The best meal that we had (so far) this Chinese New Year period was at the popiah party at a friend’s place. The secret of a good homemade popiah? Lots of juicy ingredients prepared with passion, some special ingredients and Kway Guan Huat Joo Chiat popiah skins which our hosts insist on using year after year; even though they live on the other side of Singapore, in the West.
Kway Guan Huat in Joo Chiat
Kway Guan Huat Joo Chiat popiah skins can be purchased from their shop in Joo Chiat. They are popular all year round and especially so during Chinese New Year. We can understand why as folding and eating popiah has a communal and festive feel about it. The ingredients look so attractive on the table and I am sure many of them may have auspicious implications.
To cater to this demand Kway Guan Huat sells their famous Joo Chiat popiah skins throughout the CNY period, including the first and second day of CNY. Many popiah afficionados including our hosts insist on freshly made popiah skins. The frozen or chilled ones will simply not do.
The Kway Guan Huat Joo Chiat Popiah Skins are priced at $20 per kg during normal times. Over the Chinese New Year period, the price went up to $30/kg. There was a queue but they are quite organised and turnover was fast. In addition to popiah skins, Kway Guan Huat also sells the other components that go into the making of popiah like the fillings, sauces etc. By the way, we are told that the sweet sauce is the other essential popiah component that one must get from KGH. Using normal sweet sauce just does not taste the same. Other food items are also available such as kueh pie tee and prawn rollls (ngoh hiang).
Our CNY Popiah Feast
Other than the popiah skins and sweet sauce bought from Kway Guan Huat, all the other ingredients were prepared at home. The popiah skins felt thicker than usual this year, but I did not mind that as it meant that torn skins did not happen this year. The skins were separated and neatly folded into individual triangles on arrival; which was a good idea as that prevented the many guests from using their grimy hands to separate the sheets each time.
The entire spread looked great especially the lush pot of green vegetables. To me the magic ingredients that made a big difference were the plump juicy prawns, the homemade chilli paste, chunky lard cubes, strips of dried fish (“tee poh” in Teochew) and the leek (an auspicious vegetable).
The making of popiah
Here are pictures showing my popiah making prowess and a few of my finished products (don’t laugh). I must say that they look better than in previous years, because the popiah skins were thicker this year.
As if the endless supply of popiah was not enough, we were treated to some exquisite bowls of prawn mee. Topped with a large prawn, pork rib and chunks of lobster meat. That was probably the most luxurious prawn mee I had tried. The drinks for this occasion were some Italian Chianti Classico and Perrier-Jouët champagne.
The Ordinary Patrons | Real Dining Experience of Ordinary People
an independent Singapore food blog