Saturday, April 4, 2009

Lina's Popiah, SS3, Petaling Jaya

Popiah is a dish Chinese in origin but one that has been adapted for local tastes to become one of the favourite street foods of South East Asia, where it also goes under the other monikers lumpia (Indonesia), lumpiang (Philippines), as well as Vietnam's famous goi cuon or rice paper rolls.

It's a relatively simple dish, and can be assembled in barely a minute, yet there's a lot of work that goes into the preparation. I managed to catch a master in action at this food court on Jalan SS3/64 in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

It starts with a thin pancake, usually of wheat flour. Two sauces are spread on top, a fiery chili sauce and a sweet/sour/salty dark-coloured brew which the vendor keeps simmering on the stove.

A variety of fillings are added, including tauge (bean sprouts), shredded cucumber, chopped fried tofu, and grated cooked turnip.

Then comes the assembly stage, done in a flash. Fans of Mexican food will notice similarities to burritos.

Voila. Delicious, fresh, and spicy as the devil.

The preserved plum juice I chose to wash it down with was definitely the wrong choice; its slightly salty tanginess just seemed to accentuate the chili kick of the popiah. An acquired taste, preserved plum, and one I think I may never acquire.

Will definitely go back for the popiah though. It was perhaps the healthiest thing I've eaten during my whole stay in Malaysia.

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