The Poh Piah Parties On!

6 Dec 2021

Holding my homecooked “poh piah” aka spring roll or Chinese burrito after 40 plus years.

“Poh Piah”, is a wrap filled with julienned vegetables. This Chinese burrito is usually served only on special occasions because of the labour intensive prep work behind it.

Every family has its own secret spring roll recipe reflecting its ancestral lineage, dialect and most of all, the matriarch’s personality.

Once a Filipino student described the ingredients in her mom’s “poh piah” which led me to ask if her forefathers were from Kinmen Island. She checked with her people and they confirmed it.

Last year, before social distancing rules got complicated, I had the fortune to be at a “poh piah party” hosted by a friend’s mom. Hers was peranakan style, complete with kueh pei ti. My friend’s dad personally drove to Joo Jiat to pick up handmade poh piah skin/wrap and pei ti cups to hold the precious & time sensitive ingredients.

Poh Piah, a love story.

Looking at the elaborate spread of ingredients and utensils, you realise this is not simply about eating, but it’s also about being part of a love story enfolding right at the table.

Last month at Souperstar, I found the humble spring roll repackaged and marketed as food-on-the-go.

Souperstar gives the traditional spring roll (poh piah) a trendy twist with its colourful wrapper.

I ordered the traditional one out of nostalgia, and made a mental note NOT TO COMPARE it with the ones made by my friend’s mom or my kinmen grandma.

I took a bite and felt vry satisfied as the familiar mix of minced garlic, sambal chilli, & sweet sauce on shredded turnip and assorted condiments danced in my mouth.

When I complimented the service staff for their delicious vegetable wrap, she declared with pride,” 我们的薄饼料是手切的!” (transl: our ingredients are hand cut).

The honour of being part of something made by hand as opposed to machine made was evident in her voice & smile.

With meal gatherings near impossible these days, my heart fills with gratitude each time I look at these pictures.

My friend’s dad drove to Joo Jiat Rd to pick up handmade poh piah wraps/ skins for our party.

And now I’m ever thankful to Souperstar’s business acumen & creativity to ensure that the poh piah parties on, even if it’s just for one person dining. 🙏😄

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