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By October 12, 2015 , , , ,

Ngoh Hiang, otherwise known as Loh Bak is a mixture of minced meat and vegetables seasoned with five-spiced powder, rolled up in bean curd skin, steamed then deep fried to crispy, golden-brown roll of deliciousness! It's a popular appetiser among Malaysian and Singaporean Teochew and Hokkien folks.

Whilst this is not a complicated dish to make, it is extremely time-consuming. It took me an hour just to slice and dice all the ingredients, which includes shiitake mushrooms, carrot, shallots, onion and spring onion. Three of the ingredients listed reduced me to a puddle of tears and a whole new world of pain. Try focusing on not slicing your fingers into pieces through tears in your eyes and snot running down your nose.

A unique ingredient in this dish is cream crackers, which is blitzed into a powdery mixture, then mixed through the minced meat and vegetable mixture. I'm not sure why this is necessary, but it does give off a buttery, creamy fragrance when added. I stumbled upon these Hup Seng cream crackers at my local Asian grocer and they are my first choice to make Ngoh Hiang, simply because my late-grandma and my mum swears by these.

Now, onto the wrappers. Ngoh Hiang wrapper is essentially tofu skin. 

Say what?

I'm not sure if it's used in other Chinese cuisines, but it is quite common to use tofu skin in Malaysian-Chinese dishes. This wrinkly piece of...skin used to be a mystery to me. It looks like papyrus paper from the ancient times and smell choke-full of salt. But on a random Saturday afternoon I happened to watch Celebrity Chef (basically China's version of Masterchef, with B-list celebrities) and watched as the contestants create pieces of tofu skin from...you guess it, soy milk! 

Yes, tofu skin is the layer of film formed on top of a pan of boiled then simmering soy-milk. It's then collected and dried to make the tofu skin as we see. Do not be disgusted by its hideous appearance: it is the key to create crispy, golden-brown Ngoh Hiang. 

Wipe down the tofu skin with a damp cloth, take some care not to break the skin. Once the tofu skin is damp, it will be easier to cut it into 10 pieces of 20x10cm. After brushing the tofu skin with egg white wash, scoop a spoonful or two of the meat mixture on the tofu skin, then wrap it into a parcel. Then seal the parcel with egg white wash.

Steam Ngoh Hiang over high heat for 10-15 minutes, until the tofu skin turns translucent. Then, you can eat it as is, or fry it over high heat until the skin turns golden brown.

I love dipping the deep-fried Ngoh Hiang in your regular old tomato sauce. It is the perfect alternative to your standard cocktail food and a crowd-pleaser!

Ngoh Hiang

Corn starch: 2 tbsp + 3 tbsp
Minced pork: 500g
Carrot: 1, peeled, chopped finely
Shitake mushroom: 150g, chopped finely
White onion: 2, chopped finely
Shallot: 150g, chopped finely
Cream cracker biscuits: 8, crushed into fine powder
Spring onion: 3 stalks, chopped finely
Eggs: 3, yolks and whites separated
5-spice powder: 2 tbsp
Salt: 2 tsp
Pepper: 2 tsp
Sesame oil: 3 tbsp
Fish sauce or light soy sauce: 5 tbsp
Sugar: 1.5 tbsp
Shaoxing wine: 2 tbsp
Beancurd skin wrappers: 10 pieces of 20cm x 20cm each (about 80g in all)
Oil: 400ml (if frying)

Add 2 tbsp corn starch into minced pork and mix till even.

Mix in carrot, mushroom, onion, shallot, crackers, spring onion and parsley.

Stir in 3 egg yolks, 3 tbsp corn starch, salt, pepper, sesame oil, fish sauce, sugar and wine. Mix well.

Brush egg white onto beancurd skin. Place 3 heaped tbsp of mixture onto skin at the top. Roll it in, wrap up the sides and continue rolling to the other end. Seal by brushing the edge of skin with egg white.

Repeat step 4 for the rest of the mixture and skin wrappers.

Steam ngoh hiang over high heat for 10 – 15 min, till wrappers turn translucent.

Heat oil in wok. Shallow fry ngoh hiang for 5 – 8 min on each side till golden brown.

Place on kitchen paper towel to absorb the oil first.

Slice into thumb-length pieces to serve.

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