Learn how to make my family's traditional spring roll

Updated: Apr 18, 2021

During Chinese New Year, it is a tradition for my mother to make fresh spring rolls. She makes this once a year. A popular snack among our family, relatives, friends and neighbours who visit her on a Chinese New Year day.

She carefully makes her special treat by individually wrapping one spring roll at a time so it is fresh. Each of us waits in anticipation for her fresh spring roll. The elders in our family, relatives and distinguished guests will get to eat first!

Unfortunately, this year 2021 - Year of the Metal Ox - no relatives and friends were allowed to visit her because of covid-19 pandemic movement restrictions in Malaysia, except her children and grandchildren who live within 10 km. As for me, I could only video-chat with her and my family due to Australia international travel restriction. It has been over a year since I last visited my mother and family in Penang.

Missing her homemade fresh spring roll, we call it "popiah" in my colloquial Penang Chinese Hokkien, I learnt how to make for the first time in Australia. There are 3 techniques involved in making my mother's popiah.

The first technique is making the popiah filling. It involves cutting some "bankuang" (which is jicama), carrot, string beans, and frying some tofu, pork and prawns, and finally cooking in a pot for hours.

The second technique is making the popiah skin, we call it "popiah puih", or fresh spring roll wrapper. It involves mixing plain flour (also known as "all-purpose flour" in America), salt and water to make a sticky, gluey, elastic dough, and rubbing a thin layer on a low heat pan to make popiah skin. In Penang, popiah puih is available fresh daily at a wet market or from the shop. We can't get it fresh in Australia, so I had to make my own.

The third technique is making the popiah. It involves spreading some sweet bean sauce and chilli sauce on top of a popiah puih, placing a lettuce leaf, and a tablespoon of popiah filling. Add some fried shallots for crunchiness, and folding the wrapper.

If you are like to know how I made my mother's traditional popiah, I have a video link to the images below. Click on the image to watch the video, or go to my YouTube Channel, "Foodtrail with Victor Khoo" to watch more of my recipes.

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