• Time to book in a popiah party (Camellia Aebischer)Source: Camellia Aebischer
These soft, thin wheat wraps stuffed with savoury meat and veg are like a spring roll and a stir-fry had a beautiful baby.
Camellia Ling Aebischer

20 Oct 2021 - 4:08 PM  UPDATED 21 Oct 2021 - 10:00 AM

A long long time ago in Fujian, China, someone made the first iteration of a spring roll. A thin wheat flour wrapper stuffed with fresh vegetables and savoury-spicy sauce, or something along those lines.

Fast forward today and you can find spring rolls almost anywhere in the world, they can be fresh, fried or frozen and oven-baked, ready for a dunk in sweet chilli sauce.

It's popiah's turn in the spring roll spotlight
One bite and you’ll wonder where this fresh spring roll has been all your life.

China’s original spring roll is called run bing or popiah and the spectacle of watching it being made is almost as enjoyable as eating one.

If the video above terrifies you, don’t worry, you don’t need to be wobbling wet dough over a hot pan to make your own. A thin batter can be painted onto the pan in a simple workaround and the resulting dough is just as soft and springy.

Fill your rolls with whatever you like, just make sure you don’t over-stuff them as they are delicate and are prone to rips.

How to make popiah

Makes 10-12

To make the dough create a batter using:

  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ tsp salt

Whisk until smooth and set aside to rest while you make your filling. In a medium-sized pan saute:

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • ¼ head wombok, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup firm tofu, or protein of choice, sliced
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce

Cook until vegetables are just wilted but still have bite, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool. Once cool, mix through:

  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced
  • handful coriander, chopped

Meanwhile, place a large non-stick frypan over low-medium heat and pre-heat for a few minutes.

Take your popiah batter and using a pastry brush paint a thin layer of batter directly onto the pan. You don’t need to add any oil. The batter will set and become slightly translucent, and the edges will start to lift away from the pan. Once it’s set all the way through, peel your wrapper off and place it on a clean plate, pan-side down (sticky side up).

Repeat until all the batter is used up.

When you’re ready to eat, lay down a wrapper sticky-side up, then place about ¼ cup of filling in the centre and add a drizzle of sriracha or sambal. Fold one edge over, fold in the sides then roll up to seal – just like rolling a burrito.

I like to use pre-seasoned garlic flavoured tofu for these.

Love the story? Follow the author here: Instagram @cammienoodle

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