8 DAYS | 11 Ngoh Hiangs From Home-Based Businesses To Try This Chinese New Year
Enjoy home-made ngoh hiang without doing the work. Find out which are our faves.
By Chin Chih Lin, 8 DAYS on 15 January 2021
Additional reporting by Florence Fong
Among all the typically extravagant Lunar New Year dishes, the humble ngoh hiang is one of our favourites. Believed to have originated in Fujian, China, these crispy rolls were an ingenious way of making the most of leftovers — home cooks would mix excess meat and vegetables with five-spice powder and wrap the fillings in beancurd skin before steaming and deep-frying to extend the shelf life of these yummy rolls.
A boom in home-based businesses selling ngoh hiang
We aren’t exactly sure why there’s been a surge in home-based businesses selling ngoh hiang since the pandemic (we counted at least two dozen of them when doing research for this article). Most of the owners on our list launched their businesses around last July, while Mum’s Ngoh Hiang was one of the earliest to start operating in May.
Several owners told us that their customers disliked the ‘gluey’ and ‘pasty’ texture of mass-produced ngoh hiang and were happy to support the homemade versions instead. The deceptively simple rolls require sophisticated culinary technique with contrasting textures and seasoning to create an addictive snack that is much more than the sum of its parts. It’s painstaking work.
We also think its popularity is linked to scarcity — and the desire for home-cooked comfort food to stave off the blues that come with an unprecedented pandemic. Before the recent boom, many of us only get to enjoy homemade ngoh hiang that our mums and grandmas prepare during CNY or special meals, but with home-based businesses offering these labour-intensive treats on demand, of course customers will bite. We’ve chosen to feature 11 of the more popular HBB offering this deep-fried treat, and we tell you which are our faves.
CAI NGOH HIANG & SAMBAL (8 DAYS Pick!)
Previously featured in our Christmas HBB list, Cai Ngoh Hiang & Sambal is run by siblings Amanda, 32, Irwin, 28, and Charmaine, 22, who came together to work full-time on expanding their HBB since last year’s Circuit Breaker. Their signature dish uses a recipe from their late granny.
Their plan has worked beautifully, as the trio has shared that they will be opening a takeout store next month (the location will be announced at a later date).
Pork & Prawn Ngoh Hiang, $25 for 20 pcs
Made from minced pork, prawn, water chestnuts and spring onions, this homely, neatly-packed ngoh hiang is robustly marinated and we thoroughly enjoyed the freshness and flavour of all its ingredients. They are bite-sized and nicely textured too. Get this over the slightly mushier Mala-flavoured ones. The rolls are steamed, then frozen before delivery – you can either fry them in a pan or bake in a toaster oven to get them hot and crispy.
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