Thursday, 24 April 2014

Mum's Ngoh Hiang, 5-spice pork rolls


I'm fulfilling the promise I made earlier with the (hilarious) teaser video of Mum making ngoh hiang.

I spent a good 5 months in Singapore, and I made it my mission in these past five months to tail Mum around the kitchen, much to her annoyance. My mum is an amazing cook, the best I know perhaps. She started cooking for her entire family from the age of 10. The decades of experience have taught her much more than any cooking school could possibly teach anybody. Watching her in the kitchen is like watching a well-practised piece of choreography by a seasoned dancer– the rhythmic movement of her heavy cleaver against the chopping board; the smooth turns and stretches to reach inside cupboards; the fiery flourish as ingredients hit her wok.  

One of my mum's signature dishes is ngoh hiang. They take a fair bit of work so are often only reserved for special occasions like Chinese New Year, or when I'm back in Singapore (yes, I'm a lucky spoilt girl). 


Ngoh hiang, translated, means five spice. These five spice pork rolls are the Straits Chinese answer to sausages. (In Malaysia they call them loh bak.) Like most Chinese dishes, there are sub-cultural variations; the Teochew version has taro yam added, while the Hokkien version I grew up with has none, though there are plenty of shallots, water chestnuts and prawns added for sweetness and a refreshing crunch. Every household also has their own special combination of seasonings/ ingredients. My mum adds fish to the mix too, and her trademark (shitload of) white pepper.  The whole mixture is rolled in beancurd skin so none of the moist yumminess escapes, then these rolls are steamed and fried till golden brown and crispy. 

Yeah, pretty much sausage, but better.
MUM'S NGOH HIANG
makes 12 to 15  6-inch long rolls*
Ingredients
500g minced pork shoulder*
250g Spanish mackerel, minced
250g sea prawns, minced
500g shallots
500g fresh water chestnuts
4 pieces saltine crackers, crushed*
3 tbsp white pepper
1 tbsp five spice powder
5 tbsp light soy sauce
sea salt, to taste
1 large piece of dried bean curd skin

water, for steaming
groundnut oil, for frying

Method
1. Peel and finely chop the shallots and water chestnuts. For the water chestnuts, squeeze them to remove extra juices, or you're going to get a soggy sausage.
2. Combine all the ingredients except for the beancurd skin together, stirring vigorously clockwise (don't ask me why) till well-mixed. Leave aside to marinade.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the beancurd skin wrappers by trimming and cutting into 6 inch long rectangles. The 6 inches is for the very practical reasons of fitting the steaming plate and easy frying in the wok later.
4. Place 2 tbsp of the filling at one end of the prepared beancurd skin wrappers (the end closest to you), leaving a 1/2 inch gap from the edges. Shape the mixture so it forms a sausage. Roll the skin, tucking in the sides as you go, till the meat is fully wrapped. Place seamside down on your steaming plate. See illustration/ video.
5. Once all the rolls are formed, prepare your steamer. Bring water to a boil and then set the plate of rolls onto a rack set over the boiling water. Steam over high heat for 8 min, till cooked. Remove and set aside to cool while you finish steaming the rest.
6. Heat a wok on medium high heat, and when hot, add about an inch or so of oil into the wok. When hot, add the rolls, and fry on medium heat until the skin is golden brown and crisp. Do not overcrowd the pan and repeat as needed. Leave to cool on a wire rack before slicing into chunks and serving.



* Note I halved her recipe. Like all Asian cooks, she always cooks enough to feed the entire extended family and neighbours and possibly a whole army. It's worth making extra though, as you can freeze extra rolls once steamed, for future instant ngoh hiang-gratification.

* You want a fatty cut of pork. The lard here keeps the filling moist and juicy. Don't be afraid, lard is good for you. As always I insist on meat from a happy pig

* This is the binder, much like rusk or breadcrumbs in sausages or meatballs. Saltine crackers (or soda crackers) are a very nostalgic frugal teatime biscuit for the older generation in Singapore. There is also probably something in the baking soda. I don't like using processed food, but this is her original recipe. I'm going to try replacing this with self-raising flour next time, I'll report back.


And here's the full recipe video, with Mum's tips and a bit of Hokkien cursing thrown in. This is my first time rolling ngoh hiang. Chef has only allowed me to peel prawns/ chop water chestnuts/ cut beancurd skin in the past.

People typically serve ngoh hiang dipped in a sweet thick dark soy sauce (kecap manis) or sweet chilli sauce, but with my Mum's version, I've never found the need to dip these crisp juicy chunks in anything. I have on occasion, tossed them with a Vietnamese-style noodle salad with mint, much like a bastardised bun cha, but most often, these are just had as snacks or with rice.


~


53 comments:

  1. Where the bloody hell do you find beancurd sheets that aren't smashed to bits?

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    1. Ha! These are actually thicker than the bean curd sheets used for tong sui, so not as easily smashed. I've found them in Chinatown before, I think See Woo. And in one piece.

