21 Apr2012

Quintessential street food in Cebu. Sit down on a stool at a streetside eatery (pungko-pungko) and sink your teeth into freshly fried lumpia seasoned with five-spice powder (ngo yong) with whatever dip(s) your purveyor has on offer. Students, manual laborers, jeepney drivers, office workers, etc. all know what this dish is. I am somewhat ashamed to say, I had never known about it, nor eaten it before and when an acquaintance of Mrs. MM asked her about it, she too had never tasted this type of lumpia… so hmmm, obviously our curiosity was piqued. Even a check with the crew resulted in a few quizzical looks, as it turns out they are from the province of Cebu, but hadn’t spent much time in the city, where this delicacy has gained popularity in recent decades… A little googling, a little sleuthing, a few calls to Cebu and I decided to make my own version despite having never tasted the dish before! So consider this recipe a work in progress, I will have my fill of Ngo Yong on my next trip to Cebu, but even though this was a maiden attempt, the lumpia tasted pretty darned good! :)

While I suspect that economy is one the tenets that made this such a successful street food… I opted to go for flavor with less emphasis on keeping it as cheap as possible. Into a heavy pot over medium heat, I added 3 tablespoons of pure pork lard, my secret weapon for mouthwatering flavor. Next I added some chopped onions and a bit of garlic and sauteed that until soft and fragrant. I added in about a half kilo of ground pork and sauteed for a few minutes. Next, freshly peeled and chopped shrimp was added to the pot, roughly 250 grams worth, though up to half a kilo of pre-peeled shrimps would have been nice too. Add in roughly 700 grams of julienned ubod or heart of palm, and roughly 150-200 grams of julienned singkamas. Seasoned this with salt and pepper, some kikkoman soy sauce and a teaspoon or more of five spice powder. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Once the ubod is soft and everything is cooked through, “drain the filling” and keep the juices for the dipping sauce. Let the filling cool before you wrap up the lumpia. Make relatively large lumpia. Make a slurry of roughly 1 cup cornstarch, 3/4 cup water, 1 egg and some salt and five spice powder and beat until well mixed.

Heat up some vegetable oil in a wok (I considered lard, but I think that would be TOO MUCH) over high heat. Briefly soak the lumpia in the cornstarch slurry, remove the excess, and deep fry until a light to medium golden color.

Meanwhile, make a dipping sauce by taking the remaining sauce you set aside earlier, adding some water and brown sugar, kikkoman and cornstarch and additional salt and pepper. Add some water to dilute the intensity of the sauce if it is too intense or too thick. We added two chopped siling labuyo to the sauce. Taste until you get it to your liking… sweet, salty, meaty, spicy and appetizing. Prepare a second dipping sauce of vinegar and garlic or something acidic and sour…

The ngohiong were DELICIOUS! An extremely crisp wrapper yielded to a delicious filling that was clearly flavored with the distinct five spice powder. The five-spice was in the filling, the wrapper and the sauce and while obvious, wasn’t overwhelming. The filling was meaty, but not overly so because of the ubod and singkamas. It was moist and crisp at the same time… I can see why these would be a street food favorite!



  1. bearhug0127 says:

    I can almost hear the crunch when you bite!

    Apr 21, 2012 | 7:02 am


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  3. bearhug0127 says:

    Sorry MM, but I can’t make up the 3rd photo? What is this process and what is it?

    Any kind of lumpia is a house favorite… specially when really crunchy!

    Apr 21, 2012 | 7:08 am

  4. Betchay says:

    The cornstarch slurry dip is brilliant!I will do this tomorrow.Looks very crunchy and appetizing!

    Apr 21, 2012 | 7:16 am

  5. bluegirl says:

    Oh, that looks soooooo good! That skin makes me think of chicharon…

    Apr 21, 2012 | 7:20 am

  6. Footloose says:

    For those interested, Ngo Hiang is Hokien for five spice powder.

    Never came across this type of egg roll in Manila although they are quite popular in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Did not see it either when I vacationed in Cebu a few years ago. I can see myself doing this since I am really fond of fried vegetable lumpia. In fact, I shall test it if a quick bath in a light batter can extend the short-lived crunch of my normal lumpia.

    The constructed sauce above looks delicious and I suspect, will rival my favourite dunking sauce, vinegar, garlic and black pepper.

    Apr 21, 2012 | 7:29 am

  7. kcmc says:

    been thinking about this street food a month ago.it has been ages since ive eaten such…will make it soon…the photos are so tempting! want to eat them now..

