The hawker centers are famous for their wide variety of Singapore food, as these food courts can house as little as a dozen vendors to well over 200 as is the case of the Smith Street hawker center- making them one of the best Singapore attractions to visit in the entire country. Sampling all of the foods available is impossible, but there were two that we went back and had multiple times during a week in Singapore – Popiah and Keuh Pie Tee. Their names are unfamiliar to most outside of this region of the world, but they will soon become a staple in my cooking repertoire as we are thinking of using them especially in our selection of unconventional Christmas appetizer recipes.
Popiah – The Fresh Spring Roll
Spring rolls come in many forms; however, the most common thought is through the use of rice paper or wonton wrappers and served fried. The Popiah variant is a fresh spring roll that could almost be mistaken as a mini-sandwich wrap made of wheat flower, with spring roll filling.
The filling varies from location to location, but is often either thinly sliced and fried jicama or radish, bean sprouts, grated carrots, lettuce, pork/shrimp/crab meat, and fried spring onions. Before wrapping a sweet sauce is added and often topped with a spicy sauce such as sambal or other local variety.
The flavors in this dish are addicting as it adds a hint of familiarity in the wrapper style with complete Asian ingredients. Although these spring rolls are served rather small, 4 or 5 inches long and an inch or two wide, they are so delicious that I envision them being enlarged to full burrito size, just because the filling is so good. Recreating this one will be a tasty experience for sure.
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Keuh Pie Tee – The Inverted Spring Roll?
Keuh Pie Tee is a variant on the spring roll that is served in Singapore and is made with quite similar ingredients. A mixture of fried onions, bean sprouts, radish, and local meats are combined together to make the filling and mixed with an acidic sauce with chili mixed in. Rather than being a filling for a wheat based shell, the filling is piled high in mini fried cups and served in sets of 6 to 10 per serving. These cups are then topped with ground peanuts, although is something we passed on due to allergies.
The variant of Keuh Pie Tee is not much different than Popiah, however the fried cup is a perfect vessel for bringing the delicious fillings to your mouth. Since both of these items only cost a few dollars at a hawker center, you may begin to understand why I would order both at every possible chance.
Recreating these dishes will be quite a delicious challenge, and we’ve already identified a few recipes not only to make the fillings for both of these treats, but the shells as well! A new Christmas tradition is about to be born!
Looking for a great hostel during your visit to Singapore? Check out Rucksack Inn where we stayed! After you’ve finished eating, be sure to head to the Singapore Botanic Gardens to walk off your meal!