Damien D’Silva’s Ngoh Hiang & Ayam Pop

Damien D’Silva’s Ngoh Hiang & Ayam Pop

Damian D'Silva Immigrants 2

Anyone that’s been to Singapore would possibly vouch for the vibrant food scene the steamy city is known for. A melting pot of cultures. A melting pot of flavours. And very much a destination for an eating holiday for those of us that don’t call it home.

One guy that’s been making his mark on Singapore’s food scene for over a decade is Damien D’Silva. This is a guy that learned a thing or two at a very young age, from watching his grandfather prepare family meals in their home kitchen.

Damian started his career as an aeronautical engineer, staying in the industry for 15 years, before heading to Europe to pursue his real passion. Cooking. The first stops were Sardinia and Rome, then to San Sebastian in Spain where he gained most of is culinary experience. One of my favourite cities, so I’m a tad envious there! Damian later took on consultancy work with a Singaporean company; planning and preparing food for private events.

After a short stint with his own catering business, D’Silva decided to open Soul Kitchen, a European and Peranakan restaurant that wooed the locals with unique dishes that are still considered “lost” by many a die-hard traditionalist. Sometime down the track the restaurant was moved to a local hawker centre, and renamed Big D’s Grill.

While Big D’s may no longer exist, D’Silva keeps traditional Singaporean cuisine alive at Immigrants, his latest gastro-bar project that focusses on tapas-style local food in a venue that’s far from a hawker centre.

Thanks to Damien’s generosity, he was willing to give me two of his recipes to try at home and share with you all.

Damien appeared at the 2014 Langham Melbourne Masterclass, as part of Melbourne Food & Wine Festival

Ngoh hiang recipe

Ngoh hiang recipe

Ngoh hiang recipe

Ngoh hiang recipe

Ngoh hiang recipe


Ayam pop recipe

Ayam pop recipe

Ayam pop recipe

Ayam pop recipe

Ayam pop |recipe

ayam pop

This fried chicken dish hails from the Malay Archipelago and gets its name from the fierce popping sound it makes when it hits the fryer. A deliciously complex sambal is served on the side.

{I used 4 quails and 4 chicken wings. The quails take a little longer to cook, at a slightly lower oil temperature. Heat the oil to about 180°C.}

Serves 4-6

sambal :

  • 100 g fresh red chillies, roughly chopped
  • 150 g tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 200 g shallots, peeled
  • 50 g garlic, peeled
  • 1/3 cup peanut oil
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, white part only, bruised
  • 150 g fresh tomato, sliced into quarters
  • salt and sugar, to taste

Place the first four ingredients into a blender, and grind until fine.

Heat the oil in a wok, add the spice paste and bruised lemongrass. Stir regularly and reduce the heat to medium-low so you don’t burn the paste. Cook for 20 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated. This will take another 20 minutes. Season with salt and sugar, to taste. Remove and discard the lemongrass, then decanter the sambal into a small bowl to cool completely. Cover and set aside in the fridge.

marinade :

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
  • 50 g garlic, peeled
  • 100 g kencur/galangal, sliced
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 20 g ginger, peeled & chopped
  • 8 daun salam or fresh bay leaves, julienned
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, julienned
  • 700 ml coconut juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1½ litres peanut oil, for deep frying

Place the garlic, galangal, lemongrass and ginger into a blender. Grind to a paste. Add a little of the coconut juice if the mixture is too dry and won’t blend.

Place the chicken pieces into a plastic container. Pour in the spice paste, add the daun salam, kaffir lime leaves coconut juice, salt and sugar. Mix well to combine. Just be sure there’s enough liquid to cover the chicken. Place a lid on the container and refrigerate overnight.

Heat the peanut oil on a large saucepan over medium-high heat.

Take the chicken pieces from the marinade and drain well. When the oil is hot enough, fry a few pieces of chicken at a time. Be sure to stand back as it will pop and spit oil around. Cook the chicken pieces until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from oil, drain on absorbent paper, then serve immediately with the sambal.


Print Recipe
Ngoh Hiang
This classic Peranakan dish is made with pork, crab, prawns and five spice. It's a sausage, of sorts, that's rolled in bean curd, steamed then fried. Serve it with kecap manis or a chilli sauce.
  1. Place the pork, prawns, crab meat, water chestnuts, spring onion, pepper, five spice and sesame oil into a bowl. Mix well. Portion the mixture into 150 g patties, or use a ½ cup measure. You should get 7 patties.
  2. Lay the bean curd sheet lengthways on the work surface, with the long side facing you. Place the mixture onto the bottom of the long side of the skin, forming a sausage shape about 3 cm thick. Leave a couple of centimetres of room either side of the log. Roll to the halfway point, tuck in the sides, then brush the remaining skin with egg white. Continue rolling to seal. Repeat with the remaining mixture, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Place a large saucepan on the stove, add a few centimetres of water, then bring to the boil. Place a round piece of baking paper into the bottom of a bamboo steamer. Smear a little sesame oil over the paper then pierce it with holes, for steaming. Place the chilled rolls into the lined steamer, cover with a lid, then steam the rolls for 8 minutes. If the steamer isn't big enough, steam the rolls in batches. Once steamed, remove the rolls and place onto a plate. Refrigerate until cool.
  4. When ready to fry the rolls, cut them into 4 or 6. Lightly dust in cornflour then carefully drop into the hot oil. Fry until golden, then drain on absorbent paper.
  1. Blend all ingredients until the chilli is finely chopped. Check that all the flavours are well balanced.
  2. To serve, arrange the fried ngoh hiang on plates and serve with the sauce. Eat while hot.
Recipe Notes

I've halved the original recipe and added a little salt to the mixture, despite Damian's recipe not having it. Make the chilli sauce ahead of time, if you wish. Also, I also tried shallow frying the whole steamed roll in a few millimetres of oil, rather than deep-frying. I didn't use cornflour and the skin had a texture I preferred.

Share this Recipe
Real Time Analytics