Qin Yi’s Grandma’s Bak Kng, a Chinese New Year Special

Qin Yi taught me how to make her grandma’s bak kng, which I guess is a close cousin of ngoh hiang. Ngoh hiang seems to be one of those dishes that every Chinese family does differently – some families add crushed cream crackers, some use jicama instead of water chestnuts. I first learnt how to make this at Candlenut, where the ngoh hiangs are steamed, cooled overnight, then deep-fried to order. My mother-in-law ties the raw logs of ngoh hiangs with kitchen twine, so they look just like linked sausages upon emerging from the steaming rack. She then snips through the links to separate the “sausages”. Qin Yi’s grandma’s bak kngs are unique in a few ways. The meat is only surrounded with one sheet of beancurd skin, which is not moistened with water at all! The log is then chopped into pieces with a sharp cleaver into bak kngs which are deep-fried. The result is a crisp, delicate crust and a deeper caramelization of the meat that has been exposed. Will definitely be making these again next Chinese New Year!

Qin Yi’s Grandma’s Bak Kng

Feeds 3 generously

5 prawns, deshelled, deveined and diced

3 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water until soft, squeezed, stems discarded, caps diced

500g pork mince (needs to have some fat in it – get your butcher to grind up some pork belly for you)

A small handful of chopped coriander

A small handful of sliced spring onions

1 egg

1 tablespoon flour

1 – 1 ½ tablespoons soy

Pinch of salt

75g carrots, finely diced

200g peeled jicama (or substitute with water chestnuts), finely diced

Large rectangles cut from one large sheet of beancurd skin

1. Mix all the ingredients except the tofu skin together.

2. Cook a little bit of the mixture and check for seasoning.

3. Place a rectangle of beancurd skin on your work surface and add some of the pork mixture. Shape it into a log, leaving a border on the sides and at the bottom.

4. Roll the bak kng up and trim off the excess beancurd skin so that the log of meat is wrapped by only one layer of beancurd skin.

5. With a knife or cleaver, chop the log up into bite-sized pieces.

6. Deep fry at 180C until light golden and cooked.

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Author:

Pamelia Chia is a Singaporean chef and the author of the bestselling cookbook ‘Wet Market to Table’. After graduating with an Honor’s degree in Food Science and Technology from the National University of Singapore in 2014, she decided to trade a food scientist’s lab coat in for chef whites. She has since been working in restaurants in Singapore and Melbourne, including Candlenut and Carlton Wine Room. Her deepest interest being the preservation and celebration of Singaporean food heritage and culture, she started Singapore Noodles in 2020 as a platform to share about Singaporean food to a global audience. Find her on Instagram @pameliachia.

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