Popiah

Chinese April 14th, 2008

popiah

Popiah or Popia is a dish which my mum usually cook during Ching Ming Festival (April). I have yet to learn this dish because it is labourous and demanding. I must say that I am quite biased (and with good reasons) with Popiahs because to me, only mum’s Popiah is the best (and many others say so too). Her Popiah is unlike what is sold commercially as it contains more than 10 ingredients and the vegetables are painstakingly cut into fine slivers (just slightly thicker than a toothpick) rather than going through a shredding tool. It is no wonder then that relatives would “book” a few (or quite a lot) rolls of Popiah whenever they hear that she is making some.

According to mum, there can be no shortcut to making a good Popiah. The ones sold outside which are predominantly turnip and carrot filling just don’t do justice to how a good Popiah should be made and taste like. Even the sauce spread is sourced from southern Johor / Singapore – sweet flour sauce. I suppose this is because coming from Pontian, our tastebud is much influenced by what’s available down south. And that’s not all, Popiah skin which is specially ordered from the market is used rather than the ones sold in supermarket and kept frozen. Yes, we are very particular indeed in making a good tasting Popiah.

When I asked mum for the recipe for this Popiah, I was stuck actually because mum does not use a measuring type of recipe. Rather, just like how cooking is like second nature, the ingredients and seasoning are a matter of estimates or what we Malaysians call “agak-agak”. Hence, I had to help her to make a rough estimate of the ingredients used to make this delicious dish of Popiah. If you are game for a cooking challenge, try this Popiah recipe especially if you can get your hands on the exact ingredients available. You won’t be disappointed.

This is mum’s recipe for Popiah

Ingredients
Filling (A)

  • 1 bowl belly pork (3 layer pork) (boiled for 5 minutes, cooled and shredded finely)
  • 1 bowl shelled prawns (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 bowl turnip (cut into fine slivers just thicker than a toothpick)
  • 1 bowl french beans (cut into fine slivers just thicker than a toothpick)
  • 1 bowl carrot (cut into fine slivers just thicker than a toothpick)
  • 1/2 bowl cabbage (cut into fine slivers just thicker than a toothpick)
  • 1 bowl firm bean curd (cut into fine slivers just thicker than a toothpick and deep fried)
  • 1 bowl bamboo shoot (cut into fine slivers just thicker than a toothpick)
  • 1/2 bowl shallots (cut finely)
  • 1/4 bowl garlic (cut finely)
  • 5 tablespoons oil

Seasoning (B)

  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper powder
  • 4 tablespoons light soya sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brandy

(C)

  • 4 large eggs (beaten, fried thinly omelette-style in non-stick pan and cut into thin shreds)
  • 1 cup bean sprouts (tailed and blanched)
  • 1 cup finely shredded cucumber
  • 1 cup pork loin (boiled till cooked, allow to cool and shred finely using fingers)
  • Lettuce and chinese celery
  • 1 cup peanut sugar (toast peanut in wok till brown, remove peanut skin, ground it till almost fine and mix with sugar on 1 peanut:1/2 sugar ratio)
  • Sweet flour sauce
  • Chilli spread (optional. Blend red chilli with garlic)
  • Popiah skin

Method

Separate the following into 5 equal portions:- pork belly, prawns, shallots, garlic and cooking oil.

Heat 1st portion of oil in wok and fry 1st portion of shallots and garlic till aromatic. Add pork belly and prawns and stir well for 2 minutes. Add turnips and stir till turnips slightly limp. Remove from wok and place in a big pot.

Cook the rest of the ingredients (french beans, carrot, cabbage and bamboo shoots) one by one just like how the turnips were cooked above and layer them in the pot.

After the 5 main ingredients were cooked and layered in the pot, heat up the pot and add the fried bean curd. Add seasoning and mix the ingredients thoroughly. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep the ingredients warm till required.

To serve the Popiah, place a piece of Popiah skin on a flat round plate. Spread a teaspoon of sweet flour sauce (and chilli spread if desired) in the centre of the skin and sprinkle some peanut sugar on the sauce. Tear a piece of lettuce and place over the peanut sugar. Using a tablespoon and fork, place 2 to 3 spoonfuls of filling ingredients (A) on top of the lettuce after squeezing out excess gravy. Arrange the ingredients like a sausage / roll. Top with a little fried egg, bean sprouts, cucumber, pork loin and chinese celery. Fold the sides, tuck in firmly then roll up tightly.

Serve immediately.