    Apr 21, 2012 | 7:29 am

  8. marissewalangkaparis says:

    Hmmm…I should try this..looks delish!…

    Apr 21, 2012 | 7:30 am

  9. betty q. says:

    Wisdom tooth…since we both live far from kabihasnan, you can sub TARO in place of ubod or singkamas. ….makes excellent Vietnamese style NGO HIONG! …like our lumpia shanghai but made with lots of grated taro, lots of onions and carrots, ground pork and shrimp, 5 spice, salt/pepper, eggwhite/cornstarch, etc. …rolled like finger size lumpia, fried till only beige in color, cooled. When ready to eat, dip in the slurry and fry to golden brown. So, you have 4 food groups included, wrap the finger size ngo hiong in lettuce leaf and eat it like that. I don’t feel bad eating a lot of it when wrapped in lettuce!

    Apr 21, 2012 | 7:30 am

  10. Joseph says:

    We used to make and sell these in our restaurant in Manila. We used beancurd wrapper called taupe. The veggies were chopped rather than julienned. Your version looks very crispy inside and out. Looks delicious.

    Apr 21, 2012 | 7:44 am

  11. Footloose says:

    Although jicama is available now in Toronto, julienned rutabaga, turnips or celery root should be a good substitute for it. Tinned hearts of palm are also available but I simply avoid using them since I get a surfeit of it when traveling in Brazil where it feels as though it’s a patriotic duty of every Brazilian to incorporate it in anything they serve that is meant to impress.

    @Joseph, wrapped in taufu skin (tau pian) like your version was how I encountered them in South East Asia. And its crisp lasted longer it seemed.

    Apr 21, 2012 | 7:50 am

  12. PITS, MANILA says:

    We love lumpia! Be it filled with vegetables and tofu or the meaty kind, it’s always a hit! I learned something new today from your recipe. The drippings after draining can be used as a sauce .. never tried that! Thanks for sharing, MM!

    Apr 21, 2012 | 7:52 am

  13. ConnieC says:

    The puffed batter almost looks like the acupunctured zubo skin. Looks very “cripsy.”

    Apr 21, 2012 | 8:14 am

  14. betty q. says:

    Footloose…I have used Lo bak too in place of singkamas. try the baby taro which I prefer using!

    So, you must cook a lot of fresh lumpia ubod in Brazil, no? Do you bring your crepe make with you? Since it is usually summer in Brazil when it is the dead of winter here, do you also maked Ubod punch or Ubod Sangria?

    Bean curd skin is traditionally used in Malaysia and usually steamed first before deep-frying.

    Apr 21, 2012 | 8:29 am

  15. jen888rn says:

    wow so good, i miss Domings ngohiong in Cebu, i think its the best.

    Apr 21, 2012 | 8:32 am

  16. edel says:

    dear mm,

    the best ngohiong i’ve tasted in cebu was the one from guadalupe. there’s this house there that sells and accepts tons of orders of ngohiong .. somewhere near the church if i’m not mistaken. this was the suki of my friend’s family in cebu

    Apr 21, 2012 | 8:52 am

  17. Lalaine says:

    there is really something about fried food that makes it a comfort food across people of different social statures. there is this hankering for it even with supermodels I guess, hehehe…

    Apr 21, 2012 | 9:13 am

  18. lovely joy says:

    ngohiong!!! one of my favorite street food. the best I had tasted so far is from Cheavers Fried Grill here in Mandaue. :)

    Apr 21, 2012 | 9:38 am

  19. josephine says:

    I think you could bring this in from the street to the restaurant MM! What about a version with lechon inside? It wouldn’t be the first time street food goes upmarket…

    Apr 21, 2012 | 9:54 am

  20. ted says:

    @BettyQ, what kind of Taro do you use as a substitute? Is it the small variety or the large (bluish) ones? Frozen Ubod is available here but very prohibitive in price, also the bag is filled mostly with water.

    Apr 21, 2012 | 10:01 am

  21. Marketman says:

    Josephine, you were reading my mind, three batches of experiments already completed… with some surprising results, actually… :)

    Apr 21, 2012 | 10:16 am

  22. sandee says:

    I remember hearing about Ngo Hiong and seeing the menu item which showed lumpia at a fast food joint during my trip to Cebu almost 2 years ago. It was a “huh?” moment for me because the ngo hiong I know is the 5 spice powder my mom uses in our meatballs :P

    Apr 21, 2012 | 10:28 am

  23. betty q. says:

    Ted, buddy! I prefer using the small ones for it is really starchy than the big bluish ones that once you make hampas against the sides of the bowl, your mixture becomes sticky that you don’t even need the eggwhite/cornstarch to bind it. However, I grate them using the big holes of box grater.

