Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee
Visitors to Southeast Asia, especially to Singapore and some Malaysian towns might have noticed or even tried Hokkien Mee at some local Chinese food stalls. There are two types of Hokkien Mee. One type is cooked using dark soy sauce. It looks wet and is more like a stew. This type is quite commonly seen in Malaysia. Occasionally, it is erroneously called "Fried" Hokkien Mee. So be careful what you're ordering. Observe what people are eating before you order.
The other type is cooked using light soy sauce and looks dry. Common consensus seems to indicate that the dry type is unique to Singapore. More specifically, it is called Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee.
Hokkien Mee and Rice Noodle.
Hokkien Mee is a type of ready-cooked yellow wheat noodle originating from Fujian province in Southern China. The Singapore version requires the use of some thin rice noodle (Bee Hoon/ Mai Fun/ Mi Fen) together with the Hokkien Mee. Stir frying of rice noodle improves 'wok hei'- the aroma that comes with searing of food (in a wok). Hokkien mee is by itself quite fragrant, due to the inclusion of eggs during its manufacture. However, as it is made of wheat, it is less easy to be digested, as compared to rice noodle. For these reasons, cooking is done using about equal proportions of both noodles. The use of lard is essential to bring out the full flavour of the noodles.
The noodles is taken together with some sambal belacan chilli and lime. These are offered as condiments and placed on one side of the plate. The small Calamansi lime is cut at one end. Lime juice is squeezed out onto a spoon provided, while the seeds, which taste bitter, are trapped within the spoon. The small amount of lime juice is then spread evenly over the plate of noodles. Lime juice can relief the oily feeling of Hokkien Mee.
Sambal belacan is made from fresh chilli pounded with belacan in a mortar, with sugar and salt added. Belacan is a type of fermented shrimp paste popular among the Malay people in South East Asia. It is made from tiny shrimps fermented in brine. It comes in the form of a dried cake. Making sambal belacan is tedious.
Nowadays it is possible to buy small amounts of ready made sambal belacan from sundry goods stalls or from supermarkets. It either comes in the form of a small cup-sized glass bottle or in a small packet. Tee po dust is dried and barbecued turbot (flatfish) pounded by a pestle in a mortar, until it is pulverized.
Soak the dry rice noodle in a pot of warm water for about 15 minutes, until it becomes springy and pliable. A little oil may be added to prevent sticking. Pour the pot of noodle into a colander. Set it aside and allow to dry.
Peel off the skin off the squids, blanch in hot water and cut into ring-shaped pieces.
Remove the head and shell of the prawn. Blanch the prawns in hot water. Remove prawns from water and set aside.
Using a heavy Chinese cleaver, slap the back end of the blade smartly on the garlic and remove the peels. Chop garlic into pieces.
Cut the onions into pieces.
Cut pieces of pork into strips and stir fry until crispy. The pork used should contain some layers of fat.
Ingredients for stock preparation.
Prawn shell and heads, 300 g.
Garlic, 3 cloves, minced.
Oil, 4 Tbs.
Water, 3 cups.
Black pepper, 1 tsp.
Salt, 1/2 tsp.
Fish sauce, to taste.
Stock is made from prawn shell and prawn heads. Heat up the skillet and add oil. When oil gets hot and starts sizzling, add minced garlic and stir fry until fragrant. Add prawn shell and stir fry until its color turns pink and smells fragrant. Add some salt, fish sauce and pepper. Add water after 1 minute. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and pour contents into a colander sitting on a collection bowl. Discard prawns shell and heads.
Ingredients for Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee (serve 2)
Oil/ Lard, 5 Tsp.
Garlic, minced, 4 cloves.
Egg, beaten, 2.
Wheat noodle (Hokkien mee), 100g.
Rice noodle (Bee Hoon), 150g.
Prawn stock (shrimp stock), 4 ladle full.
Pork, sauteed, 50g.
Prawn, pre-boiled, 6 medium sized.
Squid rings, pre-boiled, 8 rings.
Fish cakes, sliced, 6 pcs.
Spring onions, 2 stalks cut into 5 cm length.
Calamansi lime, cut at one end, 2 nos.
Sambal belacan, 2 nos.
Light soy sauce, 1 Tbs.
Oyster sauce/ Hoi sin sauce, 1 Tbs.
Red chilli, sliced, 2 nos (optional).
Tee po dust, a sprinkle (optional).
Heat up the wok and oil, crack 2 eggs and stir fry. Add noodles. Continue to fry. Add 1 ladle of shrimp stock and fry until noodles is seared but not burned. Add another ladle of shrimp stock. Cover with lid and braise for about 20 seconds. Remove lid, add remaining ingredients. Push the noodles to one side of the wok. Add garlic, let it get seared and become fragrant, then mix with the noodles.
Wet noodles with shrimp stock and continuing frying until it is somewhat dry but not burned. Sprinkle some spring onions. Transfer onto plate. Serve with calamansi lime and sambal belacan. The noodles should be taken while it is still warm.
When I was growing up,
takeaway cooked food used to be wrapped up in an "o-peh" leaf. An Opeh leaf is actually the frond of the Areca Palm tree. The Malays call it Upih Pokok Pinang. While it is still piping hot, the noddle is transferred from the wok onto a large Opeh leaf and wrapped up immediately. The excess liquid of the noodle gets infused with the dried Opeh for about 10 minutes and bring the wok hei of the noodle to the highest level.
Nowadays, some pretentious stall operators like to place a redundant piece of Opeh leaf on the plate of noodles when serving. Somehow, the anticipated aroma of Opeh is no longer there.
Another use of the Opeh is to play a game of sledge towing by children during kampong days. One child sits on and hold onto the large end of the frond, while another hold on to the small end and tow it along. The Malays call this game "tarek Upih" meaning pulling the Opeh.
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Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee.
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