Popiah (Fresh Spring Rolls)
Popiah (Malaysian Fresh Spring Rolls) Recipe
3/4 cup cooking oil
20 fresh popiah wrappers
Fresh lettuce leaves, wash and drained dry
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
8 oz shrimp, shelled, deveined and cut into small pieces
2 lbs yambean or jicama, grated
2 oz french beans, sliced
4 bean curd, diced into small pieces
Some store-bought fried shallot crisps, optional
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon white pepper powder
1 teaspoon sugar or to taste
1 cup water
1/2 cup sweet sauce (tee cheo) or Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup chili sauce (Sriracha or Lingham Hot Sauce)
In a deep pot, add in the remaining oil until heated. Transfer the garlic into the deep pot and stir fry until aromatic, add in the prawn and stir fry until slightly cooked.
Add in the yambean or jicama, french beans, salt, pepper, sugar and water, stir well. Reduce the heat and simmer until the yambean or jicama turns soft, for about 30 minutes. Taste the filling, add more salt and sugar to taste. Dish out the filling and keep aside to cool. The filling might be slightly watery.
Lay a piece of the Popiah wrapper on a flat board. Spread a little sweet sauce or hoisin sauce and a little chili sauce on it. Place a lettuce leaf over the sauces. Spoon 3 tablespoons of filling onto the leaf. Top with the fried bean curd and fried shallot crisps. Fold up the two sides of the wrapper and roll up. (You can view the step-by-step pictures of rolling popiah here.) If you wish, you can scoop a tablespoon of the filling juice on top of the Popiah. Serve immediately.
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.