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Comments

  1. 1
    gaga
    April 15th, 2008 at 12:55 am

    I love Popiah, but it’s so hard to find. It’s great to have a recipe so I can make it myself! Thanks!

  2. 2
    tigerfish
    April 15th, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    I like Popiah too and never made them myself before. Like what you said, so tedious..esp to prepare and grate the veg!

  3. 3
    parisb
    April 15th, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Just like you, no popiah is better than Mom’s! I love her turnip filling. The problem I find is in getting good popiah skin. Frozen ones are only good for frying not for eating “fresh”. Gosh! I wonder if I can pester mom into making popiah some time soon! :D

  4. 4
    pablopabla
    April 16th, 2008 at 11:18 am

    gaga : All the best! Hope you will be able to make it and post it in your blog as well :D

    tigerfish : But then hor, if we don’t make this, then the skills and recipe might just die out :P

    parisb : You can get good popiah skin at Pudu wet market. Made to order and sold by weight. You just need to tell them how big you want the skin to be and how much in weight.

  5. 5
    imDavidLee
    April 18th, 2008 at 9:34 am

    im noob in cooking…this popiah require so much ingredient , i don think i wil try to learn the recipe..i wan learn simple way to do like fry an egg..haha

  6. 7
    babe_kl
    April 21st, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    *fainted looking at the long list of ingredients* hahaha i think i will just buy from my fave stall :p

  7. 8
    pablopabla
    April 21st, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    imDavidlee : LOL! Yeah, this is one for the experts :D

    babe_kl : *runs and brings a bottle of minyak kapak* That should make u feel better :D

  8. 9
    noobcook
    April 23rd, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    woah… your mum’s popiah is indeed filled with good stuff, it even has cucumber, pork, tofu , french beans and cabbage!! No wonder you ‘reject’ those sold outside, I would too if I were you, heh

  9. 10
    pablopabla
    April 23rd, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    noobcook : Oh yes…bordering on luxurious indeed ;)

  10. 11
    reeseboston
    April 27th, 2008 at 11:56 am

    My Oh My!! That is like a mile long list of ingredients. I bet the popiah is very good, given the ingredients used. Wanna send some to me? : )

  11. 12
    pablopabla
    April 28th, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    reeseboston : I would if I could. This is like a once a year cookout due to the labourious processes involved :P

  12. 15
    Sharon Yap
    June 8th, 2008 at 4:27 am

    love your website. i just stumble onto it. i live in Vancouver, British Columbia. the popiah skin yr mom used is it store bought? if so where?

  13. 16
    pablopabla
    June 10th, 2008 at 8:51 am

    Sharon : The popiah skin was bought from the wet market. Pre-ordered by weight. It is different from those sold in supermarkets at the cold section as the latter is thicker and more suitable for making fried popiah.

  14. 17
    TaiwaneseMike
    July 14th, 2008 at 10:45 am

    FYI cut into fine slivers just thicker than a toothpick = julienne

  15. 18
    billy
    July 23rd, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Sounds yumm…. I think the challenge for me is, where to get popiah skin and sweet flour sauce??? It is not easy to find these things when you live outside of Malaysia as it is not common.

    I would be interested to know how to make popiah skin and the sweet flour sauce.

    nice site by the way

  16. 19
    Amanda Au
    January 8th, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I just came upon your website while searching for a recipe. You have a fantastic website. I especially love the great food photographs (makes me hungry) and how-to videos which are such a great help.

    I like to try your popiah recipe, but do not know where to get the sweet flour sauce. I live in Singapore, and do go shopping in JB once in a while. I might be able to get it there. Can you recommend the brand that you use?

    Thanks!

  17. 20
    Lei Lei
    April 28th, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Interesting website. Hope more non-malaysian would look at this website to learn about truly malaysian food. I live in Brisbane, Australia. I’ve been looking for a reliable popiah skin recipe for some time. It is soooo difficult and frustrating. My Malaysian friends don’t know. I’ve tried a few recipes but the skin breaks when wrap with filling. Please give me the original popiah skin recipe (no egg)or tell me which website to find one.

  18. 21
    JODIE
    June 17th, 2009 at 11:59 am

    I am staying in Puchong and I would like to know where can I get the fresh Popiah skin, we are having a Pot luck party this Sat and someone suggest we have Popiah using your mum recipe and I will be the one responsible to buy Popiah skin, so help

  19. 22
    pablopabla
    June 18th, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Jodie : Some wet markets have them. You can get them from Pudu market if you don’t mind the drive.

  20. 24
    Christina
    October 13th, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Hi!

