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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Arrowhead Chips or Fried Ngaku 炸芽菇饼

Some call it Chiku 慈菇, some call it NgaKu 芽菇... As to why some call male offsprings Chikuting...haha, solve it urself. These are only available around Chinese New Year, so it's a goodie. If u don't eat them now, it's hard to get them later on in the year.

Arrowhead used to cost a lot years back then.. before Tesco came to our shores. Back when I first learnt to make this, it could cost RM10/kg at wet markets. Then many years went on (I no longer frequent wet markets), supermarts or other hypermarts will go for RM6 something. Then Tesco came and played it bad, they sold it for RM3 something. Oh well, that year Giant, Carrefour and Jusco quickly reduced their price too, and I could remember how people grabbed the ngakus at Tesco. The following year, Tesco became even badder, going to RM2 something/kg. Me and my sis in law will be waiting for the Tesco workers to replenish the basket, with plastic bags in our hands, ever ready. And when they do refill, we couldn't even see our own hands or what we took, we could just take and put whatever into the bags cos there will be so many hands. I saw a man among the women,, he wasn't shy, and he shoved his arms thru the women's armpits and grabbed the arowheads by the handsful. If u felt groped, I'm so sorry that u won't know who did it cos there were so many arms. FYI, the wet markets at that time are still selling them at around RM6/kg, which explains the rush to grab.

These few years, there are no more arrowhead rushes.. as every hypermart is going for less than RM3/kg. So, u can take ur own sweet time to select and select and select. No need to grab under armpits or over shoulders.

I first tasted this fabulous oh so tasty, tastier than any Lays or Pringles chips way back in 1988. My friend, Siew Ping gave me some chips, fried by her Taiwanese mom. They tasted so different. They were ngaku chips, she told me. Well, I knew her mom, Mrs Loh as well, I always go to her house for some dough shaping sessions with her mom, especially during Siew Ping's birthdays, her mom always make us shape our own guotie. Mrs Loh taught me to peel, slice and pat the arrowhead slices on kitchen towels before frying. To me, pat all the slices????? That's super tedious!!! And super wasteful. I ignored that part of the instruction and just fried them right after slicing. And they turned out alright. Now I know why Mrs Loh only makes a small canister of it.

I know that most people know how to make this, but I'm not surprised that there are some who do not know. When I went to Jusco lately to get my arrowheads, a lady asked me, "What are these?"

"Ngaku lor" I answered.

"Oh.. so they look like this. How to select them?"

"Just get those with nice smooth butts, no cracks, then they'll be good"

"What else to do with them besides frying?"

"Lots..... bla bla bla bla bla.............."

**I'll try to post what we can do with arrowheads besides frying them into chips some other time.

Ok, so let me show you why buy those with no cracks...
In the cracks are dirt, and I'm sure u don't want to eat dirt. The deeper the crack the more dirt it'll have. Even if there's no dirt, the crevace will not give u a round flat chip, u'll still need to cut right up until u get a nice smooth surface. Wastage.

In this picture, u need to slice off 4 pieces to get a smooth clean surface. If for every ngaku u need to slice off few pieces, u'll lose a lot of chips. 4 pieces here is almost 30% of this bulb.

Now, how to fry the ngakus?

First, peel the ngakus, don't break off the stem. Use the stem as a handle when u slice it. Wash them clean of dirt and drain them. Slice them thinly. Do not wash after this. Water is the last thing the arrowhead slices ever need
U can use a food processor fitted with a slicing blade, but make sure u buy those that are smaller so that the bulbs can fit through the mouth of the feeder tube. If u use a food processor, u can cut off the stem.
Then heat a big wok of oil on medium heat. Throw in some salt (I prefer it this way, or u can salt them when fried). Add in sliced ngakus, piece by piece, vertically into the deepest part of the wok. Don't put too much. Make sure they don't overlap. If they do overlap, u must separate them fast.

