I’m a big fan of popiah, and I’ll even admit that when there was a good popiah stall near my work, I would often have it for dinner several nights a week. Sadly that stall closed down, but I still often eat popiah when I find a good stall, or my wife and I will share one popiah as a side dish to our main dishes at some of our local foodcourts.
Popiah means “thin wafer” and this refers to the thin, crepe-like skin which is spread with a sweet sauce and chili and is wrapped around the delicious filling. The filling is mainly made up finely grated turnip, which has been cooked with other ingredients such as bean sprouts, french beans and lettuce leaves and sometimes grated carrots. Often hard-boiled egg or sliced omelette is added to this filling, as well as finely chopped peanut before the whole thing is rolled up tight like a fresh spring roll, and then sliced before serving.
The same or a very similar filling to that used in popiah is also used in Kueh Pie Tee, a small crispy pastry cup which is then stuffed with filling. As such, it is common for popiah stalls to also sell kueh pie tee.
Two freshly made popiah rolls packaged to take-away (da bao).
Popiah is of Fujian/Teochew origins and so it is commonly eaten in those areas of China, as well as in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. It is quite common in Singapore for people to have Popiah Parties, in which all the popiah ingredients are provided and guests are able to make their own popiah if they like.
While popiah perhaps isn’t as common as some of the other foods I have mentioned, there are still many stalls that sell popiah. And for as little as $1.50 per roll I definitely recommend you give this sweet, tasty delicacy a try.