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    2. SAYA INGIN BERBAGI CERITA KEPADA SEMUA ORANG BAHWA MUNKIN AKU ADALAH ORANG YANG PALING MISKIN DIDUNIA DAN SAYA HIDUP BERSAMA SUAMI YANG SAKIT-SAKITAN DAN 3 BUAH HATI SAYA SELAMA 10 TAHUN DAN 10 TAHUN ITU KAMI TIDAK PERNAH MERASAKAN YANG NAMANYA KEMEWAHAN,,SETIAP HARI SAYA SELALU MEMBANTIN TULANG UNTUK KELUARGA SAYA NAMUN ITU SEMUA TIDAK PERNAH CUKUP UNTUK KEBUTUHAN HIDUP KELUARGA SAYA..AKHIRNYA AKU PILIH JALAN TOGEL INI DAN SUDAH BANYAK PARA NORMAL YANG SAYA HUBUNGI NAMUN ITU SEMUA TIDAK PERNAH MEMBAWAKAN HASIL DAN DISITULAH AKU SEMPAT PUTUS ASAH AKHIRNYA ADA SEORANG TEMAN YANG MEMBERIKAN NOMOR AKII DEWA,,SAYA PIKIR TIDAK ADA SALAHNYA JUGA SAYA COBA LAGI UNTUK MENGHUBUNGI AKII DEWA DAN AKHIRNYA AKII DEWA MEMBERIKAN ANKA GHOIBNYA DAN ALHAMDULILLAH BERHASIL..KINI SAYA SANGAT BERSYUKUR MELIHAT KEHIDUPAN KELUARGA SAYA SUDAH JAUH LEBIH BAIK DARI SEBELUMNYA,DAN TANDA TERIMAH KASIH SAYA KEPADA AKII DEWA SETIAP SAYA DAPAT RUANGAN PASTI SAYA BERKOMENTAR TENTAN BELIAU…BAGI ANDA YANG INGIN SEPERTI SAYA SILAHKAN HUBUNGI 085=293=577=799 AKII DEWA

























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      Delete
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  2. Ngoh Hiang look so delicious. I loved the video, especially when your Mum flicks the knife away with her finger! No wonder they are for special occasions. Looks like a lot of work but totally worth it for the end result. Yum.

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    1. Haha I loved that part too- you realise the camera shook then? I could't help laughing!
      Yes it's definitely one for special occasions. When Mum breaks out the ngoh hiang, you know there must be something worth celebrating!

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  3. "lard is good for you" Preach!! I couldn't agree more.
    Mom is the best. Whilst home, I'm also extracting many recipes from my mom.
    The ngoh hiang pork rolls look fantastic and I LOVE your video! Nice one Shu.

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    1. Ha! Hi 5! I've been preaching lard for years on this blog :)

      Mum IS the best. I love her so much! There is so much to learn from her. Thank you so much, means a lot coming from the youtube king himself!

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  4. I love the story behind this recipe. It makes it so personal. Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Thank you! This recipe is definitely one dear to me :)

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  5. Haha! Love the video! And the patter between Mum and you! So typical of mothers and daughters! LOL! As for those little steamed and crisped meat packages ... yum ! I wish I could find bean curd skins! Perhaps when I go to Boston, there will be some in the Asian stores in Chinatown ... hmmm!

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    1. Yeah she's still mad at me for uploading the last bit of her.... Argh!

      You will be able to find them in most Asian stores in Chinatown! Not sure if there are any around you, but yes when you next go to Boston maybe!

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  6. I miss those 5-spice pork rolls! Thank you for sharing the video too..so fun! You two are such a great team.

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    1. Time for you to make them yourself then ;) And that was so sweet, thank you! She's mad at me now though, for uploading that last bit of her..

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  7. Gorgeous! I'm on my iPad and the video won't play but I'm gonna come back in the morning when I'm on my laptop... Love the pork rolls and the little sketch for how to fold... Brilliant stuff x

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    1. Oh thank you Dom! Let me know what you think after you've watched the video!

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  8. they look wonderful and wow since she was 10 amazing love the pork and seafood combo

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    1. Yes she grew up on a farm so everyone had to help out with chores around the farm and the home. Being the eldest, she got most of the responsibilities.. amazing eh!

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  9. Haha I love that video!

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    1. HAHA HURRAH! Eh she's mad at me now though, because she says she looks terrible in it. Argh?!

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  10. They look delicious and it's great that you were able to learn so much from your mum.

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    1. Thank you Corina! I'm glad I had the time back home :)

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  11. Hahhaha what a cute video!! I love the dialogue between you and Mum in the kitchen -- so sweet. Very happy you got to spend so much quality time at home with your fam (something I wish I could do myself). Your mum is totally AMAZING in the kitchen love reading all her recipes!

