Hey, This is not Italian Meat Rolls, It Is Chinese Meat Rolls Called Ngoh Hiang

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INTRODUCTION

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

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  • 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.

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  • 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 and fragrance of the meat rolls.
  • 1 tablespoon of salt 
  • 3 tablespoons of light soya sauce to taste
  • 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…….

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  • 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…

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  • 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.
  • 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….


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  • 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.

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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.

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  • 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.

 


 

 

 

 

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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).

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  • 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.

 


CONCLUSIONS

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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Hope you LIKE the post to day. Have a nice day and cheers.

 

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Prawn noodles? Hokkien noodles?… No, it is Singapore Hokkien Fried Prawn Noodles (新加玻福建炒虾面)

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INTRODUCTION

The title of this dish will have to be very exact! It should be called “Singapore Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodles” or “Singapore Hokkien Hay Noodles”.

Singapore has to be included because it is uniquely Singapore and you can’t find elsewhere, not even in Malaysia.

The word “Fried” have to be used because it had to differentiate the Penang prawn noodles which is a soup based noodles as explained below.

Hokkien” have to be included because “prawn mee” alone can mean the soup version of prawn mee famous in Penang whereby you used the prawn broth and to make the soup and usually served with watercress (kangkong), pork ribs and blanched prawns.

   Pic courtesy of : http://kaka-penang-prawn-mee.blogspot.sg/p/prawn-mee.html

Omitting the prawns and Singapore will become Hokkien Mee, and it can refer to another type of noodle dish that was commonly eaten in Kuala Lumpur usually fried with black sauce, cabbages, prawns and pork.

  Pic courtesy of:  http://ieatishootipost.sg/2011/07/restoran-ahwa-kl-hokkien-mee-in.html

Today’s post is about Singapore Hokkien Fried Prawn Noodles which shall look like this:

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Readers who wanted to have a more detailed distinction of various prawn noodles can refer to the explanation here.


PRAWN NOODLES DEFINED

Wikipedia defines:

Hokkien mee refers to fried noodles cooked in Hokkien (Fujian) style. Hokkien mee is served in many Southeast Asian countries (mostly Malaysia and Singapore) and was brought there by immigrants from the Fujian province in south easternChina. In Singapore, Hokkien mee refers to a variant of the Penang version of Hokkien hay mee. The dish uses the same egg noodles and rice noodles used in Hokkien hay mee, but is stir fried in lard and served dry. The main ingredients are shrimps and small pieces of sliced pork. It is usually served with lime and sambalchilli.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hokkien_mee)

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WHAT IS NEEDED?

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  • Half kilogram of prawns – Wash clean, pluck the head and set aside. Keep the heads for making prawn stock. You can consider collecting raw prawn heads from cooking other dishes and keep it until a sizeable amount and start to make the prawn broth. (If desired, sotong or squids can be added in addition to prawns)
  • 400 grams of pork belly cut into thin slices (optional, can be substituted with chicken slices)
  • 5-10 large fish balls or fish cakes cut into slices
  • 4 eggs – beaten and set aside

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  • 300 g of bean sprouts – wash and set aside
  • 300 g of Chinese chives – cut into 1 inch length and set asides
  • 3 small onions cut into small slices and some chopped spring onion (optional). You can consider adding in chopped garlics as well.

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  • Some yellow noodles (300g) and some rice vermicelli (about 150 g)
  • Some calamansi for garnishing
  • Some sambal belachan to use as condiments

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing the prawn stock……

The success of this dish is very much depending on the prawn broth. The prawn broth should be thick, no fishy and tasty. Generally, you may wish to keep all the prawn heads from the meals that you have prepared previously. The more prawn head you have the better will your broth be.

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  • In a pot, place some water with 2 spring onions and some ginger slices. The purpose of adding these is to get rid of the fishy smell associated with the prawns.
  • Bring the water to boil under high heat, add prawn heads and shells and boiled until the prawn heads are cooked. This is rather fast and needs may be less than 5 minutes.

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  • Sieve and transfer all prawn shells to a food processor.
  • Blend the prawn shells until fine or small chunks. Place it back into the earlier prawn stocks
  • Boil for about 30 minutes under medium heat.
  • Sieve and the prawn stock are ready for next use.

Cooking the noodles….

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  • In a hot frying pan, put some cooking oil. Throw in the chopped shallots, spring onion and fried until golden brown. It is my practice that I add salt and white pepper at this juncture. Essentially, salt will increase the temperature for frying and pepper that were fried will emit a better aroma;
  • Place the ingredients in this order. Pork belly, fish balls, chives. Fried for about 3 minutes until all the ingredients are well mixed. It is ok if the meat is not cooked as it will continue to cook in later processes.
  • Note: Traditionally, lard is used for cooking this dish, however, due to health reasons, vegetable cooking oil were used instead of lard. Of course, there will be a compromise in taste but the taste difference wouldn’t be that obvious.

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  • Sieve the prawn stock into the pan and let it boiled for 1-2 minutes.
  • Throw in the yellow noodles and rice vermicelli and let it cook for another 3 minutes.

