Malay Street Food Popia Basah Astaka Stadium Penang
Unlike the Chinese version of poh piah which has two types of sauces and loaded with cholesterol laden peeled crab meat; the Indian Muslim version is called Poh Piah Basah.
A simple dish, the basic ingredients are stewed julienned yam bean which is cooked with turmeric and flavoured with knotted pandan leaves (screw pines).
The topping is mashed cooked firm tofu, bits of boiled shrimps and a scattering of fried shallots.
Once rolled and cut into pieces, the seller will smear the poh piah with a sweet sauce and douse the dish with a scoop of stewed yam bean soup. Hence the name, poh piah basah.
Each roll cost RM1.00 which makes for a healthy vegetarian snack that is filling with zero fat content.
UNCLE MOHD. NOR
Mohd. Nor has been plying his poh piah basah dish for the past 30years.
He first started selling this delicacy in Sg. Pinang before moving to Taman Abidin. His current pit stop is at Astaka Stadium Bandaraya, a Malay hawker centre along Perak Road with the Penang City Stadium behind it.
Check out his stall which is opened in the afternoon from 2pm onwards until around 5pm in the evening.
WHAT IS POPIA
Popiah (also spelled “popia”) is a word derived from the Hokkien dialect which loosely translated means a thin pancake. Actually it more or an Asian burrito or a Vietnamese summer roll, except the skin or wrapper is of different texture and thickness.
Instead of a thick, doughy flour wrapper, the popia skin is thin, translucent crepe-like circular “skin”. This is made by slapping and smearing a ball of dough onto a hot griddle and letting it cook for a few seconds before removing it. The technique to get a uniformly thin skin is a skill that takes many months of practice.
Alternatively, I have used a non-stick pan and tried smearing thinner dough with a brush on when the pan is lifted from the stove for some quick results.
POPIA SKIN RECIPE
Here is a homemade recipe for Popiah Skin or the thin wrapper commonly used for Chinese Spring rolls.
And tapioca flour
Mix all the ingredients together until they make a lumpy batter; knead the batter by repeatedly lifting it up and slamming it back down into the bowl until it starts to hold together.
Most of the skins available nowadays in Singapore and Malaysia are machine-made. There are a few wet markets in Penang where fresh, hand-made popiah skins are made. These are excellent with just the right touch of saltiness. Good skin can hold together all the popiah fillings without bursting or leaking.
Time to try a Malaysian burrito next you’re in George Town.
Astaka Stadium Bandaraya
Perak Road, Penang
Business hours: 2.30pm to 5.00pm