I did try making the popiah skin before and created a mess and the result was offered to the Culinary God. I have not thought of making it again cos i have found the frozen store-bought Lumpia to be a very good substitute. Making popiah skin has not crossed my mind for the longest ever until one day, when i was visiting my friend, Peng, in Colorado Springs, i had a call from daughter, Sandra, that Lena was trying to contact me. She buzzed several times on Skype and it must be important. I logged on to Skype and got Lena. She told me that she was making popiah skin and it did not turn out so well. She wanted to brainstorm. I told her that i will try to make some for her sake despite of my fear of the mess that i will be creating. There will not be any discussions if you do not make it and share the experience, be it a failure or a success.
Ok, let's get down to beat up some batter/dough. The right consistency to make the dough would be with 100% hydration, that is why i don't know if i should refer it to be a batter or a dough. It should be tacky so that the popiah skin will be as thin as possible and it has to be elastic too, otherwise it will tear when wrapped with all the fillings. With 100% hydration, it will not be possible to knead, so, i just mixed it up and leave it to rest for 30 minutes, then come back and just fold the edges in. Rest and fold for 3 more times and then leave the dough for 3 hours or more. After the 3 hours rest, the dough was still not ready for smearing, it had to be beatened until very elastic. I used the paddle in the Kitchenaid and beat until the dough clinged on to the paddle and made a funny flapping sound. This dough will be shiny and elastic and you will be able to hold on to it in a ball. Keep this ball as cold as possible and it will hold it's shape better. So, when i am smearing, i will leave the batter/dough on a bowl, sitting on another bowl of ice water.
Not only had the dough to be right, the type of utensil used to make the skin was important too. A good frying pan which can maintain a low constant heat will be desirable. I felt that a frying pan with higher sides will be a hindrance, so i used my Cuisinart Griddle. Using this griddle was good as i could regulate the heat and there was no sides to hinder the smearing. I used the lowest of the heat available which is 200f and it was just great to get the batter/dough to stick. If the heat was any higher, the skin will not stick on to the griddle. Using this griddle worked and i managed to make some decent popiah skins, the downside of this griddle was that the heating element was not very even and the center of the popiah skin took longer to cook. I was impatient and tried to peel and since the center was not totally cooked, it got stucked and created a hole when i was peeling. As long as i took my time, i did make a huge pile of popiah skins.
400 gms all-purpose flour
400 gms water
1 tsp salt
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and leave aside covered for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, lift one edge of the dough, and fold in to the center. Make 3 more folds. Leave to rest for another 20 to 30 minutes.
After 3 hours, transfer to the Kitchenaid bowl (if you have started mixing the ingredients in this bowl then you save one bowl to wash). Using the paddle, beat the dough until it clings to the paddle and is shiny and elastic. You will know when it is ready when it makes a flapping sound. Leave this bowl over another bowl filled with iced water.
Heat the griddle to 200 f and pick up a big ball of dough, smear it onto the griddle, making a circle. Use a rubber spatula to smooth out the batter and to cover any holes. Leave to cook and when the edges start to curl and the center has turned opagued, it is time to peel. Peel and remove the skin. Leave it covered with a damped cloth.
Repeat, this process of making the skin and pile the skin onto the first cooked skin covered.
Skins are ready to make into POPIAH