The Straits Times | Food Picks: Pork satay, kushiyaki, ngoh hiang and pies
ST Photo: Tan Hsueh Yun
Life is too short for bad food. And I often look to friends whose palates I trust to steer me in the direction of food that's worth eating. When two of them rave about Cai's ngoh hiang, well, I just have to try it.
Three siblings - Irwin, Amanda and Charmaine Chua - are behind the business, and they have successfully come up with a recipe that combines the best of the ngoh hiang their grandmothers make. I also love how obsessively neat the finger-sized meat rolls are, and gasp with delight when I open the boxes.
Now, the traditional way is to deep fry the rolls, which are already steamed before being frozen. I cannot bear the thought, so I place them on a foil-lined tray and stick that in my toaster oven. The rolls get beautifully brown that way, and clean-up is a breeze. More importantly, I taste the rolls, not oil.
The Original Pork & Prawn Ngoh Hiang ($25 for 20 rolls) is delicious, and I love how the chunks of water chestnut add texture, and how pungent Chinese celery adds funk. Dip the rolls in Cai's Sambal Belacan ($10 for a 180g jar). It is spicy, but I would like more belacan in it.
The Mala Pork & Prawn Ngoh Hiang ($26 for 20 rolls) needs no sauces. It is perfect eaten with asbestos fingers right out of the toaster oven. That numbing, tingly vibe infuses each roll but they are not blow-your-head-off hot.
Nuance is everything.
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