Burmese popiah (fresh spring rolls)

Burmese popiah (fresh spring rolls)

My mum used to make this basic popiah quite often because it was one of my dad’s favourite dishes. The irony was that although he loved this dish the most, he was also the worst at wrapping. He preferred eating the filling with a spoon and simply biting off the wrapper. This, my friends, is not how you eat popiah! I used to delight in being able to wrap my popiah rolls neatly and it was a very wholesome and filling meal with lots of fresh vegetables.

This is a basic Burmese popiah served with a chilli sauce. It was only much later that I found out that there were other varieties. I remembered the confused look on my Malaysian friends’ faces when they didn’t find the hoisin sauce or other filling ingredients like eggs, bean sprouts, peanuts, water chestnuts, green beans, etc. By comparison, the Burmese popiah is much more basic.

You can make a vegetarian version by omitting the pork and prawn and replacing with more tofu.

Serves 6 or 20 rolls (390 calories per serve)

Prep time 30-45 mins (much faster if using a food processor!)
Cook time 20 mins

1 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
500g minced pork (or 50/50 with minced prawns)
200g firm tofu, chopped finely
1 small/medium jicama (yam bean), shredded
1/4 cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, shredded
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
Dash of white pepper
Handful of celery leaves, chopped
20 sheets spring roll wrapper
1 Chinese lettuce head

Chilli sauce
2 tbsp sriracha chilli sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp water
pinch of salt and sugar

In a large pan, heat up the olive oil and sautee the garlic until it starts to sizzle and become fragrant.

Add the minced pork and tofu and brown all over.

Add the tofu, jicama, cabbage and carrots and cook for approximately 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly to cook evenly and all the juices have been released. Cook for a few more minutes or until some of the juices have evaporated so it’s not too wet a filling.

Season with salt, sugar and white pepper and stir in the celery leaves and set aside to cool slightly.

Prepare the chilli sauce by combining the sriracha sauce, garlic clove, water, salt and sugar.

To serve, place a spring roll wrapper on a plate. Place one leaf of lettuce at around the bottom third of the wrapper. Spoon over some filling on to the lettuce leaf and drizzle with some chilli sauce. Starting from the bottom, roll the wrapper over the filling up to the top third. Fold the sides in and continue to complete the wrap but rolling it upwards.

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