Choon Pneah – Hainanese Spring Roll

Hai Nan Town choon piah
Hai Nan Town choon piah – vegetable, prawns and crab meat spring roll.

Choon pneah, or better known as spring roll, was a luxury when I was a kid. That was because my parents seldom ate out at places where this was served. The few restaurants that served choon pneah in the seventies were Hainanese restaurants like the Loke Thye Koo and Hai Onn in Burmah Road, and Hollywood in Tanjung Bungah.

I was not very fond of it then as I disliked the taste of the marinate for the ingredients. The Worchestershire sauce for dipping also made me nauseous. Over the years, I grew a liking for Lea and Perrins’ quirky flavours, which went well with the deep-fried aroma of the choon pneah. Now, whenever the menu in a restaurant offers it, I would order it.

The main ingredients of minced pork, crab meat and prawns are stir-fried with julienned cabbage, sengkuang (yam bean) carrots and onions. These are then wrapped in spring roll pastry and deep fried. The roll is then cut and eaten dipped in Worchestershire and sliced red chillies. Despite having savoured some very nice choon pneah, I have yet to find one that gives that extra oomph and makes me want to go back for more.