Fry until there are no visible bubbles coming from the ngaku slice. (U can click on the pic to see an enlarged version)

Remove that piece to drain on paper. The ngakus won't be ready after putting in the ngakus slice by slice, get ready ur chopstick and strainer ladle to pick up whichever piece that no longer has bubbles.

**Prepare ur draining trays with newspaper on the bottom, and top with disposable kitchen towels.

U can salt them at this point when they are still hot, or if u're like me (put salt in oil), u need not salt them.
Let them cool down totally, then u can pack them into canisters or air tight tupperwares.

Chips not crunchy: U didn't fry until all the bubble are gone. No bubble means no more water in chips
Oily chips: Heat too low
Outer chip is brown but inside still fair and soft: Too high heat
Brown ends or brown spots on chips(as shown on right): Skin not peeled properly or bulb was bruised or not in good condition.

Pic: See the brown ends?? This slice was near the tip where I couldn't peel properly w/o breaking the stem, so there were bits of skin left.

U know what, I only bought 2kgs of ngakus at a RM2.90/kg. And I made enough to be sold for more RM60. Market price for fried chips are RM12/red cap plastic canister. This amount that I made can be put into more than 5 canisters. So.... u want to buy or make them urself????

I'm saving them for CNY, so Mike u can only eat whatever balance that I can't fit into these 2 large Enfagrow cans. Neh.. those at the back of the cans... see???? I fed those to him. :)


  1. I love arrowhead chips/crisps but I'm too lazy to make them so I will email this page to my sister and hint to her. Actually I seldom do deep frying in my kitchen. Very malas to clean up.
    I really admire you for being being so detailed and giving clear intructions. You know, I have learn alot from your blog. Thanks Wendy.BTW Im your senior from ACS(primary and secondary)Used to stay in NWL.

  2. Yummy Yummy, I have yet to buy ngaku, usually I wait till last minutes, because at that time the price is very cheap, hehehe..

  3. I tried this last year with mum but don't know why most of them come out soggy so we had to separate with the good ones and we were left with very little. So mum decided we don't make this this year.. hmmm.. but yours look like very successful!
    I have to agree that they are overpriced but it takes alot of hard work, plus me and mum knows that we don't have the skills to do this yet.

  4. Tracie,
    There's one section where I also included troubleshooting.
    Soggy oily chips means ur hot is not hot enough.
    Controlling the heat is vital to ensure pretty ngakus. Some ppl even resort to getting a electric pot (Those steamboat pots) to fry ngakus, because the temperature is constant.
    The first round I made this time, came out soggy, then I raised the heat very slightly.. and they turned out ok. Heat.. just take note of that.

  5. Vien,
    Thanks for recommending my site to ur sister :)
    NWL eh.. I stayed in AS,behind ACS Sec... a stone's throw only.

    I know it's cheaper just b4 CNY..but I just want to do it earlier, so that I can blog abt it. kekekeke. But 2.90 oredi cheap la, I'm not making a lot. If it goes down to 1.90, I'm saving total of RM2 only, and I don't mind the RM2 difference.

  6. my mom and sis do alot this year.but my mom said is spend a lot of time to fried them.


  7. I love chiku too, here in SG, ready chiku is sold very expensive around $12 for medium container with red cap.

    I tried few times, and the result not as thin as yours, and the crispy only last 1-2 days. Thanks for sharing the information, and I'm sure I will do better next time. :)

  8. I was first introduced to arrowhead chips 4 years ago but I didn't know what I was eating except that it tasted great. Finally made an effort to google and found out that all along, I've seen this plant @ my parents during cny. Never occur to me that they can be eaten.

    This is a very time-consuming chips, definitely not my cup of tea (making, that is). Yours look fab!