    BTW…try the Pancake recipe, Ted… the boys have been having pancakes for 3 days in a row now…even for late night snack! Usually, I do not finish an entire litre of buttermilk…but now, 1 litre is gone in 3 days!

    Apr 21, 2012 | 10:42 am

  24. bakerwannabe says:

    Isn’t the one wrapped with taupe or tofu skin called kekiam? We have always had kekiam but not ngohiong the way it is done here. But we call our kekiam ngohiong because of the use of 5 spice which is the term in Chinese. Confusing? Whichever, it sure looks very good and worth a try.

    Apr 21, 2012 | 10:55 am

  25. josephine says:

    Hunger sharpens the (sixth) sense…oh to be a guinea pig during your experiments…

    Apr 21, 2012 | 11:32 am

  26. Richard says:

    Ngo Hiong can also be added to liempo marinade…at least that’s what my dad does and it tastes delicious!

    Apr 21, 2012 | 11:51 am

  27. Joseph says:

    @bakerwannabe – Yes, it is called kikiam or quekiam in Manila.

    Apr 21, 2012 | 12:07 pm

  28. corrine says:

    Wow, I wonder how it would taste with diced lechon meat inside with the ubod. It could be a hit in your resto!

    Apr 21, 2012 | 12:15 pm

  29. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    I remember ngohiong in the 70’s when it became popular. We use to line up at our high school’s fence during break to buy from the street vendors outside. We use to eat them with puso (hanging rice). Each vendor had their own sauce concoction (usually spicy). I vaguely remember them having some ground pork and not shrimps however (I wouldn’t be around today if it had shrimps then…bad allergy).

    In the 90’s a popular ngohiong house in mabolo was called Atek’s.

    I think a zubuchon ngohiong would be awesome too!!!

    Apr 21, 2012 | 12:57 pm

  30. ohinuj says:

    My grandma makes ngohiong by filling beancurd skin with a pork and vegetable filling (spiced with five spice powder, of course!) before cutting them into inch and a half long pieces and frying them. It was her mother’s recipe. Always a bestseller at our parties or dinners.

    Apr 21, 2012 | 1:25 pm

  31. tisay says:

    yummy, yummy…those were my favorites during my college days in Cebu.

    Apr 21, 2012 | 1:45 pm

  32. Elodie Amora says:

    Oh God how I miss ngohiong! One of the first things I’m eating when I get back home!

    Apr 21, 2012 | 3:05 pm

  33. Mimi says:

    Yummy with arroz caldo on a rainy day!

    Apr 21, 2012 | 3:20 pm

  34. mrshoover says:

    hmm, NGO HIONG? i had that in my high school days in the 80’s, but i think it fizzled out in my province because i never saw it again during my college days, or probably my taste bud was leaning towards our lumpia shanghai, that i never notice it was still there.

    Apr 21, 2012 | 3:25 pm

  35. Pam says:

    This is so interesting! Among Amoy families, ngo hiong is a special kind of sausage. One that is becoming so rare nowadays as this seemed to be a recipe of our A-mas (grandmother) and Anchos (great grandmother). In my past corporate life, I remember going to Cebu and our Sales team brought me to this place called Ngo Hiong House where I was surprised to find a different version of ngo hiong (very close to what you did, MM) and it was also my first experience with puso. I wonder if this place still exists.

    Apr 21, 2012 | 5:05 pm

  36. risa says:

    Yahoooo. Request granted!

    Apr 21, 2012 | 5:48 pm

  37. khrishyne says:

    we eat “ngohiong” with out the five spice,hehe. just plain, ubod and singkamas filling with this hot sauce that a carenderia called chinese ngohiong serves. they have branches near UC, UV (back of Gaisano Main) and USC Main (at Junquera St. near PCGS gate). every now and then, i just have that craving.

    Apr 21, 2012 | 8:30 pm

  38. natie says:

    another great addition to my recipe book!!!! i love any kind of lumpia, too. (except the the giant commercial-tasting eggroll from greasy-spoon Chinese take-out)

    Apr 21, 2012 | 9:30 pm

  39. Faust says:

    we have ngoyiong lumpia here in Davao City, somebody claimed in cebu that their ngoyiong or balamban liempo is copyrighted to theirs.. O_O

    Apr 21, 2012 | 9:32 pm

  40. Lei says:

    Lightbulb moment for me, the slurry!!! I will try to use the slurry even on lumpia shanghai just to see how this goes. Thanks again MM!

