I did it all…

I love the Bintangor lady’s popiah (spring rolls) here, the ones that are available on weekends only, Saturday and Sunday. She calls them Kuching popiah though I would not say hers is anything like what I have had in the state capital. It does not seem to have much else inside other than the sengkuang or what we call mangkuang (turnip or jicama) here and a bit of our local lettuce plus a whole lot of crushed peanuts and what tasted like the very nice Bintangor rojak sauce.

Of course, it is nothing like what we used to make in our family, my mum and my maternal aunties but there is a problem getting fresh popiah skin here and we are not fond of the ones sold in packets in the supermarkets so that is why I am quite reluctant to make any of my own. Probably the last time I had some fresh popiah skin at hand was in 2010 and I did blog about it here and here or maybe, I did do it another time after that but I don’t remember exactly when now.

Ah yes!!! There was that one time when my sister bought some from a lady selling tofu at the Sibu Central Market and asked me to make for the family. She had to make a booking the day before and go and collect the next morning – and that is the part that I do not like. Who knows what may crop up the next day and one would not be able to go and collect or perhaps I would change my mind and decide not to make any popiah after all?

Well, the other morning, I went to the market. I don’t know what made me do it but I did and I went and asked at the tofu stalls which one of them sold freshly-made popiah skin. Having identified her, I went and asked if she had any popiah skin for sale and she told me she did not have any there but if I could wait, she would call home and get them to send over…and that was what she did and I went home happily with the skin and all the ingredients that I had bought in the meantime to make the popiah.

Of course, there must be the turnip…

Mangkuang

…which I grated manually using a grater. Most people these days would probably use a food processor but when I was little, I used to help my mum cut it real fine, so very thinly, with a knife!

Well, that was exactly what I did with the French beans…

French beans

You may use long beans instead but some people say the popiah tastes nicer with French beans and anyway, there was a big bag of those in the fridge so I used them instead, painstakingly slicing each bean one by one as thinly as I could.

Next, I went on to prepare the other ingredients needed to cook the filling…

Other ingredients for cooking the filling

…starting with the garlic (bottom left), finely chopped, and going anti-clockwise, I had some minced meat, prawns that I had cut into tiny cubes (not minced), a bit of carrot that I also found in the fridge, mainly for the colour and some tau kua (bean curd cakes), also cut into little cubes.

It seems that these days, they do sell those tau kua, pre-fried, at 70 sen each so if you want to cut and stuff them with meat to cook the very nice soup, you can buy these instead of having to go through the chore of doing it yourself. I only bought those because I thought the light brown outer layer would add a little bit of colour to the filling. In the old days, the tau kua was yellow on the outside but there was this piece of news going round then that the colouring used was harmful to health so it was banned and since then, our tau kua has always been…white.

To cook the filling, I fried the garlic in a bit of oil till golden brown and then I added the prawns and the meat and after that, the French beans and the carrot went in. Once done, the tau kua and the turnip followed and for the seasoning, I added fish sauce and pepper…and very soon, it was done…

Popiah filling

I also had to prepare the ingredients needed for the wrapping of the popiah

Other ingredients

– the blended chili with garlic and lime (top right) and going clockwise, some lettuce, thinly-sliced omelette, crushed peanuts and this sweet glue-like stuff that we use to stick down the edges of the skin.

They do not sell the very nice Sibu-made khong th’ng anymore so I just had to use the kacang tumbuk (crushed peanut cakes) sold at the supermarket instead and to make that glue-like stuff, I was supposed to caramelise some sugar in low heat till brown in  colour, add water and corn starch to thicken it but I took the short cut and used gula Melaka (brown palm sugar) instead. Hehehehehe!!!

You may go in any order when you wrap the popiah but usually, I would apply the chili first, and then the egg and the filling would go on top, after which, I would sprinkle the crushed peanuts all over them and place a piece of lettuce over it. Once I had applied the glue-like stuff all along the edge of the popiah skin, I would roll it up and it was done.

If you are wondering what the end product looked like, here’s a cross-section of one that I made…

My popiah 1

…that day. Nice, eh?

There were a few left over by tea time that afternoon and I found that the skin was not so nice anymore after having been left exposed like that. It became kind of tough and rubbery so I deep-fried them…

My popiah, deep fried

…and yes, it was very nice after that!

But of course, deep frying is not all that healthy even though it does bring the taste to a whole new level so it would be best to sit down as soon as everything is ready, wrap and eat the popiah fresh…

My popiah 2

…and not leave them till later.

For one thing, I found that it was really hard work – so many things to do and I did it all by myself and perhaps owing to my old age, it was kind of tiring and I surely would think twice should another instant of temporary insanity ever threaten to possess me again.

Well, if anyone is interested in ordering the popiah skin, the lady’s telephone contact is 019-9733 728 and her stall is by one of the pillars somewhere in the middle of the tofu and taugeh stalls at the market or you can always do what I did – ask!

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Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

13 thoughts on “I did it all…”

  1. I am super impressed at how diligent you are to make your own popiah. The cross-section looks so delicious! Did you roll some for your wife or did she wrap them herself?

