Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Grave Sweeping Day: Taiwanese Popiah

It was Qing Ming yesterday. Qing Ming Festival is also known as Grave/Tomb Sweeping Day, the day when the Chinese visits tombs of their ancestors not only to pay their tribute but to sweep and weed graves. This act of tidying up grave sites of ancestors and deceased family members is what we called sao mu ie. sweeping the graves. It falls 4th of April of the normal calendar(?), and not the lunar calendar although it used to be.

Run Bing - Taiwanese Popiah
♥ Taiwanese Popiah
I am in fact not entirely sure about what is the food culture of Grave Sweeping Day as we children were not allowed to visit the graveyards at home. It's probably just a culture of my family, given that we had to wake up as early as 5am in the morning and that the family is rather superstitious when it comes to this sort of matter. They thought children not appropriate to be presented on such a sacred site.

I am sorry I couldn't give you a detail of what the Cantonese enjoy on such occasion. I am, however, a little familiar with what the Taiwanese eat on the day: a cousin of Singaporean popiah called run bing 潤餅.

The following are just photos of my version of Taiwanese Popiah. Not much elaboration this time. I will just let the photos do the talking in the mean time.

♥ tabeshimashita @ pinkcocoa's kitchen on 05 Apr 2005
Taiwanese Popiah Dinner
♥ Taiwanese Popiah Dinner for Qing Ming
Taiwanese Popiah (assorted fillings rolled up in a paper thin flour skin) is different to the one in South East Asia in that, you get to pick the fillings you like and roll the popiah yourself as opposed to having a large pot of ready-mixed fillings and spoon & roll yourself. I understand that The South East Asian popiah also have condiments on the side that you can add.

Generally, Taiwanese popiah includes fillings like shredded carrots, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, strips of eggs, braised beancurd strips, shredded meat, beansprouts and the most important condiment would be the peanut powder!

And of course, we shall not forget about the popiah skin. I am not sure if we could get fresh popiah skin here in Sydney. Does anyone know? Any idea? Anyhow, we are not able to get fresh popiah skin in Brunei too so the best replacement would be frozen spring rolls sheet. I wasn't able to buy a pack of large spring roll sheets so we had to be contented with the smaller size. This just means more spring roll but we couldn't pile up the fillings as high we would love to.

Assorted Fillings for Taiwanese Popiah
♥ Assorted Fillings for Taiwanese Popiah
Clockwise from top:
- strips of egg
- thinly sliced mushroom braised in a mixture of soy sauce, rice wine and sugar
- crunchy preserved radish (caipoh)
- stirfry of thin strips of carrots and onions
- chinese lapcheong (Cantonese preserved/waxed sausage)*
- strips of cucumber

*In Taiwan, you would use Taiwanese sausage and not lapcheong!

Vegetables Filling for Taiwanese Popiah
♥ Vegetables Filling for Taiwanese Popiah
From top:
- stirfry shredded savoy cabbage
- five-spice beancurd strips
- branched beansprouts

*what's missing here is bamboo shoots! Forgot to grab a can of it at the supermarket >.< First layer of peanut powder
♥ First layer of peanut powder
So first, grab a popih skin and lay a teaspoon of peanut powder (ground peanuts mixed with caster sugar) onto the skin. Make sure you keep the rest of the popiah skin moist by covering it with a damp teatowel else the skin would dry out.

Second layer of vegetables
♥ Second layer of vegetables
Basically, the next step is grab whatever you like and lay it on top of the peanut powder. We started by laying some vegetables first.

Third layer of meat and other condiments
♥ Third layer of meat and other condiments
Then we moved onto the assorted condiments. We love caipoh in popiah because it not gives a nice salty flavour but also adds crunch to the bite. Be sure you don't ladle the skin with too much filling or you will have problem in folding the roll up.

Fold a corner of Popiah Skin
♥ Fold a corner of Popiah Skin
Now comes the time to roll it up. So first grab the bottom corner of the popiah skin and fold it over so that it covers the fillings.

Oh, I forgot to mention popiah skin is traditionally round and not square like the one I had there. So if you managed to grab some fresh popiah skin, it doesn't really matter when you start folding.

Rolling and folding Popiah
♥ Rolling and folding Popiah
Fold the 2 ends to the centre, making sure you tuck all the fillings under the folded skin. As you can see here, I have over-ladled my popiah with too much fillings! I am such a greedy pig. And yes, I had a bit of problem folding it over. Don't repeat the same mistake I made, people!

Taiwanese Popiah Done
♥ Enjoy your personalised popiah
The final step is just to roll your popiah over.

ta daa~ Enjoy your own personalised popiah ;-)

I personally love the caipoh, peanut powder and the sweet mushroom. ShinChan seems to like it all but his favourite would be the caipoh, peanut powder and lapcheong. Too bad we didn't have any bamboo shoots else it would be even better.