Closeup of a popiah roll with a filling of bean sprouts and other ingredients
Alternative namespo̍h-piáⁿ
Place of originFujian, China
Region or stateEast Asia (Teochew and Hokkien-speaking communities), Southeast Asia
Associated cuisineSingapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mainland China, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia
Main ingredientsPopiah skin, bean sauce, filling of finely grated and steamed or stir-fried turnip, jicama, bean sprouts, French beans, lettuce leaves, grated carrots, Chinese sausage slices, thinly sliced fried tofu, chopped peanuts or peanut powder, fried shallots, and shredded omelette
VariationsLumpia, bò bía
Other informationEaten during Qingming Festival
Traditional Chinese薄餅
Simplified Chinese薄饼
Hokkien POJpo̍h-piáⁿ
Alternative Chinese name
Simplified Chinese润饼
Hokkien POJjūn-piáⁿ or lūn-piáⁿ

Popiah (Pe̍h-ōe-jī: po̍h-piáⁿ) is a Fujianese/Teochew-style fresh spring roll filled with an assortment of fresh, dried, and cooked ingredients, eaten during the Qingming Festival and other celebratory occasions. The dish is made by the people and diaspora of Fujian province of China (in Quanzhou, Xiamen, and Zhangzhou), neighbouring Chaoshan district, and by the Teochew and Hoklo diaspora in various regions throughout Southeast Asia and in Taiwan (due to the majority of Taiwanese being Hoklo), The origin of popiah dates back to the 17th century.[1][2]


In the Chaoshan dialect and Hokkien language, popiah is pronounced as /poʔ˩piã˥˧/ (薄餅),[3] which means "thin flatbread/cake". Depending on the regions in Fujian, it is also commonly referred to as /lun˩piã˥˧/ (潤餅), which is the etymological origin of "lumpia" in the Philippines and Indonesia. It is referred to as rùnbǐng (潤餅) or báobǐng (薄餅) in Mandarin, and also as bópíjuǎn (薄皮卷).

Wrapper and fillings

A popiah "skin" (薄餅皮) is a soft, thin paper-like crepe or pancake made from wheat flour. The method of producing the wrapper involves making an extremely wet and viscous dough. A ball of this dough is held to the right hand, then quickly "rubbed" (擦薄餅皮, Hokkien: chhat po̍h-piáⁿ phê, literally "to rub a popiah crepe") against a hot steel plate in a circular fashion, and lifted.[4][5] Through this process, a very thin layer of the wet dough adheres to the plate and begins to cook. The upper surface of the crepe is then usually cleaned of excess pieces of dough using the dough ball through a dabbing process.[5] When the dough has been cooked to completion, it is peeled off from the hot steel plate before being removed. The rubbing is typically done over two or three plates at once, which allows the baker to continuously produce crepes and gives enough time for each crepe to be properly cooked.[6]

A popiah vendor in Keelung, Taiwan. Popiah crepes are produced through "rubbing" (foreground) and then filled and rolled (background)

It is eaten in accompaniment with a sweet sauce (often a bean sauce), a blended soy sauce or hoisin sauce or a shrimp paste sauce (hae-ko, Pe̍h-ōe-jī: hê-ko), and optionally with hot chilli sauce before it is filled. The filling is mainly finely grated and steamed or stir-fried turnip, jicama (known locally as bangkuang), which has been cooked with a combination of other ingredients such as bean sprouts, French beans, and lettuce leaves, depending on the individual vendor, along with grated carrots, slices of Chinese sausage, thinly sliced fried tofu, chopped peanuts or peanut powder, fried shallots, and shredded omelette. Other common variations of popiah include pork (lightly seasoned and stir-fried), shrimp or crab meat. Seaweed is often included in the Xiamen versions. Some hawkers in Malaysia and Singapore, especially in non-halal settings, will add fried pork lard. As a fresh spring roll, the popiah skin itself is not fried.

