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Poh Piah

April 14, 2010

Poh piah is a Malaysian dish, a little like a spring roll but not fried. The idea is that you wrap all sorts of goodies up in a thin crepe and dunk it in kecap manis. People use lettuce, minced pork, chinese sausage, egg, crab meat, prawns and sometimes turnip… I guess you can be as elaborate as you like. Personally, I don’t go in for elaborate poh piah. I love a very simplified version of poh piah, which I first discovered at the Central Markets in Adelaide where I used to live. This tiny little hole in the wall of a restaurant known as Malacca Corner would churn them out by the dozen. Any time I was passing by the markets I would buy a couple and stash them for later (helped by the fact they were only $2). Malacca C changed hands and their poh piah was never the same again. This is a recreation of Malacca’s original simplified poh piah,  based on a Charmaine Solomon recipe.

You’ll  need


  • 5 eggs
  • 375 ml cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup plain  flour


  • 3 tbsp peanut butter (crunchy is good)
  • chilli paste (as much heat as you like)
  • coconut milk – around 4 tbsp but you’ll have to go by feel


  • 4-5 big handfuls of bean sprouts
  • one large carrot, grated
  • tofu cut into strips and lightly friend (this is optional, Malacca didn’t use it. If you’re feeling carnivorous, you could use some pork although I personally like the simplicity of bean sprouts and carrot)
  • Kecap manis to serve

To cook

Before you do anything else, mix up the batter because it needs to rest for 20-30mins. Beat eggs and water together until well mixed but not frothy. Add salt, oil and flour and beat until smooth. Set aside and make the other ingredients

To make the sauce, mix the chilli and peanut butter together, gradually adding coconut milk until it’s a thin spreadable texture (perhaps like really soft butter). To make the filling, blanch the bean sprouts and grated carrot then drain well.

Last but not least, the tricky part of making the poh piah wrappers. I find a very small frying pan and a spatula to be the best equipment for the job.Lightly oil a frying pan with a piece of paper towel dipped in oil and rubbed over the heated pan. Pour in a small ladle of batter, swirl the pan quickly to make a very thin coating and pour any excess back into the container of batter. Cook over low heat until underside is cooked and pale golden. Turn and cook other side for a few seconds. Don’t let them brown! Pile one on top of the other on a flat plate as they are cooked.

To assemble, take a wrapper and spread it with a layer of the peanut butter sauce. Then add about 2 tablespoons of filling. Roll it up, tucking in the ends as you go (easier said than done, I’m a terrible roller!).

Serve with kecap manis.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Thea permalink
    April 16, 2010 2:58 am

    YAAAAAAY! I was thinking about these the other day, what a coincidence. I can’t remember why… was I eating something similar? I doubt it.
    I can’t wait to do these! Apart from the fact that I get a little nervous about crepes – but only because of a traumatic TAFE experience. At least this time there will not be a scary Swiss Chef looming. Your’s look masterful, by the way.
    What type of chilli paste do you use?
    Do you use the peanut butter with lots of salt sugar etc? Or really natural stuff?
    Oh I can just taste them now…

    • April 16, 2010 7:18 am

      I used a natural one but added some salt. I also used the chilli paste from the spicy pan mee noodle recipe, just cause I had it in the fridge. Have to say, worked a treat! Otherwise I’d go for a chilli oil/ chilli in oil type thing so you’re adding more than heat. Good luck! You’ll be fine :) oh and be generous with the peanut sauce!

  2. Thea permalink
    May 13, 2010 3:10 am

    Another question – no herbs? I dont remember…
    I’m going to make this very soon… but I’m going to do a substitution… I wonder how you’ll feel about this. I’ve been using “peabutter” (made from local Albertan brown peas) instead of imported peanut butter. It tastes pretty similar, and they add fat to get the texture. So I’ll use that and see what happens. It may be all wrong.

  3. May 13, 2010 9:11 am

    Nope, no herbs – at least the Malacca version doesn’t. Pea butter?? I can’t even imagine. Are you saying Canada doesn’t produce any of its own peanut butter? Not even natural ones? Crazy. Let me know how it goes :)

  4. Thea permalink
    May 14, 2010 5:02 am

    Peanuts don’t grow in canada. Among other things such as tropical fruits and olives! So I use what does grow. And peabutter, made from brown peas, does taste like peanutbutter if you squint! It certainly has the same texture.

  5. June 4, 2010 3:22 am

    Okay! I made it, finally!
    I had fun making the wrappers. I used duck eggs, so rich and creamy.
    I had also noticed that there is a recipe for poh pia in Charmaine Solomons “bible” of asian food, pretty much the asme as yours but more complex. As a result, I decided to made the following embellishments:
    – coriander leaves
    – crispy fried tofu with unsmoked bacon and kecap manis
    – And my own addition: really hot mustard greens.
    All worked great, esp greens which was a surprise (though not really…)

    And remember how I said I’d use the local nut-free peabutter. I did. As I said, it’s quite close in taste and texture to peanut butter. The weird thing that happened (and I think it’s because of the added stabilisers… mmmm… stabilisers), when I added the coconut milk (and chili sauce and fish sauce), it didn’t thin out, it just kind of incorporated the liquids and stayed thick. So I just added way more coconut milk. Weird.

    So it was really fun, and deliciously satisfying, and made plenty. Once again, at lunch today I will get strange looks from my coworkers.

    • June 4, 2010 4:44 am

      Yum!!! Yeah it was Charmaine’s recipe I kinda simplified to make it like malacca

      The greens would be a great addition

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