Oct 122012

Sometimes, I eat food from the local supermarket. Prepared food, that I just reheat. One of my favourite breakfast meals is the humble Ngoh Hiang Roll – and these usually come in a packet from the nearest supermarket.

According to the Makansutra Guide, Ngoh Hiang properly refers to a selection of deep fried snacks traditionally served with bee hoon (rice vermicelli) of Teochow Chinese origin. The fried snacks include prawn fritters, tofu, little sausages and fishballs. I’ve had similar a few times – a plate of mixed fried morsels can be the perfect beer snack on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

For me the term “Ngoh Hiang” has mostly meant the tasty fish meat rolls derived from this traditional snack family that I obtain from – yes – the supermarket.  The fish/prawn mixture is wrapped in tofu skins then fried and allowed to dry. These are then reheated by steaming for 5-10 minutes. This photo shows the large ones from my local supermarket – for size comparison, that is an 18 centimeter steamer.

These are incredibly cheap – SGD1.15 to SGD1.30 a packet depending on where you look – that’s around AUD1/USD1. They are also an easy thing to unwrap and pop in the steamer on the way to the shower in the morning. Each packet will contain three large (in roll form shown above, or flatter cake form) or around eight small rolls.

The average Singaporean supermarket usually has these smaller ones. Note that the skins are very wrinkly – these are yet to be steamed:

I usually drop them into a bowl and add a little soy and chili sauce.

One more word on supermarkets in general. I know that this might sound like heresy to the foodie purists – but I would encourage anyone coming to Singapore for the first time to find a supermarket and look at what is available – you might be pleasantly surprised. If you carry a copy of the Makansutra Guide with you (or have access to a data plan for your phone) you can spend hours wandering around learning about new foods. It is a passion I have had wherever I have traveled – the everyday foods will be found in the coffee shops and the hawker centers here, true, but you will learn a lot about a place through its supermarkets.