Popiah (薄餅) is a type of fresh spring rolls commonly found in Malaysia, Singapore, Medan, and Taiwan. Filled with shredded vegetables and more, Popiah is a popular street food in Malaysia. It’s also one of the popular dishes served at home; the concoction is especially fun and rewarding if shared with friends and family.
I grew up with countless popiah, freshly made by my late mother. On the days she made popiah, all the female cooks in my family would gather around to help: slicing and shredding jicama, cutting French beans, shelling shrimp, dicing bean curds, and cooking the filling—which would take hours as we would make a huge batch for our big family. But as soon as my mother declared the words “popiah is ready,” my elder siblings and I would all rush to the kitchen, grabbing our plate, and busy assembling, rolling, and savoring our own popiah. There was always so much energy, anticipation, and excitement in the house whenever we had popiah; not only was mom’s popiah delicious and utterly gratifying, we always had so much fun “playing” with the food.
Popiah is of Chinese origin, from the Fujian province. I have tried many variations, in Xiamen (probably its place of origin), Taipei, Singapore, Medan, and other places in Malaysia, but my favorite is still the ones made by mom. I love having friends over and having a popiah party, and everyone will be busy rolling and eating. Here is the popiah recipe of my mother, ones which is much-cherished, not only because of its supreme flavor, but also the flood of memories it brings.