Grandma’s Taiwanese Meat Roll (Bà Gèng) | 外婆的肉捲

This “meat roll” is my grandma’s secret recipe, I’ve never had anything like this anywhere else. This Taiwanese meat roll is soft, gooey, chewy, flavorful and super tasty. Grandma would always make a big stack of them and feed it to us kids during Chinese New Year and we love them. There are actually more vegetables than meat, over 50% of this roll is shredded daikon radish!

Chinese new year is almost here, I’ve been thinking a lot about our new year traditions and wondering if there’s ONE THING that’s different in my family comparing to everyone else’s. Yes, there is. This meat roll is IT. My grandma would make mountains of this roll a day or two before Chinese new year and I’ve never seen this anywhere else. Yes, there are similar looking dishes but nothing tastes quite like these.

On the Second Day of CNY 初二回娘家

The married daughters are supposed to return to their maiden home on the second day of Chinese new year(初二回娘家), anytime before that during the new year period will bring bad luck to the maiden family. My mom didn’t go home a lot, so on the second day of Chinese new year she would always want to get there at the strike of midnight. We’d arrive, grandma would be half asleep till she saw us and her face would light up. She would lead us to our room then start feeding us snacks in the dark- meat rolls.

It’s fair to say that I’ve never seen these in broad daylight. I don’t really know what they’re supposed to look like but I remember how it felt to bite into one- warm, home, new year, grandma’s love.

Bà Gèng 肉捲

“Ba4Geng4”, meat rolls(肉捲) in Taiwanese are probably one of the first Taiwanese that I’ve ever learned- I had no idea what it meant when I was little. Grandma hasn’t made these for quite a few years now, but this is one of my most memorable memories and I’m not about to let it disappear so I asked my mom for the “recipe”.

Mom sent a “recipe” with added notes from my uncle. It was basically a list of ingredients with very very minimal instructions. “Pork, soy sauce, 5 spice–> marinade.” “Shredded radish, add salt then add sweet potato starch” “Tofu skin–> wrap” “Use green garlic sprouts as a brush” “Deep fry till the color changes” “uncle said to add more black pepper if you want to use beef”. mmm… ok, mom. Good thing I still remember what it tastes like so the experiments began.

Tofu Skin & Sweet Potato Starch 鮮腐皮與地瓜粉

Two ingredients that may seem a little more unfamiliar would be the “tofu skin”(鮮腐皮) and “sweet potato starch“(地瓜粉). I found these tofu skins in the freezer of our local Asian Food Store. They’re a bit dry but still pliable, which is very important since you’ll need to roll the rolls! These were a little dry but I sprayed a little water on the dried corners to soften it up a bit and they were good.

Sweet potato starch is a very common ingredient in Taiwanese cooking. It’s used as a thickening agent, it’s the chewiness to homemade danbing and it’s the original ingredient to bobas! The texture and consistency is also very similar to tapioca starch, and since that’s easier to find here in the US, you can substitute sweet potato starch with tapioca.

Meat Rolls before being deep fried

Grandma’s Taiwanese Meat Roll | 肉捲

Print Pin
Course Appetizer, Pork, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Asian, Chinese, Taiwanese
Keyword Asian, Easy, Pork, Radish, Taiwanese Food
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Marinade Time 1 hour
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 5 Rolls
Author Choochoo-ca-Chew

Ingredients

Pork & Marinade

  • 1/2 lb Pork Shoulder Cut into 1/2″ thick strips
  • 2 TBsp Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Chinese Five Spice
  • 1/4 tsp Ground cinammon

Daikon Radish Filling

  • 2 lb Daikon Radish Shredded
  • 1 Carrot Shredded
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 C Finely Chopped Onion
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Ground White Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 C Sweet Potato Starch Sub with Tapioca Flour

Wrapper

  • 1~2 Sheets Tofu Skin
  • 1/2 C Water
  • 1/4 C All Purpose Flour
  • 4 C Vegetable Oil or more for deep frying

Instructions

Marinade the Pork

  • Mix the strips of pork, sauce, and spice in the “marinade” section. Let the meat marinade for at least one hour or cover and leave in the fridge overnight.

Filling and Wrap

  • Add the 1tsp of salt to radish and carrots mixture and mix well. Let it sit for 20 mins and squeeze out the water from the radish mixture. I used a nut milk bag. The mixture should still be moist, just not dripping.
  • Add the finely chopped onions, the rest of the seasoning, and 1C of sweet potato starch to the radish. Mix well.
  • Lay down a sheet of Tofu skin, layer the radish mixture on top, about 1/2″ thick then add a strip of pork across the center. (See photo in the post for reference)
    How long you make your roll is completely up to you, but I would suggest that it’s short enough to fit into the pan/wok you’re frying them in.
  • Roll the tofu wrapper and dab the end with the flour paste to “glue it together”. (1/2C water +1/4C Flour)
  • Repeat the fill and roll steps until you run out of ingredients. Makes about 4~5 rolls.

Frying

  • In a wok or a deep pan, heat up enough oil on medium heat so at least half of the roll can submerge in it. Add a few rolls to fry on medium heat. (My 14″ wok fits three at a time)
  • Turn the rolls occasionally so each side can be fried evenly. Turn the heat up to high after the rolls are slightly golden and fry till the rolls are light brown.
  • Remove from heat, slice the rolls up and serve. You don’t need sauce with this but if you want to taste my childhood memory- dip them in ketchup. 😉 

CNY Recipes From Scratc:

ShaoXing DrunkenChicken | 簡單紹興醉雞

Classic Dong Po Pork | 入口即化 東坡肉

Vegetarian RadishCake- Uncooked Rice Version | 自磨米漿素食蘿蔔糕

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CHOOCHOO-ca-CHEW

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