June 23, 2011

Remembering the Spring Roll Wrappers Man of Sibu........

I have this longing for popiah skin and spring rolls....for when I was young my mother would always send me out to buy popiah skins on festival days and I would always be on the look out for the man who made the popiah skin at the corner lot on High Street of Sibu in front of Tai Sing.....There were two or three others who made the skin in Sibu but this man made them on the spot....and he had a very special customer attitude.

I think most people would also appreciate this. When we were children...to have mum making popiah was a real treat...and if we could get our hands on making them...we could roll for ourselves some wonderful goodies. Spring rolls were made only four times a year during the important festivals for most people who celebrated the festivals. In those days almost every one celebrated Chinese festivals in a small way. Sometimes those were the only days when we had a good meal or meat on the table.

However making of spring rolls also taught us that we should not be greedy or else our popiah would burst in its skin. Hence learning to roll or wrap spring roll was actually a good training ground for meticulous kitchen skills and food handling. Besides nice looking spring rolls which were also dainty as well delighted the eyes and heart. Mum used to say that small and neat spring rolls say a lot about our character.

And many many years later one of the best gatherings I ever had with my own colleagues in Sibu was our special popiah party. That was really a good idea for good friends to gather together for R and R. Gone are those days ..and we might never come together again because one of them just passed away two weeks ago.....If we had digital cameras or phone cameras then we could have some great photos to remember the occasion.

I am now staying in a town where no one makes fresh popiah skin at a corner lot. We don't have a man who has stories to tell his customers. We have lost this special human touch - a man who makes popiah skin with love for his community......thanks to this blogger I have this photo of her home made popiah skin and because of this social network I may just go an make some myself. Thank you!!




She even gives us her recipe so generously.....


800 g All-Purpose Flour, sifted
1 ½ tsp Sea Salt
800 ml Water

Method

Combine all the ingredients in a stand mixer bowl. Stir the batter with a wooden spatula, wrap with a cling film and let it rest for at least 3 hours.

Beat the batter for about 15 minutes, or until the batter is smooth and elastic.

Place the griddle or a flat cast-iron pan on a medium heat. Once the pan is hot, lower the heat slightly. Using one hand, coat the batter and rub onto the pan. Then use the other hand to peel off the wrapper when it is cooked.

Makes about 50 pieces (7 to 8”)even gives us her recipe generously -

Any way...with the world getting smaller we need not actually make our own spring roll skin for we can buy them in the supermarket.....But we still have to do a lot of preparation for the filling..and perhaps that is where the fun is. The conversation we can have when we slice and chop...when we pound and laugh.....etc...

This photo is contributed by my friend Judy who went to Vietnam recently....Thanks Judy....



Remember when some one wraps a spring roll for you...it is an act of love.....

It is nice to describe Sibu popiah as "Spring love all wrapped up for you......"in freshly made skins.

And when the opportunity comes we should all attempt to make an effort to show our love....for the next generation and the next generation .......

4 comments:

sintaicharles said...

I hope the art of making spring roll wrappers will not fall into abeyance.

I tried to make the wrappers once. Of course I did not know how to swing the soft, wet dough about with my hand and swipe it on a hot pan to leave a paper-thin film of dough. I opted for a much easier way, I took a small portion of dough and rubbed it cautiously on a non-stick pan(I made it very runny). The wrappers were not as good as those in the market but their thinness was passable.

I have deep respect for any spring roll wrappers sellers. Their skill is a true art in motion.

Thanks for the recipe.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Charles...we must support this ancient art of making spring roll wrappers...we must not allow machine to take over....The wrappers sold in the super markets are so full of preservatives...Have you seen how they become hard like cement?

Ann said...

Have I told you? We never had popiah skin from this man at High Street, my parents always park opposite him at my Aunt Ngui's shop. We only salivate. Mum said we were too poor to eat this rich man's food. I mentally learn how he made them.

Sometimes I buy frozen ones.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann...
Oh dear dear...I did not realise that's rich man's food ...We only had the spring roll when my mother wanted to make them for some festivals..so it was really treat..truly..once every few years. May be it was too many people to make for and too much work...
Now it is still expensive at 3 ringgit each!! So we normally share ...slice into five...Cheaper to make our own with lots of jicama and bean curd.