Traditional goodies: Arrowroot (Nga Koo)

Freshly peeled bulbs of arrowroo

Every year, you’ll find cans and containers of all sizes containing arrowroot chips, or nga koo, for sale. The bulbs are grated into thin slices and then deep fried in oil to give it its signature golden hue. It looks like potato chips but has a different and root (as well as more appetizing, IMHO) taste. The ones we make aren’t salted which makes it a whole lot different from those which are commercially available.

Grating them bulbs!

The trouble with these little babies is this: you have to peel off the skin, wash the bulb, dry them with a cloth and then grate them into thin slices before frying them. If that is not bad enough, frying takes time and some skill. Too white and it means the chips are not cooked. Too dark and it is burnt.

Thin slices of arrowroot

Me and Mum spent about seven hours from start to finish, working on more than five kilos – Mum estimates about six to seven kilos – on these damn things, peeling, grating, frying and all. After a while, it gets really tedious and frankly, utterly boring. By the time we reached the last few slivers, you could almost see me and Mum jumping for joy!


These chips (a lot of which are heavily salted – UGH!) retail from anywhere between RM16 to RM24 and the six kilos of raw arrowroot bulbs retails for RM2.99 per kilo. Why? You think about it for a second – seven hours of peeling, grating and frying. Anyway, I wouldn’t recommend eating this like crazy simply because of the oil content even though it’s just a once-in-a-year sort of thing.

Immediately after being fried!

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