  9. Honestly I don’t like to use read more : ).
    It is not applicable if I save the post and read at home.
    Hence, I also don’t know how to do so.
    WAh… go down until rm2/kg…. let go to sampu lo….
    Paiseh… I don’t know this until I come to KL… a bit sakai right.
    wAlau er… I can make my own chip chip lo : ) hahahaha

  10. DG,
    SGD$12????? Wow!! I can sell this for SGD$8 to u.. kakakakaka.. and still make a whole lot of profit. U must fry it properly and keep it in an air tight container. Mine are crisp as long as I keep them air tight.

    Blessed Homemaker,
    Actually not very time consuming, all these took me less than 3 hours plus photography. Easier and faster than kneading bread. Haha!

    U sapu less than RM2/kg a week b4 CNY. Price always drop just before CNY. But too me very rush liao lor. Aiya, Sarawak cuisine different ma. I'm sure there're CNY goodies from there that we can't find here too. No sakai la...

  11. Hello Wendy. I enjoyed reading your posts. Very clear & nice photos too. I have not tasted this chips before. Seen arrowheads a lot in supermarkets here. When come to snacking I'm a bit lazy...hehe

  12. Home Kreation,
    There are some for sale in supermarkets, altho the question of Halal is present unless the source is stated.
    It's really tasty, better than any ubi, or Lays or cottage fries or whatever u can name.

  13. I cannot imagine myself doing nothing but peeling, slicing and frying! Think my hubby will "kill" me for not taking care of the kids! But I'm sure I'll attempt this in years to come, when the kids are older ;-)

  14. I have yet to buy arrowheads , this is one important ingredients for CNY dishes , we Cantonese eat a lot of these. Pls send one tin over to me ...... hahaha

  15. Blessed Homemaker,
    Aiya, no need do everything in one day. U can space out the work. U can peel and slice them, keep in fridge, then fry the next day.
    2 kg won't take u long.. don't do 10kg then ok oredi.

  16. AFTH,
    Eh, Ngo yau hai kong toong yan woh...

    Send one tin over... can can can.... barter for ur abalone porridge. Ur porridge so yummy la.

  17. lovely I love those chips!!

    in answer to ur question about the tart....I used the best choclate they had at Bake with Yen ....if u live in kl u can get it there. I hope that helps ..if u have anymore to ask plese dont hesitate to ask me.. ill be glad to help.
    Oh I dont remember the name of the brand,,,n ive thrown away the package m afraid... but thats the only good quality one they have there!

    btw thanks 4 dropping by.. I love ur blog :)))

  18. Fantastic post. I love ngaku! All those troubleshooting tips you shared are really very useful. Very generous of you.

  19. Ju,
    Thanks, I added that cos I found many people do not know where they went wrong. I've been doing this for more than 15 years.
    Soggy chips, burnt chips.. I've been thru all those.

  20. Hey Wendy, I just finished my first batch of Chigu!! And they taste fantastic! Chigu,fried are very expensive - S$12 for one plastic can.... I don't how much Chigu I bought - not many, probably 10 chigus for about $3, I think..

  21. Eh Wendy, how come my sis told me she has to fry piece by piece?! I think she can't "control" the flame and all get burnt fast.Her I know why they sell so expensive, have to fry piece by piece. haha,Im sure she is able to count how many pieces she fried.

  22. Vien, fry on medium heat. It's actually very easy, if too hot then just lower the heat.
    Or is it that she meant she has to put in piece by piece?? Anyway, hope she tries again. I wish her sucess.

  23. Shirley,
    Don't tell me this is the first time u're making this. First batch of the year or first batch ever??
    For $3 and u got more than 1 canister of chigus right??? Cheap Cheap!!

  24. First time ever!! Yes, much cheaper than outside :) and I couldn't stop eating.

  25. Last week went to wet market and bought, it's S$3 per kg here. Finally get it well done fried. Thanks again for sharing the information. :D

  26. Juz got it from my bos taste goood..but urs one are thinner than hers Wendy..very gud lor.. :p

  27. Shirley, Glad u ate non stop :)

    DG, Happy to hear u've done it well.

