I’ve got you under my skin…

The last time I had a photo of piansip in an earlier post, somebody said it was shui gao. Heavens no! They’re two totally different things…or perhaps, not exactly totally as they’re both meat dumplings. Let’s just say that this is the Sibu Chinese (Foochow) variation of the wantan dumplings that are better known in West Malaysia, Singapore and elsewhere.

The piansip skin is a lot thinner than shui gao or sio bee/siew mai. In fact, you can buy the skin at the wet market here in Sibu but you have to specify clearly that you want the piansip phoi (skin) and not the sio bee ones as you cannot use one to substitute for the other and if I’m not mistaken, the skin for wantan is firmer and slightly yellowish because of the egg content. Piansip skin is more or less white or at least, not as yellowish.

Usually, we just use the pieces of skin to wrap minced meat and throw them into boiling water. Add salt and msg and sprinkle fried onions and chopped spring onions and there you have it! Piansip soup! You can even buy the dried piansip skin in big pieces and plastic-wrapped  from the supermarket. Cook that with clear bone soup and you’ll get more or less the same thing.

However, they do it differently at the noodle stalls in the coffee shops. They will put a bit of lard, chio cheng (light soy sauce) and msg in a bowl and add clear bone soup…and they will cook the piansip in boiling water, drain and add them to the soup mixture in the bowl. Sprinkle fried onions and chopped spring onions and it’s ready to be served…

Soon Hock's piansip soup

Of course if you’re having piansip in the shops, do not expect to find a lot of meat in them. Take a look at them making the piansip – they will take the skin, scrape a bit of minced meat using a spatula (an ice cream stick, that is) and apply a thin layer of it onto the skin before rolling it up. I think in comparison,  I usually have more peanut butter on my bread.

And if you do not like soupy stuff, you can always order the dry version instead…

Soon Hock's piansip - dry

My daughter prefers hers this way but personally, I would like to have mine with kampua noodles or mee pok

Soon Hock's piansip mee pok

They do have deep-fried wantan at some places here in Sibu e.g. Singapore Chicken Rice. However, I do not know where they get the wantan skin from or whether they just use the locally-made piansip skin. But when it comes to piansip, my favourite is at Soon Hock’s…

Soon Hock coffee shop, Sibu

…at the Delta Commercial Centre, Jalan Pedada near my house and don’t worry! It certainly looks like the lady proprietor of that stall is keeping her hair short for good, so it is not likely that you’ll get a strand or two in your piansip. Anyway, she does not do the cooking very much these days – all she does is to collect and count the money and nag at her Foochow-speaking Indonesian helpers. Everytime after I have ordered what I want in Hokkien, the young Indon girl at the helm would confirm in Foochow saying, “Pian sik pak pak puak lak?” (Piansip…white – not with black soy sauce, that is and mixed with chilli?) LOL!!! It’s amazing how they can pick up the dialect so quickly and that well too, considering that the Foochow intonation is one that is not so easily mastered.