Friday, 4 July 2014


Last weekend I watched a food programme on TV.  I think it is a Singaporean programme as the host is a famous actor from that country called Mark.  During this particular episode, he went to the birth place of
Popiah (薄餅) aka Rice-wrap in China.  Popiah or Pok Pang is a very Traditional Cuisine that the Hokkien Clan will consume during Big Occasions such as Lunar New Year (農曆新年) or Qing Ming Festival (清明節).
During the show, there was an introduction on how Popiah was invented by a lady called Madam Cai.  She was married to a scholar by the name of Cai Fu Yi (蔡复一).  Cai being a righteous, truthful and Loyal official offended a few rebellious High-ranking Officers in the Imperial Court and so, within a year or two, was boycotted by this group of wicked Officers.  They plotted to make life hard for him and suggested that Cai Fu Yi to do the Calligraphy-copying work for the emperor.  There were 9 Big Boxes of Ancient Records on Chinese History for Officer Cai to complete in 49 Days before Emperor's Birthday.
Knowing that the wicked Officers were trying to make him suffer, Cai Fu Yi took up the gauntlet and accepted the Order from the Ming Emperor.
On the very day, after returning from the Imperial Court, Cai Fu Yi started copying the manuscripts of the 9 Big Boxes of Ancient Records.
After 3 days, Cai Fu Yi had not showered, eaten any meals and had any time for sleep. Seeing that Cai Fu Yi suffered so much, Madam Cai was worried and upset. So while Cai Fu Yi was concentrating on the copying, Madam Cai went to the Kitchen to prepare some dishes for her husband.
After the meal was ready, Madam Cai sent the dishes to Cai Fu Yi, but Cai Fu Yi was too engrossed in his work, he did not touch his meal and the dishes were left on the table till late night. While Madam Cai returned to the Study, she was heart-broken. With no other alternative, Madam Cai had to return to the kitchen to reheat the dishes.
This time round, Madam Cai ground the raw-rice into powder form, after that, she added a bit of salt, sugar and water into the rice-powder. Gently mixing them up and after the powder was well-mixed, she heated up the wok and slowly poured the batter onto the hot wok, gently lifting up the wok and swaying it around to make the batter spread out in the wok. The batter turned into  a thin sheet.
Carefully, she took out the rice sheet from the wok and placed uneaten dishes onto the rice sheets and wrapped it up into small rolls.  Tada, that was the birth of the popiah.
Madam Cai sent them to the study. Seeing that her husband was still so busy and engrossed, Madam Cai took one of the Wraps and fed her husband.
At first, Cai Fu Yi was shocked, but after seeing the wrap and knowing that these they were specially prepared by his wife, Cai Fu Yi was touched and he quickly finished them.
From then on, Madam Cai prepared the Popiah wraps everyday for Cai Fu Yi and soon, 49 Days was up and Cai Fu Yi completed all the 9 Boxes of Ancient Records.
After receiving the work from Cai Fu Yi, the Ming Emperor was so happy and rewarded Cai Fu Yi generously.
From then, the Rice-wrap was passed down Generation to Generation and this is what we called Popiah today.
Today, in China Hokkien Province, Tong An County, descendants of Cai Fu Yi are still selling the Rice-wraps and continuing the Culture of what their ancestor had passed down.


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