    Zeta, Haha, how thin they are depends on the slicer lor, not my skill. :)

  28. Yay! Wanyee has found the key to making perfect arrowhead chips! Dont forget to send me a tin ya! :)

  29. Siew Ping,
    Ur mom gave me the key :)

  30. Thank you Wendy! Now I understand what ngaku is....I don't think I ever saw them here. I guess they are only available in Asian stores again.
    Happy New Year to you and your family!


  31. Thanks Wendy for sharing the tips. But can i check with u, i find powder on the ngaku after peeling. Do i need to peel and soak the ngaku? Or wash the ngaku before i peel?


  32. Adel,
    I wash them after I peel. U can wash before u peel if they are very dirty and again after u peel to get rid of the bits of skin and dirt.

    I do not recommend u soak the ngaku, as soaking will bring more moisture into the ngaku and making it less crispy after being fried.
    The powder is the ngaku's starch, washing it off from the surface before u slice it is good enough. Drain it properly before u slice. The less moisture it has, the better it is, but dry and wrinkled ones are not good to slice.

  33. Hi,

    Found your blog from a search on 'arrowhead chips' after I fried some arrowhead sticks today. Like some other readers, I never knew what I was eating, thinking that it was a type of tapiaco/potato plant. Yours look perfectly like those sold during the Chinese New Year season! Learnt alot from reading your posts and now I MUST go buy a slicer:) Lovely pictures and useful instructions!

    My very rough arrowhead chips... I hope to do better the next time! Will follow your cooking tips.

  34. mumusings,
    Glad you find this post helpful
    Wish you all the best in your next arrowhead attempt.

  35. Hi Wendy, many thanks. I decided today to slice the arrowheads thinly (but not in the same direction) and throw them straight into the oil. Turned out okay. Will practise more on the slicing part and hope one day my arrowhead crisps will turn out as great-looking as yours.

  36. Hi Wendy,

    I like ur step by step method and thanks for ur tips. Did you need to dry it well after peeled?

  37. Jes,
    No, I just rinse off the dirt, and drain in colander while I slice lor. I didn't even wait after rinsing.
    Wash after u peel, before you slice, not after.

  38. After slicing I wash it thoroughly to remove the powdery starch until the water is clear. I did tried frying it direct after slicing without washing but it turned out brownish outside and pale in the middle. I find it much easier to fry after washing. I separate those round ones and broken ones. I use the fruit peeler to slice it thinly into a pail of water while holding the tip. Becareful not to slice your own hand. I grind the salt until powdery and springkle over the fried chips.

    Any idea why some of the chips curled when droped in the hot oil?


  39. Sally,
    It's brownish outside and pale inside because the oil is too hot.
    When you wash it, it soaks up water, therefore, doesn't cook at fast as unwashed ones.
    Sometimes I use a fruit peeler too, as long as it does the job of slicing.
    My guess on why it curled was that, the chips were too wet. When a piece of wood was soaked in water and dried with intense heat, you can see the wood curling up. I guess it could be the same principle, or try ironing your wet dollars, it curls up as well.

  40. You can slide it and add into thw wok, it would be more convenience. ^^

  41. Hong,
    Thank you for the suggestion. I know of that method, but somehow, I do not like placing my hands above the hot oil. I prefer that I throw in all the slices and remove my hand, this way, I feel safer.
    My sister in law who used to use your method, found it very hot and hard if one fries the chips for long. And when she had a frying session with me, found my method to be preferable.

  42. Hi wendy

    I actually tried frying the ngaku's for the 1st time yesterday....but very sad to say it was badly failed because all of them were soggy
    I actually try to follow your adv by increasing the heat....but do not understand why when i drain them at that time was crunchy, but then then later all turn soft and when put in the container one day after all become softer...
    so sad with the result after alot of work and effort on it...

    please advice....


