Thursday, November 13, 2008

[Home Cooking] Popiah

Sis BB had asked how to do popiah. So this post is dedicated to her.

Popiah is a traditional Hokkien dish and appear on auspicious days (which one I can't remember). I am sure other dialect groups have something similar.

But of course you can cook it whenever you want to and alter/add/subtract any ingredients you want/like/fancy/hate/can't find/can't be bothered.

Popiah ingredients
I always have the above ingredients in my popiah.

Clockwise starting from top middle:-
Cabbage (cut into fine shreds)
Carrots, julienned (cut into match stick size)
Taukwa (firm beancurd, cut into strips)
Fried shallots (you can cut and fry your own if you feel you don't have enough work already)
Long beans (a.k.a snake beans, substitute with french beans if can't find, finely sliced)
Pork, cut into strips and marinate with salt, pepper, sesame oil and cornstarch

The ingredients above were missing omelette strips (forgot to snap), leeks (finely sliced) and prawns (optional) as I don't have them at hand.

Now preparing all these ingredients and cooking them is a time-consuming task and so required a good knife to speed things up (and prevent unnecessary injuries or a trip to psychiatric ward haha) and a good stir fry pan (the one which distribute heat evenly and cook your stuff faster).

My chosen 'weapon' is a Global chef knife and a non-stick Calphalon pan. I cooked everything in just that one pan, sai lei leh hehehe. Get ready a big container/bowl to store the ingredients as they cooked.

Now all the vege/meat need to be cooked separately as they cooked at different rate. But if you are feeling, don't go there, lazy, stay away from popiah!!

First I cook the cabbage in a little oil like 1 tsp (if you're in UK, I suggest you use pointy cabbage as they tend to cook faster than the round cousin or else you will spend an eternity in the kitchen 'watching' your cabbage and other people finishing brekkie, lunch and dinner and you could still be cooking popiah. OK exaggerating XD). Cook at medium heat and avoid adding water if you can otherwise you will end up with a soggy mess later. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and dish into prepared bowl.

In the same pan, add another 1 tsp of oil and stir fry the carrots. Cook till soft but still retaining a little bite. Judge lah, I can't tell you how long. Remove from pan and into the same bowl above.

In the same pan still, add 1 tsp of oil and stir fry the beans. You need a little water to get the beans going. Season with salt and pepper and let the water evaporate entirely before removing from pan and into bowl above.

In the same pan, add 1tsp of oil and stir fry the leeks. When softened, add in pork and prawn (if using) and stir till cooked. Add in the taukwa and omelette strips, stir for a bit to warm the taukwa then add in 1 tbsp of the fried shallots (you can add more if you like). Remove and add to bowl above.

Mix all ingredients in the big bowl until well combined. You can return them to the pan if it's big enough. I normally cook popiah way in advance and warm a portion come eating time.

We eat them wrapped in springroll skin. I like TYJ brand, less prone to tearing.

I know my ingredients is missing the key vege, bangkuang/sengkuang. Do not attempt to substitute it with celeriac or turnip, they are not the same thing. You could argue its similar and die die must substitute with them but to me they just add an off putting taste (yeah I have tried to substitute with them). Its almost impossible to find bangkuang in UK or Oz, you might be lucky and know someone who plant them.

I know the singaporean eat theirs with crabmeat, beansprouts and crushed peanuts with a smear of sweet sauce on the springroll skin.

I can identify with the sweet sauce and crushed peanuts but crabmeat (perhaps its a rich people thing which I'll never understand/know of course) and raw beansprouts??


And the King's family/relatives wonder why he doesn't get all excited with the mention of 'I/We cooked popiah, do drop by and get your fix' in a swelling-with-pride tone whenever we go home and met these hot-blood and kind family members and relatives.

Oi, kam un lah. We really appreciate it and grateful to them. It was a kind and generous gesture *sob*cry*howl* (er maybe not the last).

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