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This is a common street or hawker food in Singapore, which is primarily vegetables. My mum would tell me how she used make the popiah skin or 薄饼皮 and sold them when she was only ten years old.

Seventy years ago, Singapore was freshly out of the Japanese Occupation and people were poor. Both my parents did not have opportunities to an education, and worked from young. My mum, being really entrepreneurial, was always selling things to make a living. She is the most entrepreneurial person I have ever known. She is more than just a sales person or hassler. She knew how to look at the problems people were facing and solved them. She created businesses out of solving problems.

I will be asking her how to make those skins one day when I get to see her, and when she is up to it. Meanwhile, she has told me she has stopped buying fresh popiah skins these days, as the packet ones are really good. So until I master the skills of twirling dough in the air and that elastic dough on the pan, I shall use those.

In most of our homes, the various elements are put on the table and we make our own popiah when we want to eat them.  That’s what my mum and mother-in-law still do, and that’s what I do.

You can choose to make these vegan or vegetarian. They won’t taste much inferior.

Popiah

Popiah

Ingredients

20 Popiah Skin

Main Element

1 Bangkwang or Jicama root (julienne into matchstick size)

2 medium Carrots (julienne into matchstick size)

1 head Cabbage (cut thin slices)

1 packet Beans (julienne into matchstick size)

250g Pork spare ribs, cut into strips

250g Shrimp meat

4 cloves Garlic, minced

1 tsp Bullion

1 Tbsp Cooking oil

Blanched Elements

2 cups of water

2 handfuls Bean sprouts (Taugay)

10 large Prawns, shelled

Fresh elements

2 Red chilies, sliced and pounded

4 cloves Garlic, finely pounded

A few sprigs Coriander

10 leaves Iceberg lettuce cut to roughly 10cm x 5cm

1 Cucumber, cut into matchstick size

Omelette

2 eggs

Condiments

4 Tbsp Kechap manis

100g Peanuts, roasted and roughly grounded

Method

    Main Component
  1. Heat up a wok with the vegetable oil, fry the minced garlic until fragrant.
  2. Add pork and stir until no longer pink and then add all the vegetables.
  3. Stir until the veggies soften, add shrimp meat.
  4. Add bullion, salt and pepper.
  5. Cook with a low fire if you feel that the veggies is starting to burn or dry out, do not add water.
  6. Blanched elements
  7. Boil the water in a saucepan.
  8. Add the prawns and remove when prawns turn pink.
  9. Blanch the bean sprouts.
  10. Omelette
  11. Make a crepe out of the eggs and cut it into strips.
  12. Serving
  13. Place every item on its own plate.
  14. Cover the popiah skin with a wet tea towel.
  15. Take a piece of popiah, and line it with the lettuce.
  16. Add the items in this order: kechap manis, garlic, chili, main component, bean sprout, cucumber, prawns, ground peanuts.
  17. Wrap.
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