Chef Yohn prepared and cooked this meal in the staff kitchen, not the Zoo’s Animal Diet Kitchen, as this kitchen is for preparation for the animals’ food only.