This post is sharing the Chinese version of meat rolls or Ngoh Hiang. It is different from the meat roll in Western cuisines such as the Italian meat rolls. Usually, minced meat (usually pork) and prawns were used and wrapped in a dry bean curd sheet.
Meat roll is an extremely popular dish for Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese households. The number of recipes available are the same with the numbers of Chinese grandmothers meaning every household have their unique recipe and all claims that theirs is the best. Depending on the dialect groups, meat rolls can be also be called ngoh hiang (five spices or 五香) or lok bak （卤肉）or hay g’ng (虾卷）
This recipe of mine, again is based on my recollection of what my late mother have prepared and the various meat rolls that I have tasted throughout the years. I have purposely prepared this meat roll for the noodle dish Lor Mee, a common Hokkien dish in Penang.
Usually, we prepared more meat rolls than required and stored in the refrigerators. When we wanted to serve the meat rolls, we will re-heat it. Chinese meat rolls traditionally are commonly prepared for religious ceremonies or important house gatherings. The process of preparation can be slightly laborious and usually ladies in the house were called to help with the preparation.
MEAT ROLLS OR NGOH HIANG DEFINED
As per Wikipedia:
Ngo hiang (Chinese: 五香; pinyin: wǔxiāng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ngó͘-hiong), also known as heh gerng (Chinese: 虾卷; pinyin: xiājuàn; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: hê-kǹg) or lor bak (Chinese: 五香滷肉; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ngó͘-hiong-ló͘-bah) is a unique Hokkien and Teochew dish served in many of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore’s hawker centres and in Cebú in the Philippines, in addition to its place of origin in eastern China. In parts of Malaysia the dish is known as loh bak or lor bak.
It is essentially a composition of various meats and vegetables and other ingredients, such as a sausage-esque roll consisting of minced pork and prawn (or fish) seasoned with five-spice powder (Hokkien: 五香粉, ngó͘-hiong-hún) after which it is named, rolled inside a beancurd skin and deep-fried, lup cheong, cucumber, century egg, ginger, deep-fried egg, deep-fried beancurd, fishball and many others. It is usually served with chili sauce and a house-special sweet sauce. Many stalls in Singaporean food courts and hawker centres sell fried bee hoon with ngo hiang; this combination is common for breakfast and lunch. In Indonesia, people enjoy ngo hiang with sambal sauce. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ngo_hiang)
WHAT IS REQUIRED
1 kg of minced meat – In this illustration, I have used minced pork. However, minced chicken breast can also be used.
250 g of prawns cut into small chunks – you can also mince the prawns. I have opted to use chunked prawns instead of minced prawns as I would like to have some prawns being seen in my meat rolls.
200 g of fish paste (optional). I have used this to enhance the seafood fragrance and improve the binding properties of all materials inside the meat rolls.
4-5 spring onions chopped into small pieces
1 big onion chopped into small pieces
10 water chestnuts peeled and cut into small pieces. The purpose of water chestnuts is to let the meat rolls have some feel of crunchiness when eaten.
- half cup of corn flour – purpose is to enhance the springiness of the meat roll;
- 1 cup of wheat flour – purpose is to enhance the stickiness of the ingredients. Without wheat flour, the meat rolls can be rather loose.
- 1 egg – purpose to increase the stickiness, binding and fragrance of the meat rolls.
- 1 tablespoon of salt to taste
- 3 tablespoons of light soya sauce
- 2 teaspoons of five spices powder (optional). Though the name is called Ngoh Hiang (five spices), my family seldom put these spices as our family members do not really like the aroma. However, most of the meat rolls that I have tasted do put these spices.
- 2 tablespoons of sesame oils
- 5 teaspoons of white pepper
- 5 tablespoons of granulated sugar
- 12 sheets of bean curd sheets of 6 inches x 6 inches big
STEPS OF PREPARATION
Mixing the ingredients…….
In a big mixing bowl, place all ingredients together. Use a big spoon to stir until all ingredients are well mixed. As some of the ingredients can be very fine (such as five spice powders, white peppers and etc.), you can also add the ingredients in stages if you find that it is difficult to mix well by putting all the ingredients all at once.
The final picture is the well mixed minced meats and it is considered as well mixed when the colour is even and consistent. The minced meat can be rather sticky due to the addition of egg and wheat flour.
Rolling the minced meats…
In a flat surface, place a dried bean curd sheet. Use a wet hand to lightly pat the bean curd sheets. The purpose is to make it more flexible as too dry the bean curd sheets can be easily broken.
Placed about 150 grams of minced meats on top of the dry bean curd sheets.
Make a small roll, fold in the sides, used some of the minced meats or water to apply to the sides and corners of the bean curd sheets. Roll the minced meat until the end of the bean curd sheets. With the minced meat or water at the sides, it will help to bind the bean curd sheets together.
ROLLING SHALL BE AS TIGHT AS POSSIBLE SUCH THAT YOU HAVE A SPRINGY TEXTURE. Loosely wrapped meat rolls will provide very airy texture you may not be able to enjoy.
If you runs out of bean curd sheets, you can shape the remaining into a ball and deep frying it. Please refer to the section below “When you runs of bean curd sheets”.
Steaming the meat rolls….
In a steamer, place some water and bring to boil.
Transfer the meat rolls to the steamer and steamed for 15 minutes. Use a skewer/toothpick to penetrate one of the rolls and ensure that the skewer/toothpick comes out clean.
Deep frying the meat rolls……..
This step will involve frying the meat rolls. However, if you do not want the meat roll to be deep fried, you can also served it after steaming by cutting into small slices. Traditional ways of preparation will require the meat rolls to be deep fried such that the bean curd sheets will become crispy and golden brown.
In a deep pot, have some oil until smoking hot. As a test of whether the oil is adequately hot for frying, place a wooden chopstick into the hot oil. If bubbles start to come out, it means that oil is ready for frying.
Place the meat rolls into the hot oil and deep fried until golden brown. Note that as the whole roll is already cooked, therefore the purpose of this step is just to ensure that bean curd sheets are crispy and the color is golden brown, therefore, the timing of the deep frying is rather fast usually less than 5 minutes.
Take out the meat rolls and place it in a plate with an oil absorbing paper on the plate.
Cut into small pieces when serving. Condiments can include sweet chilli sauce or plum sauce.
What would happens if you runs out of bean curd sheets….
It is rather difficult to estimate the exact quantity of bean curd sheets that you need. At times, you may run of bean curd sheets as not all rolls are of the same sizes. In that case, you can shape the minced meats into small balls and roll it in the biscuit crumbs before deep frying (steps as above).
- Have some biscuits and grind it as fine as possible. Add some corn flour to the biscuit crumbs.
Shaped the minced meats into small balls and roll the balls in the biscuit crumbs.
Placed in the hot oil until the skin of the balls turns golden brown. Take out and place in an oil absorbing paper.
Meat rolls are a common household dish among Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese. There are many recipes and each family will claim their is the best. Making meat rolls can be laborious but the moment you put it in your mouth, the taste is worth every efforts preparing it. Meat rolls are usually prepared for religious ceremonies and is served in restaurants as one of the cold dish. It is also used for noodle dishes such as lor mee. A detail post on the preparation of lor mee will be released soon. Preparation of lor mee will require the use of these meat rolls and meat balls as the ingredients.
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