    Apr 21, 2012 | 9:39 pm

  41. Footloose says:

    @Natie, I was once drawn to a Western Chinese restaurant famous for their giant egg rolls, I assume, just like the ones you detest. In this case, the locals (Canadians) adored them. Went there with my gang and found the place hilarious. They featured a Chinese Western singer complete with fringed cowboy outfit singing country favorites like You Chose a Fine Time to Leave Me Lucille in a very thick singsong Chinese pronunciation. We fell off our chairs laughing.

    Apr 21, 2012 | 9:45 pm

  42. aji says:

    Yum yum! Whenever I am in Cebu, Ngo Hiong is a must ear. Cheaver’s has the best ngo hiong I have tasted so far. Ma try nga iton MM version. Looks good.

    Apr 21, 2012 | 10:24 pm

  43. natie says:

    @Footloose–that’s too funny–I’d probably go back there just for laughs..I can just imagine !!!

    Apr 21, 2012 | 11:10 pm

  44. boopsie says:

    I found a similar dish called Lor Bak in Penang, Malaysia with a few asian differences of course. but same basic ingredients.


    Apr 22, 2012 | 2:11 am

  45. Adin Blankenship says:

    Oh dear! That is seriously good looking food and I have no doubt that it tasted that good. Just the looks of it makes you drool. hahaha… I miss Filipino food so much since I don’t have access to a Pinoy store from where I am at in Kansas. Darn it! That just makes me hungry. I just had some turon the other day, but mine was a banana plantain turon and my family loves it. So good! New follower of yours for sure. :)

    Apr 22, 2012 | 3:19 am

  46. enna says:

    I luv ngo hiong. Fave ni nako. We used to eat in Ngo Hiong House and of course, sa pungko-pungko outside our school.

    Apr 22, 2012 | 3:35 am

  47. Betchay says:

    It’s a marketmanila feast for us today!I just made this crunchy ngo hiong lumpia and MM’s chili crab version for lunch! Meanwhile, MM’s pinoy BBQ version is marinating inside the ref for dinner tonight!Yum-yum!

    Apr 22, 2012 | 2:26 pm

  48. Passive.observer says:

    haven’t tried this version but when i was in legazpi city, i was able to sample a lumpia just like this from graceland restaurant. The filling used carrots, ubod and singkamas,without the slurry coating. Yummy while still hot.

    Apr 22, 2012 | 9:54 pm

  49. Paul Dough says:

    I was introduced to this wonderful form of lumpia in the early 70s. I believe the originator of the Ngo Hiong was a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in downtown Cebu called D’Xela Ngo-Hiong House, then located at the corner of P.Lopez and A Borromeo Sts. The owner, Mrs Felipa Te, was my Aunt’s weekly Mahjong partner. She always brought a shoebox full of Ngo Hiong whenever they had a “session”. As kids, this always bought our silence and cooperation. I believe this original Ngo Hiong was vegetarian and contained no meat.

    Apr 22, 2012 | 9:57 pm

  50. Faust says:

    Is Zubuchon offering these Ngoyiong Lumpia?

    Apr 23, 2012 | 2:02 am

  51. ted says:

    May i substitute ubod with labong? Will the taste be different?

    Apr 23, 2012 | 5:00 am

  52. rita says:

    i just have to try this recipe. i’m so excited, because a friend just gave me a 5-spice powder.

    Apr 23, 2012 | 5:31 am

  53. polly says:

    Yay! Finally a nyo yong post! Brother in law worked and lived in Cebu City for a year some time ago, and he always brought a kilo (or so) of these home, along with lechon (of course!). Every time I ask friends who have been to Cebu City about it, they just look puzzled. If even you (MM) had to look it up, I suppose it’s not as famous as I thought.

    They sell a version of it in Eng Bee Tin, but those seem different from the ones BIL brought home. It could be my faulty memory, though.

    Apr 23, 2012 | 8:30 am

  54. Myra says:

    I have been chasing this recipe for the LOOOOONGEST time!!!! I can’t thank you enough, marketman.

    Apr 23, 2012 | 12:11 pm

  55. Jose says:

    I just had this recently in one of the eateries in Bantayan. Good stuff!

    Apr 23, 2012 | 3:37 pm

  56. Gezel says:

    this is what we call ubod lumpia in Bacolod ( fried or fresh) I grew up with this kind of lumpia it is not a street food though usually sold by the manog libod in bilao.

    manog libod – person who goes around selling kakanin( delicasies) mostly from Silay City, in a bilao in her/his head or by carrying a basket. hope my explanation is correct.