    Yes, it was sheer hard work! What to do? No good ones here except one and that one’s not the same. There are nice ones in Kuching and they are not the same as how we do it either and theirs are different from the KL and Singapore ones with the sengkuang stewed with oyster sauce till soft and soggy – I like those too, something different for a change.

    Once done, we all sat down to roll our own and eat – my missus would do her own and my girl, hers. The thing with the fresh skin is – it must be covered with a damp cloth. If I were to roll a lot and leave them there, the skin would not be so nice anymore – that was why I fried the leftovers, come later in the afternoon.

  2. I love Spring rolls! 🙂

    I guess you can get the fried ones at the Chinese dim sum/yum cha places there or at the Thai or Vietnamese restaurants there. Not sure if you can get the fresh skin ones overseas – they have here, all not nice except one and that one is not the same as how we do it in the family. 😦

  3. Wow, your popiah looks very impressive & every bite is goodness as the plate claims. Of course, homemade ones are always the best but for goodness sake, don’t ask me to make. That involves alot of tedious work. Once I made chai kuih, prepare almost the same ingredients for the fillings but minus all the sauces, guess what???…that is the first & last time I make. Sorry too much work.

    Yes, so so so much work! It is all right for me now as I have retired, lots of time and nothing to do but still, I probably would not be making again for a long long time…plus I thought the skin is no longer as good as before – not paper thin, not very nice. Almost the same as using the very much cheaper frozen ones.

  4. You deserve a pat on your back, Arthur. Making popiah is a lot of work & your popiah definitely looks mouthwatering.

    *takes a bow* Not cheap either. Popiah skin is now RM12.00 akg, almost the same price as the prawns, RM15.00 a kg. Once in a long while, ok lah…buang gian.

  5. It sure is hard work! Results look superb, though.

    Yes, I was mighty pleased with myself, very nice even though the popiah skin quality is no longer like what it used to be.

  6. I know it’s not because of age for my case. Even when I was still in KL, I never thought of making it once because it was tiring and complicating (for me) to do it.

    Good job, btw! It looks as delicious as the ones sold by the hawker stalls. =)

    Not the hawker stalls here – they may have some home pre-made ones at the kueh and cakes stalls, all not nice. I would not bother buying any…but then again, most of the stuff they sell here are not nice – not like the stalls and other places in Kuching.

    Yes, it may not be tiring for young people but the passion may not be there – that’s how it is in cooking, the love for it and the pleasure derived from seeing the end result, so very nice and seeing people enjoy eating. That makes it all worthwhile the effort.

  7. Wow! You are really wonderful in the kitchen. That is a lot of hard work! No, no, I will not do it 😀 Your ingredients are all so finely chopped/sliced. And your popiah, ah! can give those sold outside a run for their money. I prefer the ones that are not fried. But I will not say no to those fried ones either. Two thumbs up for your effort!

    Thank you, thank you. I thought it looked very nice too, and yes, it tasted great too just that it was simply too much work. If I can buy anything half as nice outside, I would just go and buy, sure would not want to go through all that.

  8. Beautifully made. You are so patient in making popiah. It takes time and effort.

    I had years of practice. Used to help my mum in the kitchen, the wrath I would have to face when what I cut was not fine enough. Khak eyew tam pok, anay chor lor!!! Pin tua kui!!! I guess all that has paid off so it all comes naturally now.

  9. This looks like a good wholesome rendition of popiah – back in malacca, we have an extra secret ingredient to add in the stuffing – crispy pork lard! It gives a luscious sort of crunchiness to the popiah! 😉

    I don’t think that is what they have in the crispy popiah? They have Malay girls selling those at the stall at Mid Valley and also at an outlet at a mall here in Sibu. I think they put those prawn crackers. Some people seem to like it – I did not even bother to buy and try, did not look appealing to me.

    In Kuching, a must-have ingredient in their popiah would be the daun ketumbar. coriander leaves. They use those to garnish their Sarawak laksa too…and if you see people removing those and putting them aside, they’re probably from Sibu. Most of us here don’t like them, smell of bedbug. They have those at the Thai restaurants in town, dunno where they get them from. Not sold at the market here, nobody will buy.

  10. Oh my goodness, you are really “hardworking” to whoop those up… yes, I understand how much effort and hard work had taken place… moral of the story: Just buy from Payung cafe and enjoy eating under the cooling atmosphere.. hahahaha… Me the lazy one.. so much work, I rather buy… but of course, homemade ones are healthy and nice too!

    Payung’s are mushroom rolls, not the same. Nice also but not the same, like the ones sold by that lady here on weekends, also very nice but not the same. So when I want the same – like what my mum used to make, I would have no choice but to do it all by myself…with all that love and passion that would go into it. Some things, money just can’t buy.

    Sad that this is probably the end of the road – when I am gone, there would not be anybody to make these delights this exact same way anymore. I think that is what happened to the popiah skin – the old folks have retired or died, the young ones taking over just do not have the touch…and here, there is just ONE making it. Not all that nice, not the same but if they do not make, then no more. Sad, isn’t it?

  11. Thumb up to your popiah, i am the lazy type, don’t think i will have the patient…

    Not just patience, love and passion too! That is why when the young ones take over, they go through the motions but what they dish out is never quite the same, not so nice…and at times, not nice at all. Sad.

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own.

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