  43. Sharon,
    Soggy with oil or moisture?
    If they were crunchy righ after fried, but turned soggy with moisture later, means, you left them outside too long
    And overnight is worse, is that your container is not air tight.
    Crunchy after fried means you fried them correctly oredi, but it's just the way you managed them later.

  44. Thanks for the very useful tips. Now I know why my Ngaku chips so oily

  45. What a gorgeously detailed and useful post! I only got to try these chips this year! I'm hooked!

  46. Hello,

    I live in Australia and can't get my hands on the ngaku, either raw or already cooked.

    Are you able to fry some up, put them in an airtight container and ship to Australia. I am very prepared to pay for your efforts.

    Alternatively, are you able to buy some tins of already cooked chiku and send them to me in Australia. Again I am very prepared to pay you a commission.

    Please let me know what you think.


  47. Sharon,
    Thankyou for your generous offer. Unfortunately, I can't get it for you NOW too. LOL.
    It's a seasonal item imported from China, available weeks before CNY.
    I think you can try to find it in Chinatown in January. Not any sooner.

  48. Hi Wendy,

    I tried doing a batch today using your method except that i sundried it for a day worrying that it might be too wet, but the pre-fried arrowhead turned to be too soft & brownish on the outside due to the sun drying... I will try again on my next batch for following ur method strictly ;p
    btw, it's sold in SG for S$2.6/ kg now... it's really a good experience in trying out, thanks for sharing

  49. benny,
    Oh never let them be exposed too long. It's soft because of the evaporated moisture from the sliced arrowheads. Nvm, the price will drop further and try it later :)

  50. Thank you for the wonderful tips. Tried frying the ngaku chips yesterday and it turned good. Just 1 question, how come the colour of the friend ngaku is much darker compared to those sold outside? The ones I fried turned out to be brown whereas those on sale outside has a yellow tone. Is it the oil that is used? I used Knife brand.

  51. Alyssa,
    I use Knife too.
    Maybe your heat is too high or you fried it too long. Mine is yellowish. Just like how you see it in the picture.
    Sometimes those that make commercially, use a deep fryer that can control the temperature precisely (in Degree C).

  52. I wanted to fry this using my Airfryer but I can't find fresh chiku in the supermarket near home. Prob make do with lotus roots chips this year.

  53. Hi, glad I found your website yesterday. Today I am back again. Intend to do Woo Har but I can't get any yam. It's already very last minute. Fortunately I saw some Nga Ku in Mydin (going for RM2.60 per kg) ~ what a bargain. I bought 2 kg and will fry them to bring home to my hometown tonite. Thank! Gong Xi Fa Cai to you!

    Btw, it's great that you offer some tips for us. At least I can know what I should look out for when frying the nga kus.

  54. Thanks for your tips. My arrowhead chips turned out fine. I started from 3pm and finished at 10.30pm. Oh,it's so tiring!

  55. thanks for the detailed explanation. I always thought that we have to slice the chi gu on top of the hot oil, else it will turn black after cutting.

  56. Caca,
    Oh, it doesn't. Slicing it on top of the hot oil just saves some work, but risky to your hands and arms, and tiring to the biceps. I prefer this way.

  57. Hi Wendy

    Thanks for sharing the tips! I tried frying it yesterday. Everything was ok except that it is too thin. Can I just check what slicer u use?



  58. Iris,
    Mine was a slicer from Daiso, shown in the pic

  59. Hi Wendy,

    I've tried to fry ngaku for the 1st time last 2 years after read yr blog. It turn out to be very crunchy but with brownish colour (not yellowish as yrs) but after 2 days it turns out to be soggy even i put them in an airtight container.

    Today i bought the ngaku again and will fried them tmrw. Hope it turns out Ok this time. Thanks for all the tips/troubleshooting. Very usefull. BTW, i'm malay who loves ngaku so much:-)

  60. Wan,
    Hmmm.... weird hoh, how come it turned soggy.
    I hope you 2nd endeavour turns out better. Good luck!

  61. I never noticed our Chinese supermarket had these. I looked and there they were. They weren't as clean looking as those in your picture. So I bought about 10 for my first try. My slicer wasn't as sharp so much was wasted. They were very tasty. Reminded me a bit of a mild taro. We tried baking them but left them in too long. Too brown. I'll have to use the food processor slicer to get a better result. Too embarrassed to take photos to show you. Thanks for the recipe. My kids liked them a lot!