    Love your website! I’m a Singaporean residing in Norway. I’d love to try out some of your recipes. Though not all ingredients are easily available here, we could still get for example, frozen wanton and popiah skins from the Asian supermarkets. My late Ah Mah who hailed from Penang, used to make (in my opinion) the best popiah ever. All ingredients painstakingly prepared and fresh to the tee. Thanks for reviving such lovely memories! Will surely try some of the stuff here.

  21. 25
    Fitri
    October 21st, 2009 at 6:31 am

    I’m engaged to a Norwegian. Prolly when we do move to Norway I should look up the Indonesians / Malaysians/ Singaporeans to start a cooking club or something :) (in response to fellow reader Cristina’s comment above…)

    Thanks for the great recipes, Pablo! Recently tried the carrot cake and it sure was a crowd pleaser at the dinner party :)

  22. 26
    Hock H.E.Tan
    November 15th, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Hi,
    I saw your receipe for popiah.Where are you from and do you sell popiah or just for personal consumption? It is interesting to note that people have different receipes for popiah. I am from Malacca . I am from a peranakan family. My parents speak Malay and since i was brought up in a Malay kampong for 22 years i couldn,t speak chinese. What about you? I hope to hear from you. Thank you.

  23. 27
    pablopabla
    November 17th, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Tan : My family and I are from Johor and the popiahs are made for personal consumption, especially during the Ching Ming festival period.

  24. 28
    Annemarie
    January 14th, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Made this tonight. Quite some work but very yummy!

  25. 29
    CCL
    February 25th, 2010 at 3:15 am

    Hi,I’m a Malaysien residing in Germany,I missed Malaysia foods so much, my children only like europe´s food, there will feel boring when I talk about Malaysia´s food, because they never taste the real one, I´m glad to find this website!,there are many I wanna to try,but I still hope if you have the receipe for Popiah skin for me ,because there is no change to buy in Germany.
    Thanks,

  26. 30
    pablopabla
    February 25th, 2010 at 11:47 am

    CCL : Hi! I’m afraid I don’t have the recipe for popiah skin. Are you able to buy the refrigerated popiah skins?

  27. 31
    Mrs Top Monkey
    May 2nd, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Hi Pablo, long time no comment on your site. Been busy taking care of household and baby.
    I was thinking of making popiahs for the hubby to snack on and searched your site (your site is my default chinese recipe site). Alamak… what a long list of ingredients! I think I will try this one day when I’m very, very, very free.

  28. 32
    Sally
    July 6th, 2010 at 1:36 am

    Does anyone know how to make tee cheo (sweet sauce) for popiah. We are not able to buy the commercial version here (San Francisco) and I find that using hoisin sauce is not quite right.

  29. 33
    Kathy
    September 3rd, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Hi, Has anyone got the recipe for popiah skin yet? I leave in Sydney, Australia and have tried to buy it here with no sucess.
    I have found some on other web site but something is not quite right, can seems to make it.

  30. 34
    Grace Lee
    September 16th, 2010 at 11:01 am

    YUM! I love Poh piah, but I take the hassle of making the skin by using Springroll skins.

    So Kathy – I’m in Melbourne, and I just buy the frozen thing springroll skins, and defrost it and use that. You can get that from any asian grocery…. and we use the smaller ones for peking duck Too!

  31. 35
    TimeToChow
    May 11th, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    thanks for sharing your family recipe. wow lots of ingredients huh! :)
    my aunt makes amazing popiah too, just like your mom. she used to prepare everything and lay it at the table. with the veggies on low simmer on the stove. as a child, i loved making my own popiah. so much fun and of course delicious. she made her own popiah skin too. which really made a huge difference. as the skin was fresh….. anyways. sorry i was just reminiscing. but just wanted to say thanks for sharing and i look forward to making this soon. hopefully i can get my aunts recipe to compare.
    and yes hoisin is not the same thing. perhaps consider what they use for jianbing which may be the same or similar. depending on the flavor profile of your hoisin, you can adjust the taste and consistency. some resto use hoisin as a base for the peking duck wrapper saucy thingy…

  32. 36
    Cooking For Chinese
    July 27th, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Get yourself a food processor with the grating blade. It makes preparation safer and quicker!

    Excellent recipe.

  33. 37
    lena
    October 25th, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Hi,I have tried out this popiah skin recipe. It’s not hard if you can master it. Remember you must beat it till it all the dough leaves the side, meaning it only clinked to the beating hook. Here is the recipe:

    http://lilyng2000.blogspot.sg/search?q=popiah+skin

    Good Luck.

    Lena

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