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How to Cook Chinese Ngohiong: Real Story of Cebu's Favorite Savory Snack

Reina simply loves cooking at home. To develop her cooking skills, she studies online courses on professional cookery.

This tasty appetizer should come on the royal table together with the famous Chinese dim sum platter. The dish sprung from traditional Chinese cuisine. Yet, it seems rare to see fancy restaurants serving Chinese ngohiong on their menu. Even fast-food chains in malls and diners cannot compare to the street vendors.

In the Philippines, you don't need to drive very far to satisfy your craving for Chinese food. It's available anywhere. You can easily grab a bite of your favorite Chinese ngohiong when you go out into the street.

Try asking every college student you know and they'll tell you quite a few places to try the best Chinese ngohiong in town. The food hub takes its name from the dish itself. It is the favorite lunchtime hangout for the students of a prestigious university.

Origin of Chinese Ngohiong in Cebu

It's a popular snack in Cebu, Philippines. Students at the universities and colleges enjoy Chinese Ngohiong because of its savory taste and affordable price. I still remember getting a complete meal of two Ngohiong rolls and puso for only twenty pesos.

Special Chinese Dish

But, did you know that the first Chinese Ngohiong used to be available only for the rich students? Rappler tells the history of the tasty snack. It was a dish prepared by Chinese chefs in elite Chinese households on special occasions until someone started selling them at school.

The original Chinese Ngohiong recipe was made with meat such as pork intestine. The dish takes its inspiration from the native Hokkien dish called Ngo Hiang. It is known as kikiam in the Philippines.

A Cheaper Alternative

It was only in the '70s when the Chinese chefs started substituting meat with vegetables. They wanted to make the dish affordable to everyone. A man named Domingo Chua from Guadalupe was the first to sell affordable Chinese Ngohiong by adding vegetables to replace the meat ingredients.

The original Chinese Ngohiong did not appear like what we have today. Instead, it looked more like sausages until the cooks decided to use lumpia wrappers which were easily available at the Carbon Public Market. They also slowly eliminated the meat ingredient replacing it with ubod which is a coconut-palm heart.

Today, Chinese Ngohiong has grown to become a favorite Filipino delicacy. Many people have even learned to make their own recipes. Let me share with you how I learned to cook this savory treat. I got this recipe from a short course a attended a few years ago.

What You Will Need

Ngohiong Filling::

  • 1 1/2 kilo ubod, shredded or julienned
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 kilo ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 piece chicken broth cube
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ngohiong powder
  • 1 teaspon MSG (vetsin)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Breading Mix::

  • 1/2 kilo bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon ngohiong powder
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Ngohiong Sauce::

  • 4 cups ngohiong drippings
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons refine sugar
  • 6 pieces small chili peppers (siling kulikot)
  • 1/2 teaspoon MSG (vetsin)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

How To Cook Chinese Ngohiong

  1. Sauté garlic with chicken broth cubes in 1/4 cup cooking oil.
  2. Add ground pork and cook for a few minutes until meat changes color.
  3. Add ubod and soy sauce. Season with salt, pepper, ngohiong powder, and vetsin.
  4. Add water and bring to a boil. Cook until meat is done. Taste and season if necessary.
  5. Remove from heat and drain to cool. Squeeze dry and save the drippings for the ngohiong sauce.
  6. Scoop about 1 teaspoon of Ngohiong filling and place it on lumpia wrappers. Roll and seal with water or egg wash.
  7. Set aside and prepare the breading mix. Drench the Ngohiong rolls in the flour mixture and deep fry in oil.
  8. Place cook Ngohiong rolls on clean paper towels to drain excess oil. Serve with spicy Ngohiong sauce.

Power of the Five Spice

Ngohiong powder is the secret ingredient that makes Chinese Ngohiong so irresistibly delicious. Traditional Chinese cuisine uses this mixture of five spices to create that unique sweet, bitter, salty, sour, and savory taste. It gives the dish that remarkable delicious Chinese flavor.

There are many recipes for ngohiong powder. They could use a variety of spices but the most common seasoning includes star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and fennel seeds. Others may include ginger root, nutmeg, and turmeric.

The famous kitchen condiment has also been studied for its antioxidant properties. Some researchers believe that ngohiong powder may have potential health benefits because of its five-spice ingredients. Ancient Chinese traditions have used it to cure indigestion.

My Two Cents

I wish I could talk more nutrition facts about my Chinese Ngohiong recipe. Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to ask my trainer about it. She probably was more interested in cooking techniques than theories. It was also just a short course from our local community college.

I wasn't able to take note of the cooking time when we prepared this recipe in class. But, I can assure you that it's pretty easy to make. It's just cumbersome. You have to make sure that the Ngohiong filling is dry. You need to squeeze out all the liquid as possible or you'll end up with soggy Ngohiong rolls.

Making the Ngohiong Sauce

Our trainer did not give us clear instructions to make this spicy Ngohiong sauce. But, it's pretty easy. You just have to mix all ingredients together and let it simmer for a few minutes until the mixture starts to get sticky. If you have a special Ngohiong sauce recipe, please share it here. I would love to try it. I never had any professional culinary training. I simply love cooking at home and improvising my own recipe. But, I still need to learn how to write one.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Reina Mendoza

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