New Recipes

Ngoh Hiang Recipe

Ngoh Hiang is one of the most requested recipes from my Singaporean readers. Being a Malaysian, I have no idea what ngoh hiang is. After poking around, I finally realized that ngoh hiang is the local Singaporean name for a similar dish “loh bak” or five-spice pork rolls wrapped with tofu skin. So, I invited Danielle of Bon Vivant back for another guest post. (Check out her claypot chicken rice recipe.) Please welcome Bon Vivant to Rasa Malaysia again as she shares her mother’s ngoh hiang recipe. And to all my Singaporean readers, I hope you enjoy this post! Let us know if your family makes the Hokkien version or Teochew version.

These pork rolls are a delicious and dangerous concoction. Named for the Chinese five spice powder that gives the rolls their unique flavor, Ngoh Hiang (五香) is another take on the pork sausage, if you will. A whole array of ingredients are stirred into a pound of fatty ground pork, which is then seasoned with five spice powder and snugly wrapped in dried beancurd skins. First steamed, then pan-fried to a crisp, one bite of these juicy chunks is never enough for me as I’d have worked up a massive appetite by the time these rolls hit the table, thanks to the aromas that leak out in the cooking process…

Like any good Chinese dish, these rolls have their sub-cultural variations, depending on whether the cook was of a Teochew or Hokkien dialect. In my maternal grandfather’s Teochew version, there were shrimp and water chestnuts, but no onions or yam. Before cooking, each roll was tied with string, sectioning out pieces for easy cutting and serving once ready. In my paternal grandmother’s Hokkien version, however, there were the pork and onions, but no shrimp or water chestnuts. After tasting both versions, my mother, like any curious cook, took it upon herself to fuse the two traditions to produce a pork roll to her taste.

This took years of trial and error, and neverending rounds of scrutiny and questioning before her rolls received the seal of approval from the seasoned palates on both sides of the family.

With a new recipe for utterly addictive pork rolls came a change of cooking traditions: the Hokkien grandmother saw the merits of water chestnuts and started featuring them in her rolls, while the Teochew grandfather slowly came round to adding onions to his. As you try out this particular recipe, take the liberty to substitute, add or remove ingredients according to your taste – it is, after all, in the spirit of culinary evolution and curiosity that led to this version in the first place!

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34 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. June

    I love these, they are always served during festive seasons in my family. I guess my family makes the Hokkien version but the idea of combining both is delicious!

    • Thanks June! Seems like this is the go-to festive dish for lots of Singaporean Chinese families, including my own, probably because it can be made ahead of time and frozen. Love recipes that allow you to do that!

  2. Everytime visiting this blog, I find new recipes around the world! Soya bean skin is a Japanese ingredient too, so I feel something to share with the Chinese counterpart! Ngoh Hiang is really interesting to look at and eat. Definitely worth a try. Thanks a lot, Bee and Danielle :)

    • Thanks for your sweet comment, Lacquer Spoon. That’s the very reason why I have guest bloggers from different cultures/countries to share their recipes. They know their foods the best, and it’s always so interesting to learn about culture and recipes from others. I love yuba in Japanese cuisine!

  3. Hi Danielle/Bee, thanks for the link up! Similarly, I did not know what “Loh Bak” was until Lee Mei (My Cooking Hut) told me so. For obvious reasons, my family makes the Teochew version with yam, but it’s brilliant how Danielle’s mom made a version she can call her own. I agree cooking should be creative. A beautifully presented dish!

    • Ju – for my family, we use yam for the vegetarian version of loh bak, often made during the vegetarian month, lunar calendar 9th month. Not sure if Singaporeans observe the same festival.

  4. My late mother-in-law makes good Ngoh Hiang, Teochew style. And yes, she would also make many tens of rolls, steam them, freeze them then pass them to me and my family so that whenever we want to eat them, just deep-fry them. :D

  5. Kate

    It’s interesting to know that kecap manis is used as the dipping sauce. In Malaysia, loh bak is served with chili garlic sauce and also a 5-spice flavored sticky sauce, which is so good. You first dip it in the sticky sauce, and then the chili sauce, so it’s double-coated. I need to go out and get some loh bak now. LOL.

  6. I’ve never heard of these before, but they sound addicting! Crispy outsides, flavorful insides,and pork – what more could you ask for?

  7. Shrimp in pork sausage?! Interesting.. I have to try this recipe..Can you make this with chicken or beef? or is it usually pork?

    • Hi Asha, this is traditionally made with pork and I’ve not encountered any other versions with beef or chicken. I suppose you could try a mix of either of these meats with pork – it’s important for the ground meat to have a high fat content as this will keep it moist and tender when cooked. I know that Bee has a similar recipe where she uses chicken and pork ( and her family makes a vegetarian version as well where they substitute yam for meat.

  8. I love the idea of these. The pork filling is just savory enough… a question though, (it might sound stupid,) would this dish be inferior with canned water chestnuts? I have never been able to get my hands on the fresh variety.

  9. Jabe

    Oh, this looks delicious! I have seem similar dishes (lumpia) such as this at restaurants, but never thought it was this easy to make! My question is, what kind of sauce, if any, would you recommend for this as well as any accompaniments, i.e veggies or side dishes? Thanks for making these recipes accessible. Jabe in USA

    • Hi Jabe, if you can get your hands on it, I highly recommend a sweet dark soya sauce called Kecap Manis to dip the pieces in. It should be available at any good Chinese grocery store, like Ranch 99 (in the Bay Area). For accompanying dishes, anything goes, really. At home, we serve ngoh hiang alongside stir-fried vegetables (like broccoli or bok choy), soups and of course, steamed rice.

  10. I’ve been chomping down on this without a care in the world, without realising that there were different dialect variations! It’s definitely worth trying this out now that you’ve brought it to attention (I’m ashamed yet that it’s a bit of local culture I wasn’t aware of).

    Amazing recipe, can’t wait to try it out and let mom have a taste!

  11. I was also wondering, how did ngoh hiang become a part of the Singapore tradition where it’s sold with fried bee hoon noodles? It’s become the staple in stalls where several fried dishes are laid out, and customers can choose their favourite dishes.

  12. Kusinera

    Will the over all taste of this dish change if I substitute Chinese five spices powder for Chinese five spices sauce (in a jar)?

    Thanks for your help!

  13. Kel

    I followed this recipe. The ngoh hiang turned out great. Its a must try. I didn’t add green onions though. I actually went down to the market and asked if they had green colored onions.. Lol.. I only realized they were spring onions after I read the ” The Little Teochew’s images of how to roll ngoh hiang”.

  14. Mabel

    hi your ngoh hiang is awesome! but is it a must to steam before fry? my grandma also fry without steaming and freeze it. any difference?

  15. Elynn

    Is it alright to substitute plain flour and baking powder if self-raising flour is not available?
    May I know proportion for them? Thanks ! This is a wonderful recipe! :)

  16. Christina

    I tried the recipe twice. Once with corn flour and once with self-raising flour. Both are nice but the one with self-raising flour holds the meat together.

  17. wilhelmina

    Thanks for your very informative and helpful website. One question, I have the dried soya bean skin, do I have to soak them in water before I can cut them? Thanks in advance.

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