Tuesday, September 10, 2013

#Eatsomethingnice 11 - Popiah

proudly a part of #Saysomethingnice

image credit: Veronica Ng

Popiah which means “thin biscuit” in Hokkien refers to the popular soft crepe like wrapper of Malaysia’s version of the spring roll. Our western friends describe it as kind of an Asian burrito, except that our popiah filling is much more complicated and contains so many more ingredients than a regular burrito.

Malaysians will proudly declare their popiah as being the best with its perfect combination of sweetness from the sauce, the savoriness and spiciness of chili and garlic, and the crunch of cooling vegetables. Besides the soft and wet version, there is also an equally popular deep fried version as well.

A freshly made popiah skin is a thin, pliable, and stretchy crepe made from wheat flour. As you bite into it, savor the complex flavors as the filling saturates your taste buds. Embrace that first hit of jicama (bangkuang) followed by the slight brown bean and garlicky flavors plus the richness that comes from the combination of root vegetables, shrimp and tofu all rounded together to give it sweetness that is also savory. It is a beautiful sweetness because of the root vegetables having exuded the flavors into the mix.

The original method of producing the wrapper involved making an extremely wet and viscous dough. A ball of this dough was held to the right hand, then quickly "rubbed" against a hot steel plate in a circular fashion, and lifted.

Through this process, a very thin layer of the wet dough adhered to the plate and began to cook. The upper surface of the crepe was then usually cleaned of excess pieces of dough using the dough ball through a dabbing process. When the dough had been cooked to completion, it was peeled off of the hot steel plate before being removed.

The rubbing was typically done over two or three plates at once, which allowed the maker to continuously produce crepes and gave the proper time for each crepe to be properly cooked.

Today the filling is mainly finely grated and steamed or stir-fried turnip, jicama which has been cooked with a combination of other ingredients such as bean sprouts, French beans, and lettuce leaves, depending on the individual vendor, along with grated carrots, thinly sliced fried tofu, chopped peanuts or peanut powder, fried shallots, and shredded omelet. Topping all that is the spicy kick from the chilies and the garlic and the sweet sauce. Seaweed is often included in the modern twist versions.

The raw ingredients for the filling i.e cucumber and blanched bean sprouts need to be painstakingly sliced, diced and julienned. Then there are the seasonings or condiments that add yet another level of flavor to this dish. These additional fixings include parboiled prawns that have been shelled, deveined and sliced in half, perfectly hard boiled eggs that have been diced by hand and minced garlic.

If you think making popiah is laborious, building the popiah takes even more skill and practice. All of the ingredients are tasty, but your vendor wouldn’t want to put too much in it or he will over-stuff your popiah and then it will explode all over your plate once you try to bite into it. The perfect popiah will always have a good balance of flavors.

Popiah is eaten in accompaniment with a sweet sauce (often a bean sauce), a blended soy sauce or hoisin sauce or a shrimp paste sauce and optionally with hot chilli sauce before it is filled.

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Blogger Suzainur KAR said...

Nao I is hungwy ...

1:08 pm  

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