When we were younger (ie in primary and secondary school), there would be nights when my dad would suddenly quip, “Let’s go out for supper!” Those days didn’t happen very frequently but when they did, we kids would get excited. Where would we go? What would we eat?
There were nights we’d make a beeline for the nearby tai chow (Chinese stirfry restaurant). Other nights, we would cool ourselves down with ais kacang (shaved ice over beans and sweet condiments). And there were those nights we would have ngoh heong.
Ngoh heong literally means 5 spices. It refers to the Chinese 5 spice powder, used in the the fried bean curd skin meat rolls those hawker stalls sell. Alongside that, they would have fried firm tofu, bean curd strips, crispy pork rind, braised pork ears, boiled pork belly, shredded cucumber, shredded turnip, century eggs and various other fried stuff…. with a lovely thick sweet sauce and chilli sauce poured over top.
My mom decided to recreate a much healthier version of this family favourite for our dinner recently. The difference was that she added more nutritious veggies into the meat filling. Nothing wrong with that at all, since we’re going to fry this in loads of oil.
For the meat filling, she used:
Ground Pork, Water chestnut, Carrot, Spring Onions, Cornstarch, Chinese 5 Spice Powder, Sesame Oil, Salt, Pepper
She peeled and chopped up the water chestnut first.
Then mixed it into the mince together with the seasoning.
Grated carrot and spring onions went in next for colour and nutrition.
She left the meat mixture to marinate in the fridge while getting on with the bean curd skin. I tell you, them skins are salty! And I really mean brain-numbing saltiness. My mom told me that the seller insisted it wasn’t the salty kind. Right…..
So we decided to give it a wash. Gently so it wouldn’t break. Ours were sturdy enough!
I helped her to dry it on a lint-free kitchen towel.
The skins shrank after it dried out a bit. Like at least 10% shrinkage. 0.0 We didn’t want it too dry as well because otherwise it would crack when rolling. So once it was dry enough not to break, we started rolling. Or rather I started rolling.
It’s not difficult. You basically place the filling at the shorter edge of the skin. Then roll up one turn. Flit both sides up and tuck the corners in while rolling it up the rest of the skin, sealing the seams with some cornflour slurry.
And we got about 6 large rolls! Look at them — all spring roll-like.
The rest was easy. Just fry in some hot oil, turning to ensure that all sides get brown and crispy.
We let the rolls sit for a while before cutting them up.
If you can’t find bean curd skin anywhere near you but are interested in making this, Rasa Malaysia recently posted a method on how to make your own bean curd skin at home. If you are buying, though, only remember this: don’t trust store operators! Taste-test before using lest you become left with overly salted inedible rolls.
Here’s to childhood hawker memories. What was your childhood supper memory?
“I know that Thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from Thee.” (Job 42:2)
Bean Curd Skin Meat Rolls (Ngoh Heong)
makes 6 rolls
1 cup Minced Pork
4 Water Chestnuts, roughly chopped
3-4 tbsp coarsely grated Carrot
5 sprigs Spring Onions, green parts only, sliced
1/4 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Chinese 5 Spice Powder
1/4 tsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Corn Starch
2 large sheets Bean Curd Skin (about 9×13 inch each)
1 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp water
1 cup Vegetable Oil, for frying
- Mix the meat together with all the stated ingredients, except the bean curd skin. Set aside.
- Do a taste-test to determine of bean curd skin is too salty. If so, give it a rinse over running water and lay them flat on a lint-free kitchen towel. Leave till mostly dried but still slightly damp and pliable.
- Cut each large sheet into 3 strips of roughly equal size (appx 9×4 inch). Then divide the filling into 6 equal portions. Prepare your cornstarch slurry by mixing the cornflour with water.
- Place one portion of filling on the shorter width of the bean curd skin, shaping it into a log.
- Give it one roll, tuck in the sides and continue rolling to the end. Seal the seams with some cornstarch slurry.
- Once rolls are done, heat up oil in a frying pan on medium high.
- Fry rolls, turning them on all sides to get even browning – about 10-15 minutes.
- Leave to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Serve with your favourite chilli sauce!