Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fresh Homemade Popiah Skin

Although Spring is gone and Summer is around the corner, the amount of rain that we have been getting made me feel that  Spring has not gone.  Spring is nature's way of saying that it is time to Party and eating fresh. How appropriate it will be to have a Popiah Party.  Popiah is a very popular dish in Malaysia and it is a wrap filled with fresh ingredients of Spring.  Spring vegetables take quite an enormous part in this Popiah Play/Party but the wrap - Popiah Skin take the center stage.  Without the Popiah Skin, there is no play or party. 

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.

Repeat these 4 folds 3 or 4 more times, then leave the dough covered for 3 hours.

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


DesperateHousewife said...

Wow! This is an eye opener, I didn't know this possible.

Regina Chennault said...

Hi Lily,

I want to try it but don't know how many pieces of popiah skin does the recipe yield? and also how long it takes to make? Making it one at a time, I assume it will take a VERY long time...

I love popiah and always bought the skins from store, which is made in Philippine. But I found they are too thin and break easily after rolling up, and they dry fast and making the skin hard to roll.

Thanks for sharing the recipe with photos and tips!


Chris said...

This is incredible!! I have tried many times before, created such a mess. Thanks!!!!

kimberlycun said...

i've seen a local man in penang made it for selling, i didn't think it's even possible for someone at home to make it, YOU ARE BRILLIANT!

Angie said...

This is great Lily, thanks for sharing. You are amazing!!

shaz said...

Wow! Thank you for this Aunty Lily. I have been wondering how to make popiah skin for ages now. Hmm, I think maybe I'll stick to frozen, it looks tricky :P

MosesOng said...

Hi Lily,

The dough should't need to be chilled as they just leave the dough in the kitchen in Malaysia, double check in YouTube. I might have to look up my Asian Dumpling book as I believe there is a recipe for Lumpia wrapper.

As for griddle, have you consider the Lodge Logic 14" pizza pan? I think it should work well on gas range, and may be induction cook top if you want regulated heat. The pizza pan can be use for so many thing, like a roti chanai party!!!

lilyng said...

moses ong

thanks for the suggestions. I find that chilled dough is easier to handle.

Reese Darragh said...

Wow! I have attempted making fresh popiah skin at home before but it didn't work out for me. I am inspired to give it another try. Thanks for sharing the recipe, Aunt Lily!


siewgin_alan_tyler_cody said...

Believe it or not even i tried making popiah skin once. It was for my first AAWC popiah party!! What a pain! I finally made the batter thin enough that i had to use a brush to paint it on to be thin enough. The whole smearing thing didn't work too well on my non-stick pans! Duh!! After 3 sheets, i decided, i'm better off making pie-tee, which was also a pain, but doable!!! Lily, you truly are the best!

Butler said...

I love your blog site and always amazed by your ever willingness to attempt to try out difficult recipes. I hope that you will find the following link helpful in your attempt to succeed in making better popiah skin.

lilyng said...


thanks for the link

Mel said...

Hi Aunty Lily,

Just wondered if I can use a wok or a non stick frying pan? does it work?

lilyng said...


sny cooking utensils will be fine if you can get the correct temperature.

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