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"Hand"-made Popiah Skin (Spring Roll Wrap) at Chowrasta Morning Market

Between two quiet shophouses on Chowrasta Road, at No. 5, Uncle Lim paces back and forth in a rhythmic motion between two hotplates with a wheat-flour dough "glove" on his right hand.  He whips the elastic dough ball like a yo-yo, slams it down on a hotplate and yanks it off, leaving a very thin pancake.  Before it burns, his helper scraps off the popiah skin (spring roll wrapper) and stacks it on top of the pile.

"Your hands must be used to the heat?" I ask him, assuming 50 years of making popiah over a scalding hotplate would have calloused his hands and numbed his nerves.

"It still burns," he laughs.

He's been at it for 50 years...if he made about a hundred popiah wrappers an hour, five hours a day, six days a week, for 50 years, that's 7,800,000 popiah wrappers!  I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
If you visit Penang, you will see popiah stalls all over the island.  The standard popiah will usually be stuffed with turnip (bangkuang), bean sprouts, lettuce, prawns, shredded omelet, chopped peanuts, fried shallots, and tofu.  It will also come with a sweet or spicy sauce.  (Click here for my mom's popiah recipe)
Popiah from New World Park in George Town
After strolling through the Chowrasta morning market, head over to No. 5 Chowrasta Road to watch Uncle Lim and his yo-yo dough glove in action.  He's a jovial old man, perfect for practicing your Hokkien with!
Outside of No. 5 Chowrasta Road - Uncle Lim's Shophouse


stephen said...

I remember this gentleman!My dad took me to see him making poh piah skins when i was a boy.I was so impressed with his skills then.That was in the sixties i think.He still looks the same!
They still make poh piah skins the manual way in singapore too.They tend to be pricier than the machine made versions but they are touted to be better.Probably the sweat in the hand makes the difference??!!Hahasch

Reese said...

Hi Stephen,

I was thinking the same thing - "sweat in the hand". There's always that secret ingredient in Penang food.

Thanks for sharing, we love hearing Penang stories from back in the day.

Reese & Mark

Lissa said...

I remember him as well and that was like over 25 years ago.

Reese said...

I guess making popiah keeps you looking young!


Hong said...

I have used Uncle's Lim popiah skin before as it is really taste delicious ^^