Ngoh Hiang or Five Spice Meat Roll, I have discovered, is a staple home cooked specialty dish for many of us here in Singapore during festive occasions like Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year for me as a kid was a frenzy of quick visitations at relatives and friends’ houses. During those days, efficient highways that appears to link one end of Singapore to the other in 40mins were nowhere to be found. Hence the commute from household to household was always a dread for us. One of the most dreaded compulsory stops we had to make was at my father’s cousin’s place. Beidei’s (Hainanese for uncle) flat was far away at Telok Blangah and with his big household, his flat was always crowded with people during Chinese New Year. Lunch was served in the crammed kitchen featuring boring homecooked dishes like boiled chicken, roast duck etc… dishes that kids generally do not appreciate or enjoy. The one dish that saved the meal was the Ngoh Hiang which had somewhat become their Chinese New Year signature dish. So much so that when Beidei’s eldest daughter, Siew Ying, who was responsible for the meal, got married, the dish would continue to be featured when the his eldest daughter-in-law took over the helm in the kitchen.
The traditional Ngoh Hiang is a minced meat roll wrapped in beancurd skin in the form of an egg roll or spring roll. This is then deep fried until the meat is cooked and the beancurd wrap takes on a golden crisp. These rolls were then sliced to bite size and when these are served, everyone would be eyeing the 2 slices at the end of each roll simply because the folded ends would pack in more crispy beancurd punch. As the years went by, we began to figure out that if we would prepare these as mini-rolls then, every bite would be a crispy experience for everyone.
I made these 2 weeks ago when a group of bloggers decided to gather at Edith’s new place for a gathering. Using a recipe from Shermay Lee’s The New Mrs Lee’s Cookbook, I have made this numerous times to good response. One of my friends even commented that this could compete with her mother’s Ngoh Hiang. (to whom I shall remember not to serve) If you look at the recipe, you would be quick to notice that it does not contain any of the namesake 5 spice powder. Peculiar indeed and on several occasions I had just decided to add a pinch or two of the spices on my own to give it authenticity. What I do like about this recipe is the well balanced use of prawn, lean and belly pork with crab meat to give it the natural sweet juiciness with minimal seasoning. The incorporation of water chestnut also added texture to every bite.
Scrumptious good taste is what I am after and this simple recipe works for me and I hope, for you too.
If you are curious about the other scrumptious good eats we had at the gathering, here’s a glimpse…
Frittatas and Creamy prawns and mushrooms canapés - Passionate about Baking
Chicken Kebabs - Honey Bee Sweets
Beans Salad, Lemon Coconut Cupcakes - The Batter Baker
Ngoh Hiang - Kokken
Chicken Pies - Baking Library
Cherry Cake - Peng’s Kitchen
Roselle Macarons, Ikan Gerang Assam, Apam Balik Durian - Travelling Foodies
Chocolate pudding with mocha sauce, pandan steamed brownies - I Love, I cook, I bake
Tiramisu - Annielicious Food
Lemon Curd Cupcakes - Dreamers Loft
Korean Style Sushi - Wen’s Delight
Chicken Stew, Puff Biscuits - All That Matters
- Beancurd Skin 2 sheets (available from Asian Grocery Stores)
- Oil for deep frying
- Water Chestnut 8
- Egg 1
- Prawn meat 160g
- Minced Pork Belly 100g
- Lean minced pork 200g
- Crab Meat 100g
- Salt ½ tsp
- Pepper 2 dashes
- All purpose flour 1tbsp
- Water 1 tbsp
- Cut the beancurd skin to about 10cm by 12 cm rectangles.
- Wipe down the beancurd skin with a damp clean towel to remove excess salt.
- Wash the water chestnuts and peel. Dice the water chestnut and set aside.
- Light beat egg and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, mix together pork, prawn, crab meat, diced water chestnut, beaten egg, salt and pepper and mix well. (you can add a ¼ tsp of 5 spice powder here if desired)
- Mix the flour with water to form a paste. This will be used as a ‘glue’ to seal the folded edged of the roll.
- Place roughly a tablespoon of (5) in the center of one sheet of the cut beancurd skin (1). Fold one side of the beancurd skin over the filling and fold the roll over to meet the other side of the beancurd skin (it will look more like a pillow than an egg roll)
- Apply some flour paste along the edges and flatten the ends of the beancurd skin to seal.
- Repeat until all filling / beancurd skin has been used up.
- Set up a boiling water bath to steam (9) for about 5-10mins.
- Cool down (10) and deep fry the cooked rolls in oil to golden brown.
- Drain and serve with sweet chili sauce.