  62. Thank you for the tips...first time I fried Ngaku chips...i dont have the vegetable i tried to slice it as thin as food processor produced much thicker slices . Why the ngaku root burst while in the hot oil? scared me as it because the slices were too thick? i too get soggy chips after i stored the fried ngaku :(

    After reading your blog, I will try to improve on my skills...hopefully i can store mine as crispy as yours...would be veryy nice to be able to munch on it while watching tv :) Will try to buy some ngaku again (hopefully still available kan ) Bye..

  63. Clara,
    Sometimes I use a fruit peeler to slice it. As long as it gets sliced, any tool will be fine.
    Psttt: FB pm me the pics la!

    I think the ngaku were wet la, that's why the sputtering happened.
    Keeping in formula/milo cans is better than plastic containers
    Cepat beli.. tinggal tak lama lagi :)

  64. Hi may i know do you supply chiku chips? If have i would like to order from you. Thanks :)

  65. May I know where did you buy the instrument to slice the arrowheads?

  66. Hi. I know the post is quite long ago, but im quietw interested in making the arrowheads chips. How long do you think i can keep the arrowheads after buying them? Thanks in advance.

  67. Adiba,
    Just keep the whole bag into the fridge. It can keep well. I kept for 2 weeks before, but it depends on the condition of the arrowheads themselves when you purchased them.

  68. Hi Wendy
    thanks for your wonderful instructions on making the chips.
    Just wonder can we use the airfryer to fry them?

  69. Gina,
    Maybe you can, just spray each piece with some oil and lay them out piece by piece on the air fryer net. I'm sure you can do it. But it might take a very long time to fry all these

  70. Hi wendy,

    I just want to ask some question,
    Can ngaku keep outside the fridge or need to keep it inside the fridge after buy it?

    Because i already open the whole bag and put it in a bowl inside the fridge

    Im afraid that it doesnt last longer..

  71. shuhulpps,
    I don't know how long you want to keep it at room temperature, but supermarket and markets do keep them out for sale for many, many hours. Like any moist root vegetables, it's not advisable to keep them uncovered to dry up, even in the fridge. They will sprout if you leave them out (for 2-3days) exposed to sunlight, it can be planted in water and pebbles for a nice tabletop plant.

  72. Dear Wendy. Thank u for sharing the recipe. I've been going around surveying. Please don't call it ARROWHEAD because arrowhead is a poisonous plant. It's correct name is ARROWROOT or ngaku. Arrowroot chips.

  73. Anonymous (1/2/2018),
    Please leave a name.
    Usually I do not reply comments that has no names, but for this, I do have to say.
    Arrowhead is the correct name. There are many types of arrowheads just like there are many types of yam.
    Arrowroot, is totally different and the following plants are all arrowroots. Zamia integrifolia, Maranta arundinacea, Tacca leontopetaloides or even Pueraria montana, of which is the Chinese arrowroot, but arrowroot is definitely not Sagittaria sagittifolia.

    Sagittaria sagittifolia, of which is what this tuber is, is ARROWHEAD. I will not rename it due to some people who has issues and cannot recognize pictures of the correct tuber to be used and consumed.

    If anyone still has any issues recognizing the correct ingredient in this post, even with all the pictures, please refer to

  74. Ya arrowroot is usually referring to Maranta sp. Arrowhead can refer to a few plants, including Saggitaria sagitifolia aka ngaku. Of course it also applies to the poisonous Syngodium, hence common names are always confusing if not accompanied by a reference to the scientific name. So Wendyinkk is correct to call it arrowhead.


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