    Apr 23, 2012 | 10:35 pm

  57. Dianne says:

    My boyfriend and I always eat ngoyong when we’re in Bohol. 5 pesos apiece is really cheap ulam :)

    Apr 24, 2012 | 1:30 pm

  58. romwell says:

    MM you could add sotanghon noodles or rice noodles pwede din ala vietnamese version to sop up the juices sa gisa and includethe noodles along with the fillings sa lumpia. that way more juicy sya since the noodles will hold the flavor in.

    Apr 24, 2012 | 8:20 pm

  59. ykmd says:

    Love love love ngo hiong! We used to eat at a ngo hiong place across from the original Cebu Doctor’s Hospital, some 3 decades ago. I wonder if it’s still there? You’ve inspired me to try and make my own, MM!

    Apr 25, 2012 | 1:15 pm

  60. wisdom tooth says:

    I’ve never had ngo hiong before. Looks so good! Even my colleagues who tries to look over my shoulders when I go to my web sites are requesting for “lumpiah’.
    Betty q, it’s been a while (sorry, MM). You know I follow your instructions to the letter. I will try this using ingredients na pang malayo sa kabihasnan. TY… New email, Betty q?

    Apr 26, 2012 | 1:08 am

  61. Netoy says:

    We can buy a version of this in a Vietnamese Restaurant here but definitely will try this version.

    MM – for the dipping sauce, does it need to be cooked in slow heat or is it just mixing all the ingredients without heating? Thanks.

    Apr 27, 2012 | 2:08 am

  62. Bingky says:

    I miised ngohiong… i liked the ones served at cheaverz in AS Fortuna…

    Apr 27, 2012 | 3:34 am

  63. millet says:

    i guess the street version of ngo hiong started like this, but slowly deteriorated to its present version. it’s nothing but a glob of cornstarch paste (glue) with a few vegetable shreds, wrapped in lumpia wrapper.

    your version looks yummy…will definitely have to try it. ngo hiong is really the name of 5-spice powder, but the term was also used to refer to que kiam (kikiam) only since it was flavored with the spice mixture.

    Apr 30, 2012 | 8:41 pm

  64. terrey says:

    my vacation in Cebu is never complete without eating ngo-hiong! we can take the family out to some rather pricey eating joints, but when the husband and I are alone on dates, we always have the ngo-hiong or the maki at Manila restaurant. ah, i miss Cebu!

    May 1, 2012 | 5:57 pm

  65. rik says:

    i like your fried lumpia, but can you design a version of the recipe for lacto vegitarians pls. i am one kasi

    Jun 27, 2012 | 9:55 am

  66. Melanie says:

    I am truly delighted with this website now! Thank you for featuring ngohiong! A favorite of mine. Usually I would have this with either puso or “pork steamed rice”

    Sep 27, 2012 | 2:46 am

  67. wawie ay-ay says:

    i am very very love ngohiong!truly im inlove sa ngohiong.every time na pumupunta ako ng cebu talaga hinahanap ko yan!!!! kya nga hinanap ko ito sa internet. kasi gusto ko sana mag negosyo dito sa amin dito sa leyte tacloban.ask sana po ako pa ano mka order nyan.please contact me. dito sa no# na ito 09303502752.saan ko ba kyo ma dapat ma contact?please asap tawagan nyo ako.gusto ko sana by first week maka pag simula na ako.mag open nyan dito. thanks!!!!asap po please twag kyo.

    Dec 20, 2012 | 7:18 pm

  68. Evelyn Paulino says:

    Just visited Cebu with my friends.We went to a house with a small eatery that serves ngo yong and its so good.I check the internet to find the recipe and I’m so lucky to find your recipe.Thank you.

    Jun 11, 2013 | 3:37 pm

  69. nanor says:

    Saan maka bili ng five spice powder?

    Nov 26, 2013 | 2:30 am

  70. dd says:

    this is not ngohiong cebu style. there’s no meat.

    Dec 6, 2013 | 2:18 pm

  71. ruthsie says:

    saan ba ang factory nang ngohiong..gusto ko sana mag tinda dto sa bukidnon.tnx’pls txt 09361471122

    Mar 4, 2014 | 10:13 pm

  72. ngohiongaddict says:

    i am a food lover, i really love to eat viands most especially with spicy salsas, since NGOHIONG has been a hot issue in here, i would highly recommend this store, i am always there every now and then, i have been a regular costumer since i was in Elementary up until i finished University and even now i am working and i really do swear ’twas the most delicious NGOHIONG I’ve ever eaten not to mention their spicy sauce….this store is located just right across The Sacred Heart School, General Maxilum Avenue, Cebu City….a must try!!!

    Mar 10, 2014 | 12:49 am


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