Teochew Ngoh Hiang

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

I can never get enough of ngoh hiang, the deep-fried meat rolls that are full of the fragrance of five-spice powder and yam, the sweetness of prawns and pork, and the crunch of water chestnuts.

The salty beancurd skin wrapped around the filling adds to the aroma. More importantly, it stops moisture from escaping, keeping the meat roll moist and juicy.

Mmmmm . . . .

What makes Teochew ngoh hiang Teochew? It's the yam, which Hokkien ngoh hiang doesn't have. Of course, the Teochew version is far superior, in my totally unbiased, impartial opinion.

Seetoh is right about Teochew ngoh hiang having yam (0:25 in the video). But the yam isn't used as a thickener. Instead, it's added because it complements the five-spice powder, 五香粉, which gives the meat roll its name, 五香.

Does Teochew 五香 have a lot of flour, as Seetoh says? Only when cost is more important than quality, and flour is used as a cheap filler! That goes for anything made with minced meat, not just ngoh hiang, and certainly not just ngoh hiang that's Teochew.

I guess Seetoh doesn't know much about Teochew ngoh hiang, and he's eaten only bad ones. But he is right about one thing though. Good ngoh hiang, be it Hokkien or Teochew, must have lard. Please repeat after me: Good ngoh hiang must have lard! All together now: Good ngoh hiang must have LOTS of lard! Praise the lard! Hallelujah . . . . HalleluLARD!

People stopped eating lard in the 1980s, fearing for their life. But 30 years of abstaining from delicious pork fat hasn't delivered any of the benefits promised. The number of people suffering from high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, strokes and heart diseases have increased relentlessly over the past three decades.

So why is everyone still afraid of lard? And even eggs, which doctors have given the ok for donkey's years?

Because abstaining from something enjoyable harks back to their childhood. It reminds them of how they were praised when, as kids, they did as they were told. It gives them a reason to say, as their parents did when they didn't misbehave, “Good girl/boy!”

Do you want to be naughty for a change? If you do, scroll down for the recipe.

(Recipe for 16 small rolls)

60 x 40 cm salted beancurd skin (½ sheet)
wipe both sides with damp cloth, and cut into 16 pieces each measuring 10 x 15 cm
¾ cup yam (aka taro) diced 5 mm
deep-fry over high heat till just cooked, 1-2 minutes
½ cup water chestnuts diced 5 mm
150 g prawns
shell, devein, rinse, dry thoroughly with paper towels, and cut pea size
350 g fatty pork mince (mix 250 g lean meat with 100 g lard)
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp Shao Xing wine
½ tbsp white sesame oil
¼ tsp ground white pepper
2 tbsp water
½ tsp cornflour
⅔ tsp five-spice powder

vegetable oil for deep-frying

🌹 Instead of small rolls, you can make big ones 4 cm thick and 15 cm long. These would have to be steamed, then deep-fried and cut bite size. Cooked twice, biggies wouldn't be as juicy as small ngoh hiang deep-fried without steaming.

Prepare beancurd sheet as detailed above. Set aside.

Prepare yam, water chestnuts and prawns as detailed above. Thoroughly mix all ingredients for filling except prawns. Stir, in one direction only, till mixture is sticky, about 5 minutes. Add prawns and mix through.

Place 1 beancurd sheet vertically on a plate. Spread bottom end with 30 g (1½ tbsp) filling, up to 1 cm from edges. Roll upward tightly without folding in the sides. Set aside, seam side down. Repeat . . . .

With a non-stick pot, deep-fry meat rolls in moderately hot oil over medium to medium-low heat till golden brown and just cooked. Best served hot as finger food, as it is. Only bad ngoh hiang need to be dunked and smothered in sweet dark soya sauce or sweet chilli sauce, to hide the fact that it's bad.


Blur Ting said...

I often make this but without the yam. Recently I find the bean curd skin getting saltier and saltier. Even though I wiped using damp cloth, the ones I made last week were so salty, we actually couldn't eat them.

Is there a particular brand you use? I normally buy the labeless ones from wet market but that extra salty pack one was from a supermarket. can't remeber which one though.

KT said...

Kwong Cheong Thye sells no-salt beancurd skin (although the label says low-salt). I think it's what dim sum restaurants use for deep-fried prawn & chive beancurd skin rolls. Fried without steaming, it can tolerate high heat better than the salty one, and doesn't brown as quickly. It's quite good, but there're 9 sheets in 1 pack which is a lot. So I usually use the salty, no-brand skin available at wet markets.

I've got another one – no-salt, Jade brand – from a wet market. Haven't tried it though. It's smooth, not crinkled like KCT's or the salty one. I think dim sum restaurants use it for beancurd rolls that are deep-fried and then steamed with a bit of sauce. Looks quite tough, like frozen popiah skin but yellow . . . . Just remembered I have some leftover filling in the freezer. Yipee!

Hope you didn't throw away your very salty ngoh hiang? Could put it in soup, like for yong tau foo.

Blur Ting said...

Thanks for the recommendations. I didn't throw away. I removed the skin, washed the meat under running water and fed it to my dog.

creamdeluxec said...


This may seem like a dumb question but is the beancurd skin dried beancurd skin? I've only ever seen dried beancurd skin and have been wondering how it's possible to use it to wrap meat as it looks so crisp!

Also, do you know what's the difference between ngoh hiang ang hei chor?

KT said...

Hi hi

I, too, have wondered about ngoh hiang and hei chor. My conclusions are:

Hei chor must have have hei (prawns). It must be shaped like a chor (date). It doesn't have yam. It doesn't have ngoh hiang (five-spice powder).

Ngoh hiang, OTOH, doesn't have hei traditionally. But, because pork isn't as tasty as it used to be, most people nowadays add some prawns to improve the flavour. NH isn't roundish but long like a sausage. The teochew version has yam. Most importantly, ngoh hiang must have ngoh hiang.

Beancurd skin: The crispy type, unsalted, is used for making sweet soups. It's usually boiled in water till it disintegrates. The non-crispy type is salted. It's soft like a piece of cloth, so you can use it to wrap minced pork, fish paste, etc.

creamdeluxec said...

Hi KT,

Thanks for your views on this. I've been wondering about these rolls for awhile now and haven't been able to get a satisfactory answer till now!! Then there is also the fry the whole roll, then slice or slice and then fry each slice issue (came up over CNY when Dad bought some uncooked ngoh hiang for us and we did it wrongly! yikes!)

I've not been able to find the soft beancurd skin at NTUC! Guess I'll have to try harder or just hit the wet markets!Thanks again!

Genevieve said...

Hi, is Shao Xing Wine same as Hua Tiao Chew ?

KT said...

In this case, yes, although Shao Xing makes many types of wine besides hua diao.

The best hua diao comes from Shao Xing, so Shao Xing wine has become synonymous with hua diao.

EC said...

Hi KT,

I normally make the hokkien ngoh hiang (without steaming) and store in the freezer for CNY. Can I also prepare this in advance and store in the freezer without steaming? Pls advise.


KT said...

Hi EC, yes.

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