Thursday, September 3, 2009
Peekaboo! What is this my daughter is holding up? Guess.
If you guessed dried beancurd skin, you are right! And what might we be using it for? Why, Teochew-Style Ngoh Hiang! You see, food does make the world go round. Thanks to this blog, I receive lovely emails from complete strangers regularly.
One reader, S from Perth, wrote to me recently. She wanted to know if I had a recipe for the traditional Teochew-Style Ngoh Hiang (prawn/pork rolls), the type with yam in it. I wrote back and promised her to keep a lookout for it ... so, here it is.
I always remember eating this style of Ngoh Hiang when I was young, at Teochew restaurants. From my understanding, not many people know how to make them (the Hokkien Ngoh Hiang is more commonly eaten here), so I asked my friends - especially those with aged parents who cook - and struck gold when my good friend, SY, told me that her mum makes delicious Teochew Ngoh Hiangs every Chinese New Year.
Within 2 days, I fixed up an appointment with her mum ... let's call her Nice Mrs Tan. I drove her to my home, straight into my kitchen and learned from the master, one-on-one. In total, she taught me 3 dishes, which translated to 6 hours in the kitchen! I spoke more (broken) Teochew in those 6 hours than in my entire life put together.
(Courtesy of Nice Mrs Tan)
For Step 1
- 400g shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 medium sized yam, peeled and sliced thinly
- 2 rice bowls vegetable oil
For Step 2
- 1 kg pork belly (minced)
- 500g water chestnuts, peeled and chopped
- 500g fresh prawns, shelled and deveined, then smashed using the back of the cleaver, then chopped finely
- 1 large sheet beancurd skin, wiped with a slightly damp cloth, then cut into small rectangular pieces
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 chicken stock cube
- 1/2 to 1 tbsp white pepper (or more, if you so desire)
- 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp dark soya sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp shallot oil (the oil used for frying the shallots in Step 1)
- Chopped liver (if you so desire, but I hate liver! No liver in my rolls!)
For Step 3
- Plain flour, small quantity
- 1 egg (lightly beaten)
Steam yam slices for 10mins (or until tender).
(Left) Raw yam slices. (Right) Cooked yam after steaming. Mash the cooked yam with the back of your fork. If you find some parts which are still hard, discard those. Leave to cool on a flat plate or tray.
Peel and slice shallots thinly. You must be wondering why I have a tealight in the kitchen. Well, if you place a candle near the shallots (or onions) that you are cutting, you will not tear. I have found this to be true when I am cooking something on my stove at the same time. The heat will burn away the shallot fumes.
On a separate note, just look at these gorgeous shallots! I get my shallots from this lovely makcik at the market. Her shallots are twice the cost of the ones sold at supermarkets, but their colour and aroma are worth every extra cent.
Fry shallots in oil (about 2 rice bowls) until fragrant and golden brown. Add salt only when you are just about to ladle out the shallots. This way, the shallots will be crispy.
Drain the shallots of oil and let them cool on a flat plate. Do not discard the oil. It is liquid gold. Tip: keep it as a drizzle for any soupy or steamed dishes. They instantly wake up the flavours.
Put all the ingredients for Step 2 into a large pot. Add fried shallots and yam, and mix thoroughly using your hands. Drizzle in shallot oil.
This is how the final mixture should look ... a little sticky. If you are using chicken, make sure you add just a little more beaten egg, since chicken has the tendency to be drier.
Wipe beancurd skin with a slightly damp cloth to remove the excess salt. Cut the skin into even sized rectangular sheets.
Spoon meat mixture onto each sheet and wrap tightly. Like a maki. Wrap all the way and then leave the roll seam side down. You do not need to tuck in both ends. They will "wilt" and close on their own during steaming.
After all the rolling is completed, heat up your steamer. While waiting for it to heat up, brush all the rolls with a little vegetable oil, so that they don't stick to the surface of the steamer.
Place Ngoh Hiang Rolls into the steamer and cook for about 10-12mins. Leave them to cool. At this stage, you can pack some into containers and freeze them for later consumption.
Once cooled, slice them diagonally with a very sharp knife, into medium sized chunks.
Dip both "exposed" sides of each chunk into egg, then lightly in flour to seal everything. Drop each piece into a wok of heated oil. Deep fry till golden brown. Drain excess oil and serve with Sweet Flour Sauce.
Crispy on the outside, juicy and creamy on the inside.
And there you have it, from Nice Mrs Tan's kitchen to mine, and now to yours. I hope you'll all like this Teochew dish. I certainly did :)
For my other posts on (Hokkien) Ngoh Hiang, click here and here.