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  • Add bean sprout and beaten eggs to the pan. The beaten eggs will serve as a thickener to the noodles gravy and add an additional fragrance.
  • Add additional seasonings if necessary (fish sauce, mushrooms concentrate, white pepper etc.… ) and mixed well.
  • Boiled for another 2 minutes and let it rest in the frying pan for another 10 minutes before serving. This will let the prawn stock have adequate time to penetrate the noodles and rice vermicelli. Note that the noodles and rice vermicelli will expand. Should you find that there is too dry, just add in some hot water and stir to make it slightly watery.

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  • Sprinkle with deep fried onion  and chopped spring onion or Chinese celery.
  • Usually served in a plate with lime and Sambal Belachan.

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CONCLUSION

  • Singapore Hokkien Prawn Noodles are unique in Singapore and should not be confused with Penang Prawn Noodles and Kuala Lumpur Hokkien Noodles.
  • Using the prawn heads to make prawn stock is a good way of maximizing the recovery of the prawns. Save the prawn heads from other dishes, make the prawn stocks and used it to cook the noodles. This will be very tasty and not much seasonings were needed. Chicken bones can be  added to make it a much tastier broth. Traditionally, lard is used for the dish but this is not encouraging because it may cause coronary complications. 
  • The noodles cooked should be soft and moist with a fragrance of meat (pork or chicken) and prawns. The lime makes the dish slightly sour and adding chili will bring the taste to another higher level of enjoyment!

Lastly, hope you LIKE this sharing and do try to make the dish and let me know whether it suit your taste buds.

Have a nice day. Cheers.

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Is there any relationship between Dragon in a boat and a Peranakan Women?….The process of making Nonya Chang revisited…(Part I)

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BACKGROUND INTRODUCTION

Rice dumpling or “Chang” is one of the traditional delicacies that are well loved by the Malaysian Chinese and Singaporean Chinese communities. However, nowadays, most families do not really wrap their own dumplings at home. They will buy the Chang in shops, restaurants or even supermarkets.

The price of the Chang will gradually be pushed upwards by another 100% by the date of  the Rice Dumplings Festival (or Dragon Boat Festival or Duan Wu Jie 端午节). Two weeks before the Rice Dumpling Festivals, assuming the price per rice dumpling is SGD 1.50 before the increase, the seller will increase 10cents per day and it will become to SGD2.90 by the time of Festival. This price is grossly underestimated and actual prices can be in the range of SGD3-4 per rice dumpling from a more reputable shop to SGD 5-6 from posh restaurants.

 

WHY SUCH A HIGH PRICE PREMIUM FOR THE CHANG?

It was a sad fact that peoples of my age are not really keen to make the chang themselves. Chang was able to command a high price premium because of the basic economic laws of demand and supply. There are lots of demands for Chang especially near the Rice Dumpling festival. However, supplies were limited to a few Chang shops since most families are not willing to prepare their own Chang.

The next question will be to understand why families did not consider to wrap their own Chang? In my humble opinion, most people do not wish to prepare their own Chang due to the following factors and beliefs which personally, I think are misconceptions concerning Chang making:

  • It is time consuming to make the Chang (see below) as traditional ways of making Chang needs at least 1-2 days;
  • It is difficult to assemble all the ingredients;
  • It is very “challenging” to wrap the Chang as tying of ropes and shaping of Chang need times to acquire such skills;
  • Families are small eaters, they just want to eat one to two Chang and unlike traditionally, most families need lots of Chang for the praying sessions;
  • Lack of economies of scales if they only wrapped say 10-12 Chang and it is more worthwhile to purchase from outside stores;
  • The increase of household disposal income over the years and the price of Chang is just a small portion of their income.

Due to above the reasons, most families are not willing to wrap the Chang! 

 

TRADITIONAL WAYS OF CHANG PREPARATION

Traditional preparation of Chang can be a laborious process. All ladies in the family were called to help with the preparation. In fact,  families and extended families (aunt) or even neighbors may agreed on one day to prepare the Chang together. They will take 1 day for the preparation of the filing and another day for the wrapping and cooking of Chang.

The first day will usually involve the cleaning of the leaves for wrapping, soaking of glutinous rice, the dicing of meats, mushrooms and other ingredients and frying the filings for next day’s wrapping. Early in the morning (may be 4-5 am) in the morning, the wrapping will begin and  when a bunch of Chang is ready (about 20-30 Chang depending on your pot for boiling), the boiling or cooking of Chang begins This will take another 2-3 hours per bunch depending on the size of the Chang. By noon, usually, all Chang will be wrapped and all Chang will be cooked by 4pm – 5pm in the afternoon. The ladies will share the results of  their hard works (Chang) between themselves and bring their portion back to their respective families. Traditionally, they are using big biscuits tin and boil under a kerosene stove. The tin is specially made fro this purpose only.

Don’t you think so after the Chang preparation, the ladies in each families shall be closer to each other due to the need of communications. I would deemed this as a family gathering or family “unity” exercise!

