Sunday, June 26, 2011

Foodbuzz 24 x 24: Wrap-n-Roll Summer Popiah Party

My family's semi-homemade DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Popiah is a welcoming hit among all of us. Every time I am back in Singapore, I try to get my Popiah fix either from hawker stalls or at my parents'. Other than getting to enjoy homemade Popiah this time, I also made the effort to "document" the Popiah-making process. I can't say it is a difficult process but tedious? YES.

The red hue you see is the chili sauce that is smeared on the inside of the skin, then rolled up with vegetables fillings.

Popiah is the pronunciation in Hokkien-Fujian dialect. We also call it 薄饼 (Bao Bing), literally meaning "thin-biscuit" in Mandarin. You can broadly classify it as Spring Roll if you want to. But personally, my idea of Spring Roll is typically fried. So I would rather call it Popiah or maybe Fresh Spring Roll (non-fried)? "Thin-biscuit"? Popiah is definitely not biscuit but being thin as paper? Almost. The wrapper skin is typically a soft, thin paper-like crepe or pancake made from wheat flour (different wrapper from the Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls); then wraps and encloses an inside of vegetable fillings and spicy-sweet sauce.

Technically, there are no distinct seasons in Singapore or maybe the "rainy' season is in fact a season? It is humid summer (coincidentally summer in the US too) all-year-round in Singapore - hot and humid. So anytime is a good time for some veggie rolls to lighten up our loads and whet our appetites.

Remember: It is never Pronto Popiah. A DIY Popiah at home requires planning. A Summer Wrap-n-Roll Popiah Party to enjoy good food, great company and share the love. Summer is such a perfect time to eat, drink and be merry. Let's go! Let's roll!

[Key Ingredients]: Leeks, jicama, French beans, carrots, cabbage, (optional-firm tofu).

A healthy basket to begin with, ends with DELICIOUS SATISFACTION

Turn the basket of vegetables to this (below), and half the battle is won.

Clockwise from left: Finely grated jicama, finely grated carrots, tiny pieces of tofu, finely diced French beans, finely diced leeks, julienned cabbage

[Food Preparation I - Cut. Slice. Chop. Grate. Julienne]: Painstakingly time-consuming but well worth the efforts. You may also use the grater to finely slice the carrots and jicama. [Aromatics]: Minced dried shrimps and/or pork/chicken dices.

Food Preparation I

[Food Preparation II - Fry]: First, aromatize the finely minced dried shrimps and pork slices (Note: If vegetarian, just omit these and use some soy sauce, salt and white pepper as light flavoring during the frying process); followed by aromatizing the leeks and jicama.

Leeks add great flavor to the Popiah veggie-fry

After 5-8 minutes, add the carrots, cabbage, mix well into the leeks and jicama.

Fry for about 2-3 minutes, then add some water/stock and allow the mixture to simmer at low-medium heat till the vegetables are cooked and flavors have developed and combine. This takes about 12-15minutes. (Note1: If adding tofu, add last).

[Food Preparation III- Wrapper. Sides. Condiments]: Veggie sides are usually lettuce (e.g. romaine or buttercup is fine) and gently blanched bean sprouts wrapped with the cooked veggie fillings within the Popiah skin.


Side Note: Bought and not prepared at home were the essential condiments of sweet sauce, garlic paste and chili sauce and quintessential Popiah skin - that we bought from Joo Chiat store - Kway Guan Huat* - the Popiah skin "expert". I did mentioned earlier it was semi-homemade :)  More about the Popiah skin "experts" later. Now... on to,

[Food Preparation IV - Wrap]: Lay a piece of Popiah skin on a flat wide-base plate. Place 1-2 leaves of lettuce on the skin, then smear the condiment-sauce on the skin or lettuce. Also place some blanched bean sprouts on the lettuce, then scoop up the Popiah veggie fillings (Note2: careful to squeeze the excess moisture out of the veggie fillings before placing them into the wrap) and lay them on the lettuce.

There are many ways to wrap. That's how my Mom does hers...

Once ready, fold up the 2 sides (left and right) of the skin, and roll it up!


The veggie fillings are very flavorful with the light savory aroma and sweetness from the vegetables. And with fresh handmade Popiah skin, it sure makes savoring Popiah one of the most delightful and satisfying.

One of my favorite foods, seriously! So delicious. I can eat 4 rolls at one go and I bet you, 20 rolls would not be enough to go around in a party of 6.

*More about Kway Guan Huat - The Original Popiah Maker Since 1938:
Making and selling freshly handmade Popiah skin for over 70 years - (so you know why we left the daunting task to them), their Popiah skins are made the traditional way, using a secret family recipe handed down from their forefathers in Fujian province, China. For more details, check their website.
(Photo courtesy of www.joochiatpopiah.com)

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Thank you Foodbuzz 24 x 24 (24 meals in 24 hours) for making this Summer Wrap-n-Roll Popiah Party possible, and sharing such food love around. It shows...food has indeed no boundaries. :D