Two common ways of eating this are holding them like a burrito, which some prefer, while others cut the popiah roll into slices and pick them up with chopsticks. It requires some skill to pick the pieces up with chopsticks. Spoons are seldom provided at the establishments.


In mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia there are "popiah parties" at home, where the ingredients are laid out and guests make their own popiah with proportions of ingredients to their own personal liking.


Ingredients for making a popiah in Taiwan

In Taiwan, popiah is called runbing (潤餅) in Mandarin, jūn-piánn(-kauh) in Taiwanese Hokkien.

The stuffing itself is quite diverse among different places. The basic stuffing includes vegetables that grow in spring, meat and thinly shredded omelette. In some places, they also add noodles, Chinese sausages, stewed vegetables instead of blanched ones, tofu, seafood, sticky rice, and so on.

Furthermore, the way of cooking the stuffing is very different as well. In northern Taiwan, the stuffing is flavoured, stir-fired, sometimes it goes with peanut powder, and the sauce is salty. In southern Taiwan, the popiah stuffing is water blanched without additional seasoning, and flavoured primarily with sugar and peanut powder. For people who live in southern Taiwan, the addition of sufficient sugar is key for popiah. Moreover, some people like to heat or steam the spring roll again after it is made.

Some food stalls serve popiah filled with ice cream. This is a sweet and savory treat - the ice cream is commonly pineapple, peanut and taro flavored, or these three flavors swirled together. The vendor will have a giant block of peanut candy nearby. They will shave this in front of you to create a bed of peanut shavings on the popiah skin. Then the three scoops of ice cream are placed on the bed. It is customary to add a piece of cilantro before the whole thing is wrapped up and handed to you. Some people have dubbed it an ice-cream burrito.[7]

Southeast Asian

Making of popiah

In Malaysia and Singapore, popiah is part of Chinese cuisine of these two countries. However, in both countries, as well as in Brunei, popiah (especially the fried variant) is also popular as part of local street food. In Vietnam, bò bía is the Vietnamese variant of popiah, introduced by Teochew immigrants. It is common to see an old Teochew man or woman selling bò bía at their roadside stand. In Cambodian cuisine, popiah is known as num por pia (Khmer: នុំពពៀ). In Thai cuisine, two types of popia (Thai: เปาะเปี๊ยะ) are popular: popia sot (fresh spring roll) and popia thot (deep-fried spring roll). In addition, Thai cuisine has also incorporated the Vietnamese summer roll under the name kuaitiao lui suan (Thai: ก๋วยเตี๋ยวลุยสวน). While in Burma/Myanmar, it is known as kawpyan (ကော်ပြန့်). Similar foods in other cuisines include the Filipino lumpiang sariwa and the Indonesian Lumpia Basah spring rolls which are served with peanut sauce, etymologically derived from the Hokkien name Lum Pia. Majority of ethnic Chinese in both countries are of Hokkien origin.

See also


  1. ^ "照過來!清明到呷潤餅" [Picture it! Qingming Festival to lunpia]. TVBS (in Chinese). 31 March 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  2. ^ "清明吃润饼你知道来历吗? 美味润饼菜咋做?" [Do you know the origin of Qingming eating lunpia?]. 闽南网 (Minnan Net) (in Chinese). 1 April 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  3. ^ Wu, Olivia (10 January 2011). "Full-moon feast". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  4. ^ Mowe, Rosalind (2008), Culinaria Southeast Asia: A Journey Through Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, Ullmann, ISBN 978-0-8416-0370-7
  5. ^ a b 5 薄餅皮拿起來的姿勢 (七分鐘).wmv, eva354520, archived from the original on 22 December 2021 Description: A beginner learning the proper techniques and tricks of how to "rub" a popiah crepe.
  6. ^ 羅東夜市薄餅皮製作, ych12001, archived from the original on 22 December 2021
  7. ^ "Taiwanese Ice Cream Burrito". Atlas Obscura. 26 April 2016. Retrieved 3 March 2021.