Recently, there has been an influx on ads selling Ngoh Hiang online. And most of them “originated” from their grandmas’ secret recipes. Few weeks ago, my beloved sis ordered from this insta-famous retailer with 100% positive reviews so it must be good, right? Well, all I could say is she won’t be ordering from them anymore.
So I decide to get in touch with my Hokkien roots and make some. But first, I have to do my own research. My late grandma did not have pass down any secret Ngoh Hiang recipe to me. Plus, there are two versions – Hokkien and Teochew Ngoh Hiang. Do you know what the difference between these two types is? Yam. Traditionally, yam is found only in Teochew-style Ngoh Hiang. I vaguely remember having a conversation with someone on which style is better. Honestly, I can’t tell. All I know is a decent Ngoh Hiang should have copious amount of pork and prawn, juicy not mushy and it must have that signature crunchy texture (thanks to the generous of water chestnut) with every bite.
Ngoh Hiang in Hokkien means Chinese Five-Spice, which is one of the essential ingredients in this dish too. Excluding it, you’ll be making Hei Zou (aka Fried Prawn Roll) instead. Think of it as the cousin of Ngoh Hiang.
Another important ingredient that makes or breaks your Ngoh Hiang is the pork. In order to achieve that delightful juicy texture, it is imperative to use minced pork made up of a ratio of 50% fat to meat.
That means using minced pork belly.You could use lean meat too but that just means your Ngoh Hiang will end up on the drier side. Oh, I almost forgot. Most Ngoh Hiang recipes do not call for this ingredient – fish paste, which I’ve included in my recipe. I’ve adapted it from my Hokkien Meatball which has raving reviews. You could definitely omit this ingredient if it is not readily available at your grocer.
I kept the seasoning for the meat filling to minimal. Why? Naturally, bean curd skin tends to be quite salty so the last thing you want, is to be eating a really salty Ngoh Hiang. Thankfully, I was able to find a low-salt bean curd skin online. Even with that, I was careful not to over-season the filling.
This recipe requires you to steam the meat rolls before double-frying them. This way, you could store extra portions in the freezer for up to a month.
After thawing, soak up excess moisture with a paper towel before frying – TWICE. The double-frying method allows you to achieve a super crispy exterior yet non-oily pieces of meat nuggets. Now, if that is not happiness on a plate, I don’t know what is.
40 g bean curd skin (low-salt preferably)
200 g minced pork (50% fat & meat)
200 g peeled prawns (gut removed) – chopped into granules
40 g fish paste
1 egg – beaten
3 tbsp carrots – grated (optional)
120 g Water chestnut – diced finely
2 tbsp coriander – chopped (substitute with green onions if unavailable)
1/8 tsp fish sauce
¼ tsp light soy sauce
½ tsp sole fish / flounder fish powder (replace with ¼ tsp salt if unavailable)
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp white pepper
¼ tsp 5-spice powder
3 to 4 tbsp Tapioca flour + more if needed (substitute with corn flour if unavailable)
6 tbsp corn flour + 3 tbsp boiling water
Makes 8 to 10 rolls (depending on the amount of filling)
Trim off the skin from the water chestnuts with a small knife. Rinse and drain. If using pre-cleaned water chestnuts, skip this step.
Chop water chestnuts into small granules, avoid mincing too finely. Set aside.
Repeat above step with the prawns.
In a small bowl, mix sole fish powder, sugar, 5-spice and pepper together. This way the seasoning powder will be well distributed into the meat paste.
In a large bowl, add in all the ingredients excluding the water chestnut and mix in a clockwise direction for about 5 to 10 mins. Mix until it forms a paste.
You should be able to hold most of the paste without it dripping back into the bowl. If the mixture feels too wet, add a little more flour.
Lastly add in water chestnut and give it a gently mix. Avoid stirring too much or else the water chestnut will release more liquid.
Set aside for about 10 mins while you prepare the bean curd skin.
Trim the loose ends of the bean curd skin and cut into desired size. Mine was about 11″ x 8″.
Use a slightly damp paper towel and wipe excess salt on the bean curd skin gently.
If there are tiny holes on the bean curd skin, it is still fine to use them.
Take one sheet of bean curd skin and spread some starch paste along the edge (closest to you).
Add a few scoops of meat paste and mould it into a log shape, leaving about ½-inch gap on both sides of the skin.
Roll and tuck in the sides properly.
Fold in both sides and secure them down with some starch paste.
Keep rolling and once you reach the end, spread a little more starch to close the end.
Spread a little oil on a heat proof tray and place the meat rolls on it. The oil will prevent the rolls from sticking the bottom of the tray.
Bring water to boil and place the tray into the steamer. Steam at medium heat for 15 to 20 mins, or until the rolls are firm to touch.
Remove from heat and let them cool for 10 mins before taking them out from the tray.
Store extra cooled portion in freezer.
Cut the meat roll into cubes. I like to cut them at a diagonal angle.
Heat enough oil in a pot, about 150°C. Test with a chopstick or wooden skewer. If you see small bubbles, it is ready.
Gently add in few pieces at a time and fry for about 1 min, until light golden. If the oil is smoking, turn down the heat to medium low.
Remove and drain on paper towel. Repeat with the rest.
To serve, heat up oil to about 180°C. You’ll need your oil to be really hot for this process. Carefully place a few pieces of meat roll into the hot oil carefully and fry for 15 to 20 seconds. Do not over-crowd the pan or the temperature will drop.
This double-frying process will crisp up the Ngoh Hiang further and expel excess oil.