Chinese poh piah or Chinese fresh spring roll is commonly popular eaten as snack or as a starter for lunch or dinner. It is a non-fried vegetable spring roll made with special white spring roll skin filled with shredded vegetables
The Chinese fresh spring roll – commonly called poh piah in Penang – is stuffed with a medley of shredded vegetables and sometimes a sweet clear vegetable broth is ladled over it when serving. Think of it as a Chinese version of the Western salad perhaps although the vegetables are not raw.
This particular dish, though not exactly a Penang creation, is believed to have originated from the Fujian province in China and is now available not only in Malaysia but also in Singapore, Medan and Taiwan.
Far from the Fujian province, the poh piah in Penang has a taste and flavour of its own that reflects the intermingling of local cultures here.
The preparation of fresh poh piah is pretty simple as the filling is made usually made up of shredded jicama, diced French beans, diced bean curd, diced omelette, diced shrimps and fresh lettuce.
The shredded jicama and diced French beans are usually cooked together and simmered in their own juices while the bean curd, shrimp and eggs are fried separately.
Once the ingredients are ready, the poh piah is ready to be assembled by first placing the cooked vegetables on the poh piah skin and garnishing with the diced bean curd, shrimp, omelette and shallots.
The skin is also given a dash of sweet sauce and chilli paste, if you prefer to add some spice to it, before a fresh lettuce leaf tops all the ingredients and it is all gathered togather and rolled up.
The poh piah is usually cut into bite-size pieces before it is served and if you like it extra soft and juicy, the hawker will ladle over the vegetable broth made when cooking the jicama and French beans.
There are variants to this as some hawkers may add shredded crab meat for an extra flavour.
The main secret to a delicious poh piah is in the assembling of the ingredients as it has to have a balance of the vegetables, shrimps, shallots, bean curd, omelette, lettuce and sauces to deliver a sweet, slightly spicy, juicy mouthful bursting in fresh flavours that is not too soggy or too plain.
There is another version of alike poh piah which is deep friend and it’s called the chun piah.
The ingredients for both variants are almost similar except for the different poh piah skin used.
The poh piah skin is a thin crepe-like wrapper made from rice flour and comes in different thicknesses for different purposes.
For the non-fried fresh poh piah, a very thin poh piah skin is used to wrap the flavourful concoction of vegetables.
There are even Malay and Indian muslim-style fresh poh piah available with some variation to the ingredients and even different Chinese poh piah stalls serve up their own style of poh piahs. These are delicious and light snacks that we enjoyed and ate frequently.
Try out some of the fresh poh piah stalls in George Town,
New Lane hawker centre, Jalan Baru (6pm—11pm)
New World park hawker centre, Jalan Burma (11am-5pm)
Kek Seng coffee shop @ Penang Road (12pm- 3pm)
Loh Eng Hoo coffee shop @ Lorong Selamat (12pm-5pm)