Cooking with… Jun of Indochine Kitchen

Ah, Singapore’s world-famous hawker centers. While they are best known for a diverse range of food at affordable prices, they are a minefield for vegetarians. I’ve learned that there is always lard or chicken stock or dried shrimp lurking somewhere. So, I’m always searching for vegetarian versions of hawker center classics to reproduce in my own kitchen.*

Today, I’m so thrilled to reprint Indochine Kitchen‘s recipe for vegetarian popiah (spring rolls). Food blogger Jun lives in a small city in North Sumatra in Indonesia. “When I am not fretting about what to cook and which recipes to make or calling my mother about what we should on make the coming weekend, I work full time at our family business,” she says.

Over to Jun…

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Fancy some spring rolls without the pork and lard? I made some vegetarian popiah using fresh popiah skin. Popiah usually contains both pork belly and deep-fried lard. In my version, I used ground peanuts and worked perfectly. The rich flavor of carrots, jicama, tofu, and beansprouts are already delicious enough!

Vegetarian Popiah
Makes 40 spring rolls

For filling 1 (jicama and carrot):
1/4 cup cooking oil
250 grams french bean, sliced diagonally (0.25cm width)
4 (250 grams) carrots, grated on the largest setting
1 (600 grams) jicama, grated on the largest setting
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup hot water

For filling 2 (bean sprouts and bean curd):
1/4 cup cooking oil
300 grams tofu, cubed (0.5cm)
250 grams beansprouts
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)

For Skin
1 kilogram (40 sheets) popiah wrappers, about 20cm in diameter

Hoisin sauce
Chili sauce
100 grams peanuts, deep-fried and ground
2 eggs, beaten, fried and cut finely (same size as carrots, jicama, and french beans)
Cucumber, seeded and cut into stripes
Coriander leaves (cilantro)

To prepare fillings:

To prepare carrot and jicama: Wash grated jicama and carrot under running water for one minute. Drain well on kitchen towel. This will remove excess starch that will make the dish sticky and soggy after cooking. Heat oil in the wok and add french beans, carrots, and jicama. Cook quickly for 3 minutes. Season with salt, sugar, and pepper. Add hot water to rehydrate the vegetables. Reduce heat to low and cover. Leave to simmer for a few more minutes. Remove from heat.

To prepare tofu and beansprouts: Heat cooking oil in a wok, Toss in tofu cubes and cook over high heat, turning slowly using a spatula, until brown at all sides. Add beansprouts, salt, and sugar, and mix well. Reduce heat and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to cool.

To prepare popiah spring rolls:

Place a wrapper on a clean surface. Arrange a piece of lettuce on the lower part of the wrapper and spread a half teaspoon hoisin sauce and chili sauce on the lettuce.

Put one tablespoon each of carrot filling and tofu filling on top of lettuce. Try to only put filling without any liquid; use a small colander-shaped spoon if possible. (Excess liquid will soak into the wrapper and make the roll soggy and difficult to handle.) Add a couple of sticks of cucumbers. Arrange eggs on top of everything. Generously sprinkle ground peanuts on top and garnish with coriander leaves.

Fold the lower part of the wrapper to fully covering the fillings. Fold in both sides in. Try to fold tightly but be careful not to stretch the wrapper too much. Roll the whole filling to the end of the wrapper. Place rolls on serving plate with the end of the wrapper facing down.

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* Vegetarian char kway teow anyone?

I welcome recipes from Singapore and beyond for Cooking with…. Priority is given to original recipes that have not yet appeared online. Please indicate if your recipe has already appeared online or has been submitted elsewhere. Please email all recipes, including high-quality .jpgs, to me with the subject line ‘Recipes.’

(Additional credits: Photograph by Jun of Indochine Kitchen; geometric watercolor pattern via August Empress.)

6 responses

  1. I’m looking forward to more of these Cooking With… posts! As I am vegan, I am always looking forward to make vegan versions of local hawker delights. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Didn’t realize you were vegan ! I tend to tell foreign visitors that their best bet for vegetarian chow hereabouts is an Indian joint – aside from the odd Buddhist-inspired hawker stall of course – but I guess you could teach me a thing or two about local Indian food …