                                 

pic courtesy of :http://nyonyacake.blogspot.sg/                   pic courtesy of: http://www.whatsonxiamen.com

 

REASONS OF MAKING YOUR OWN “CHANG”

Learning how to wrap the Chang is definitely something that I would like to promote among the younger generations. With the various kitchen equipment and aids, the process of preparing the Chang can be shortened considerably and I hope readers will try the short cut method that I will share with you in Part II.

The benefits of wrapping your own Chang are:

  • huge cost savings
  • more varieties of Chang can be prepared and easily tailored to the taste or special diet considerations of your family members;
  • as a gift to relatives and friends.


CHANG DEFINED

“Zongzi (or simply zong) (Chinese: ) is a traditional Chinese food, made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo, reed, or other large flat leaves. They are cooked by steaming or boiling. In the Western world, they are also known as rice dumplings or sticky rice dumplings.

Laotians, Thais, (who call them Bachang) and Cambodians (who call them nom chang) have also assimilated this dish by borrowing it from the local overseas Chinese minorities in their respective nations. In Indonesia and Malaysia, they are known as bakcang, bacang, or zang (Chinese: 肉粽; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: bah-chàng), a loanword from Hokkien, a Chinese dialect commonly used among Indonesian-Chinese, rather than Mandarin. Along the same lines, zongzi are more popularly known as machang among Chinese Filipinos in the Philippines.”

(SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zongzi)

Therefore, in according to the simple definition, the must have of Chang is glutinous rice and some types of fillings (though there are Changs that don’t have fillings like Kee Chang).

 

Type of Chang

Fillings of Chang

Every regions or Chinese dialects group will have their own versions of Chang. As economy are more and more affluence, the fillings were change over the years. The following 2 pictures shows Chang will a few types of fillings.

IMG_4356   Chang with meat type of fillings. Can you spot an abalone and chili padi in the filings.

 IMG_4357 Chang which is bean based or no fillings at all

Shape of Chang

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You can see there are many shapes of Chang and one of them is called the Pillow Chang. But the basic shape is the triangular shaped Chang. Have you ever seen a cone shaped Chang as shown in the last picture?

Therefore, one can conclude that Chang can have many shapes and fillings and I would not insist whose Chang is genuine and whose is fake. What can be included or what cannot to be included in the Chang.


NONYA CHANG DEFINED

“Nyonya zong (娘惹粽): A specialty of Peranakan cuisine, these zongzi are made similarly as southern zongzi. However, the filling is typically minced pork with candied winter melon, ground roasted peanuts and a spice mix.”

(SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zongzi)

 

Nonya Chang belongs to the cuisine of Peranakan communities in Singapore and Malaysia. Peranakans are descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Indonesia and Singapore, inter-marrying with local Malays. The old Malay word nonya (also spelled nyonya), a term of respect and affection for women of prominent social standing (part “madame” and part “auntie”), has come to refer to the cuisine of the Perakanans. Nonya cooking is the result of blending Chinese ingredients with spices and cooking techniques used by the Malay/Indonesian community.

The nonya Chang is also “pua kiam ti” (半咸甜粽)meaning the Chang is both sweet and salty at the same time. It is different from the Chang is Taiwan or China which are called Kiam Bak Chang (咸肉粽)。

Nonya Chang are generally accepted by all Chinese Dialects group in Singapore and Malaysia. What differentiates  a Nonya Chang and other Chang are summarize as follows:

1. The usage of coriander powder and aniseed powder in the preparation both of which were considered as Middle Eastern spice widely used by the Malay communities;

2. The inclusion of candied winter melon to make the Chang sweet and that is where the sweet components come from. This obviously is under the influence of the Chinese culture where candied winter melon are widely used in its desserts and believed to have some cooling effects;

3. The usage of screw pine leaves for the wrapping (Pandanus) as compared to the bamboo leaves generally used in other Chang. This is another indication of localization of Nonya Chang since screw pine leaves are not available in China;

4. The usage of other nonya coloring such as the pea flower to color part the Chang into blue or indigo, but part of the rice are still white or light brownish in color as compared to the dark brown color of rice in the Kiam Bak Chang.

5. The inclusion of “sambal” in the fillings and this usually comprises of minced dry shrimps cooked with numerous types Malay spices.

I hoped that via this explanation, you can draw your own conclusions as to what are the characteristics of Nonya Chang and understand why it is call “half sweet half salty’ Chang.

 

Nyonya chang         

In the above picture, please note that the usage of reed strings, Pandanus leaves, diced or minced type of fillings, blue color of rice, brown dot in the white colored rice (coriander powder), all these are rather typical of a Nonya Chang.

CONCLUSION

The fact that most families are not willing to make their own Chang is understandable and one of the main reasons is the laborious process involved. However, such process can be shortened and I will share with your the simplified steps to make “my” own version of Nonya Chang.  Though my mother in law cannot agree with my process of preparation saying that I am lazy but she never complain about the ‘”qualities” of the “final products”.

Hopefully, this post will give you another perspective of understand Chang and “design your own Chang”. In Part II, I will share with you the details process in making the Chang.

Thank for reading.