Lor bak

Lor bak

Leanne Kitchen

A Nonya favourite from Penang, lor refers to the dipping sauce and bak to the meat, typically pork but, for halal versions chicken is used. What never changes is the wallop of five-spice powder, which fragrances these crisp, meaty rolls. Traditionally associated with Chinese–Malaysian festivals, lor bak is an essential snacking item found all over Penang any time of year.


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons plain flour
80g sheets of dried tofu skin
vegetable oil, for deep-frying


Quantity Ingredient
800g pork fillet, trimmed and cut into thin strips
200g raw king or tiger prawns, peeled, deveined and finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons five-spice powder
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon shaved palm sugar
2 tablespoons potato starch
3 teaspoons sesame oil
100g water chestnuts, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten

Dipping sauce

Quantity Ingredient
150ml plum sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 teaspoons tapioca starch or cornflour


  1. For the filling, combine the pork, prawn meat, five-spice powder, oyster sauce and palm sugar in a bowl and stir to combine well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients and season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
  3. For the dipping sauce, combine the plum sauce, lime juice, sugar and 125 ml water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  4. Combine the tapioca starch with 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl and stir until a smooth paste forms. Stirring the sauce constantly, add it to the mixture in the saucepan. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until it comes to the boil and thickens. Remove from the heat and cool.
  5. Combine the plain flour in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons water and mix to form a smooth paste. Cut the tofu skin into 17 x 21 cm pieces.
  6. Fill a small bowl with cold water. Working with one piece at a time, lay a rectangle of tofu skin on a work surface. Dip your hand in the water and lightly rub the surface of the tofu skin with water to soften it a little. With a narrow end facing you, put 2 tablespoons of the filling, in a neat sausage about 9 cm long, along the edge. Fold the sides over the filling, then roll the tofu skin over the filling 2 or 3 times to form a log – don’t roll it the whole length of the skin or the lor bak won’t be crisp. Trim the excess skin then brush a little of the paste along the edge and press the edge to seal. Repeat with the remaining pieces of skin and filling.
  7. Heat enough oil for deep-frying in a large wok until it reaches 180°C, or until a cube of bread turns golden in 15 seconds. Fry the rolls, in batches, for about 6 minutes, turning them occasionally so they colour evenly and are golden, crisp and the filling is cooked through. Drain well then transfer to paper towel briefly to drain any remaining oil. Serve hot with the dipping sauce.
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