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    1. Always hear your raving about your parents' food too, and that eight treasures duck! Alas! Haven't managed to try that! I'll pass the compliments on to Mum ;)

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  12. HI-LA-RIOUS video! I loved it! If you ever manage to convince your mum and record a DVD with her recipes, I will be the first one to buy it (hoping for two autographs: from the master chef and the professional film director). Your mum is not only a fabulous cook but also a gifted food presenter! (I loved the "knife" bit ;-) ).
    These pork rolls look fantastic. As a big pork lover (and consumer) I am always thrilled to learn new recipes and if you have noticed my love for everything that can be rolled and eaten as a snack you will understand why I am so enthusiastic here. Finally I know what to do with dried bean curd. I once bought some several years ago and threw it last year... it has become strange and crushed.
    PS I miss your frequent posts, but this one was certainly worth the long wait! You have both made an excellent job.

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    1. Haha! I'll pass the message on to Mum! Who knows ;) I loved the knife bit too, the camera was shaky then because I started laughing so hard.

      Be careful what kind of dried bean curd skin. There are different ones with different thicknesses/ brittleness, the ones that are easily crushed are probably the really thin ones used for adding to sweet soups and desserts!

      I'm so glad you still check back Sissi! I've been so busy and I really wish i could blog more.. thank you!

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    2. Thank you for the tip! I will check (i think they were so old and squashed they simply started breaking...).

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  13. Hi Shu Han, how you doing? Wah... pass me few pieces of ngoh hiang, I love this. Yours look awesome! Thanks for sharing the video.

    Good to see you back in action. Have a wonderful weekend.

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    1. Hello Amelia! I'm great thanks, just mighty swamped. I wish I could pass some to you ;)
      Have a great week too x

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  14. Great video! Your mom is too cute. Now, I'm hungry!!

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    1. I'll pass the message on to her ;) She will be pleased to know! Thank you!

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  15. Your mum sounds very inspirational :) those bean curd sheets sound really interesting, never heard of them before! Please cook for me one day. Very cute video too!

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    1. I would love to! I wish I could! One day for sure!

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  16. Hi Shu Han! Your mum is cute! I love ngoh hiang a lot and used to eat it when I was a kid. The video was very helpful because now it has answered my question about the beancurd skin. I used to think we had to soak it first hah...hah....because it is hard and stiff.

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    1. She is adorable! :D And no, you don't soak, but you have to make sure to get the right kind of beancurd skin sheets!

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  17. Haha, I loved that video, thanks Shu! I totally thought the beancurd sheets were just greaseproof paper in the beginning (which had been baked a few times under some cookies or something). Hey, I had no idea water chestnuts were so "juicy"... is there anything you can do with the juice, or do you just throw it away?

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    1. Yay! Not as experienced at video-making as you though ;) The bean curd skin sheets are such a great wrapper because there is no end to the stuffing possibilities.
      You can use the juice, it will taste very light and refreshing. Possibly blend with pear for a cooling drink mmmm.

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  18. really like ur food blog. simple recipes that are not too intimidating. keep it up :)

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    1. That made my day :) Thank you so much!!!

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  19. OH MAN. This is exciting. I'm accustomed to the taro-filled type, but I imagine shitloads of white pepper and shallots would not be an unwelcome switch-up. It's incredible to hear about your mom in the kitchen, and I get the feeling so many mothers and grandmothers of that generation have been seasoned into amazing cooks via necessity. As always, this is such genuine stuff Shu. Are you back in London from Singapore, now?

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    1. I love the taro-filled types too, but you can't really go wrong with shitloads of white pepper and shallots. You can't make me choose! I love how much you can learn from the older generation, and I love especially that their knowledge comes not from a book or a school, but from pure experience!
      I'm back in London now :)

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  20. This falls under the category "Please Make This For Me Because I'm Too Lazy." Nonetheless, it looks marvelous.

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    1. I know, my mum makes, I eat :p

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  21. So great to have a teacher when making things! These came out great...and look so tasty :)

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    1. I'm really lucky to have the best teacher right at home :)

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  22. Your blog is refreshing and happy to read. :) I love the illustrations and typography you did in your visuals. Hope to see more posts coming!

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    1. Thank you so much! you have no idea how happy it makes me to hear things like that. Please keep reading! :)

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  23. Hi Shu Han. Just discovered your blog today. Like your stories, recipes, humour, graphics and photos. So breezy and personable at the same time. Also found out a couple of things I never knew about Sg! Thanks from Sg!

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    1. Super late reply- I keep missing these messages! Thanks so much for dropping by and for leaving that message- it made my day! :D

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  24. Thank you for posting this. It made me laugh so much (mums know it all don't they??!). I have made this twice with Rasa Malaysia's recipe but I want to try this with the mackerel and saltine crackers. Keep posting Sg recipes - I can't get enough (my mum never cooked!).

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it Christine, haha every time I watch it I can't help laughing too. Though when the video was being made it was less funny and more stressful ("nononono! wrong!") I hope you try this version one day! x

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  25. Nice written!! I have been a big fan of your blogs. thanks best fishing line

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