Ushering Chinese New Year II: Ngoh Hiang

Ngoh Hiang (五香) has and will always have a special place in my heart.

It may seem like an ordinary spiced pork roll wrapped in dried beancurd skin – something that is available commercially everyday of the year.

To me, ngoh hiang is something I associate with Chinese New Year just because my grandma takes on this tedious task of making these every year during this period. And it is the BEST-tasting  ngoh hiang to me for it encapsulates many of my fondest childhood memories.  Ask my sis or my cousins, and they will tell you that our grandma’s ngoh hiang is simply the best. Such is the power of childhood memories.

I remember spending hours in the kitchen watching and sometimes helping (or disrupting, in my grandma’s opinion) my grandma make and roll out the ngoh hiang. Since she is a perfectionist, she gets frustrated that my ngoh hiang is not up to her standard – I’ve got to admit that when I was young, I was just having my bit of fun in the kitchen and I never took learning seriously. My rolls often end up in the ‘test batch’ as they came in  different shapes and sizes and sometimes not wrapped tightly enough. Sometimes if I ‘spoil’ too many ngoh hiangs, she would ban me from touching the rest of them.

This year, I took on a more active role in my grandma’s yearly ngoh hiang-making endeavor – helping her from the chopping of the ingredients to the wrapping of the ngoh hiang.  That’s because she now has more trust in my ngoh hiang now that I’ve proven my skills worthy in her kitchen.

Ngoh hiang is a Singaporean dish, and is popular with the Hokkien and Teow Chew dialect group. Its name translates to “five spices”, which is the main flavour profile of these rolls since they are spiced with Chinese five spice powder (grounded mixture of cloves, cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns).

I’m sure that many Chinese families in Singapore has their own version of the ngoh hiang and my family is no different. Our recipe is no longer traditional but has evolved over the years from the additions of different ingredients – we use minced pork for the base, prawns for the sweetness and texture, water chestnuts and turnip for the moistness and crunch, spring onions for the flavour and colour, and dried shiitake mushrooms for the woody flavour. Feel free to tweak and experiment with the proportion of ingredients to your preference – that’s the beauty of ngoh hiang making.

As I take a bite of the freshly fried ngoh hiang, I am transported back to the days of my childhood where I would hide in the living room eating a couple of freshly fried ngoh hiang before my extended family arrives for reunion dinner.

Every bite is just as beautiful as it is precious.

Happy Lunar New Year and have a prosperous year ahead! Load up on the ngoh hiangs and pineapple tarts before Chinese New Year festivities are over!


Recipe: Ngoh Hiang
Makes 25 medium rolls


1 kg minced pork
600g prawns, deshelled and chopped
150g turnip, diced
150g water chestnuts, diced
10 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in water and chopped
A bunch of spring onions, diced
Salt and white pepper, to taste
1.5 tsp five spice powder
Soya sauce, to taste
3 tbsp Cornflour
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
Two dashes of water

To wrap:
Dried beancurd skin
2 Egg whites

1. Mix in the minced pork, chopped prawns, water chestnuts, turnips, mushrooms and spring onions.
2. Season it to taste and add the whisked eggs and cornflour. Combine till even.
3. Add in a dash or two of water to the final mixture to loosen it up.

To wrap ngoh hiang:
1. Prepare the dried beancurd skin by cutting them into equal lengths.
2. Put the minced meat mixture onto the centre of the beancurd skin.
3. Dip your finger into the egg white wash and the sides of the beancurd skin. Wrap and roll and secure the sides so that the filling will not spill out while frying.
4. Steam the wrapped rolls for about 8-10 minutes. At this point, you can choose to refrigerate or freeze the rolls until you are ready to fry and eat them.
5. Deep fry the rolls in a wok of hot oil. Make sure that the oil is enough o cover the rolls. Deep fry them in batches until golden brown.
6. They are now ready to be served.

About jothetartqueen

My first love is eating. A very close second is my love for baking and cooking. I passionately believe that the best form of appreciation of something is almost always through the creation of it. This passion took me on a whirlwind, unforgettable ride through the patisserie diploma course at Le Cordon Bleu (Sydney). Join me on my discovery for the love of food – through the kitchen, through the markets, through experimenting, tasting and loving.
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14 Responses to Ushering Chinese New Year II: Ngoh Hiang

  1. pattyabr says:

    bean curd skin- I guess I would have to go to an Asian market to get that. it looks much thinner than wonton wrappers. Nice pics and Happy Chinese New Year!

    • Yup am sure you can find it at an Asian supermarket. It’s thinner than wanton skin, a sort of puffy texture when fried and it has a slightly salty taste on it’s own unlike wanton skin. 😉

  2. It actually made me smile when you said “it may seem like an ordinary spiced pork roll wrapped in dried beancurd skin” because to me that’s not ordinary at all 😛 Sounds very yummy though! Your blog always makes me wish I grew up with some sort of Asian heritage, as I don’t think I would be able to learn to cook those dishes from scratch now. It would be a challange just to try and find all the ingredients actually! 😛

  3. These are wonderful and their golden colour would definitely bring wonderful fortune to those that eat it-because they look delicious! Happy Chinese New Year Jo! 😀

  4. Looks so yummy and familiar too. My mum always make them for CNY too, it was too bad i dislike the tedious part so dont bother to learn. We call it Chun Gen ( not sure if it is a right spelling), mum add grated carrot in her recipe and during the old days she use a kind of pork ft tissue whick look like thick spider web to wrap the pork, however it was getting harder to find the fat tissue so she substitute with beancurd skin.

  5. Hi I include Ngoh Hiang in my Bento (got few rolls from mum), but I am not ready to post the Ngoh Hiang recipe yet (as mentioned above, too lazy to make them), is it ok if I recommend and link my post back to you for recipe and how to?

  6. It sounds great in a bento! Sure pls go ahead to link to my recipe. =))

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