Singapore Ngoh Hiang Recipe – Mother’s Day Tribute to My Mum


Shot on an antique round marble table my mum inherited from an old friend.

This recipe post is a tribute to my awesome mother who gave up her youth and adventures for a life of housewivery mothering 3 kids. There was always freshly made food on the table, breakfast, lunch, tea snacks, kueh kueh, dinner, supper, soups, desserts, fruit platters – she tirelessly fed us homemade goodness every waking hour. I grew up watching my mother slaughter chickens (she used to hate doing it, slitting their throat and watching them struggle), kill crabs by using the motar pounding tool to knock a chopstick into the heart of the crab and I cleaned out the lungs – those fluffy things she explained worked like aircon filters – beautiful way describe that to an 8 year old.

I miss the delicious smells that permeate our open kitchen in Serangoon Gardens and how curries were always made with freshly grated coconut, put in a cloth bag and fragrant milk and juice wrung out of it.

Note the classic floral table clothes in the background. My mum loves flowers and while I used to think they were jarringly ugly, I kind of appreciate the vintage charm of them now. Loving the mismatched old saucers from the 1970s – the same patterned ones I find in Macau’s vintage stores chipped and full of character, filled I’m sure with so many bygone food memories.

ngor hiang motar

Ngoh hiang (Ngor hiang, Ngo hiang spelt various ways) (Chinese: 五香; pinyin: wǔxiāng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ngó͘-hiong) is a hokkien dish she made often and we loved, served alongside a generous amount of kechap manis (sweet black sauce in malay made from red dates/jujubes).

Here’s her recipe. Go easy on the crushed biscuits as they were used as fillers because meat was expensive, but it also indirectly adds a texture to the 5 spice meat rolled in beancurd skin. The star of the mix is really the water chestnuts, you get the crunchy sweetness and flavour mixed in with the well seasoned minced meat.

500g minced pork
prawns, cooked and shelled
15-20 sheets of beancurd skin
carrots (grated)
Diced water chestnuts
Five spices powder
Shaoxing rice wine
Oyster sauce
corn flour
cream cracker crusty bits (for texture)

season the minced pork with oyster sauce, shaoxing rice wine, salt, pepper, a sprinkle of corn flour. throw in the grated carrots and diced chestnuts to marinate overnight.

singapore mum recipe ngor hiang


ngor hiang singapore recipe juliana loh

Then carefully spread them on a sheet on bean curd skin and roll them up. My mother’s rule is to steam the rolls in a steamer pot until you smell the fragrant spices. Turn off the fire, allow the rolls to cool before deep frying. Keep the rest in the fridge and deep fry the rolls when you next want to indulge.

ngor hiang ingredients

steam ngor hiang


  1. Alex
    May 12, 2013 @ 01:35:13

    Just made this myself as well. U need to have Chinese shiitake mushrooms and I feel (maybe a Cantonese thing) a bit of oyster sauce and sesame oil unto the pork helps to bring out the sweetness, curiously, it tastes best with the Indonesian kneecap manis instead of the Chinese dark sweet soy!


  2. bilbaobab
    May 12, 2013 @ 03:27:16

    yup that’s the classic cantonese marinate! haha i do that for wantons and also for steamed mince meat, but my mum says for this, do NOT use that basic foundation marinate because it takes away the 5 spice flavours that you want to stand out and you want the water chestnuts to shine too – the oyster sauce and mushrooms will take the attention away from the ngoh hiang flavours. Don’t know kneecap manis, but i liked it better with kecap manis as i couldn’t find the thick red dates sweet sauce in HK or Macau! I miss xinyuanli market in Beijing!


  3. Alex
    May 12, 2013 @ 07:58:12

    hahaha!! Damn You Auto Correct!! yes, yes, Kecap Manis was what i was referring to. I actually found the fried tofu skin in 京客隆. Here’s a funny fact about making it in Beijing vs Singapore. Because the humidity is so low here, its very important to work very quickly. Leaving the skin exposed to the atmosphere for more than 15 mins is enough to dry it out, and then make it un-usable for a roll. You must make sure that everything is ready, and then be able to wrap all 10 rolls within minutes.


  4. gilberto
    May 15, 2013 @ 10:09:54

    Thanks in support of sharing such a nice thinking, piece of writing is fastidious, thats why i
    have read it entirely


  5. Mark
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 15:18:40

    This is a beautifully crafted recipe and backstory….I feel like I’d like to eat and chat the day away eating your food. Thanks a million I’m ending today inspired.


  6. Cannie
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 01:02:56

    Hi hi…your recipe looks good but may I just check when do u add in the biscuits?? Thanks!


  7. bilbaobab
    Sep 22, 2013 @ 09:43:39

    thanks for visiting! you add the crushed biscuits to the minced meat together with the water chestnuts before wrapping. let me know how it goes! :)


  8. bilbaobab
    Sep 22, 2013 @ 09:52:44

    Thank you Mark! Food connects people and so many stories :)


  9. Ann Pollack
    Jul 14, 2017 @ 23:20:32

    Love family recipes! I don’t deep-fry, but it looks like the meat recipe it would be great in dumplings.


    • bilbaobab
      Jul 15, 2017 @ 16:34:32

      yup Ann! it’s quite a similar marinate. This one includes biscuit crumbs to hold them together in the steaming and frying process as well as create more ‘bite’, but the same feelings (without the biscuit crumbs) work really well for dumplings! :)


  10. Carmen C Hertel
    Mar 27, 2018 @ 01:36:21

    The picture of the mix clearly has something green in it but none of the ingredients listed is green.


    • bilbaobab
      Mar 28, 2018 @ 15:41:04

      Hi! Oh! I see what you mean, those are spring onions, we added a little for colour, but in my mum’s recipe, we do without spring onions.


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