It’s been a long long hiatus that I’ve taken. I blame Instagram. Grainy photos behind retro-esque filters and uninspired dishes. In any case, I’m hoping this entry won’t be like the last one – the last one for a long while.
So I guess from now, I’ll be using more than a couple of Instagramasised photograph. Fingers crossed that’ll work out well.
Alas! The first of the list is Instant Mee Pok! Mee Pok (translated from Chinese dialect as ‘thin noodles’) is a flat egg noodle used a lot in Singapore to make Fishball Noodles and Mushroom Minced Pork Noodles. They say the first creators of pasta were actually the Chinese; Italians apparently discovered it much later. In any case, Mee Pok is usually cooked fresh and unless you buy them fresh from the market or make them yourself, you won’t get a chance to have them this far from East Asia. But, but, BUT! I stumbled upon a pack of dried instant Mee Pok at Chinatown last week. Well, it isn’t quite exactly the same thing as its fresh counterpart, but I’d say it comes pretty damned close.
I am a happy boy.
(Follow me on Instagram @skinnynigel or #skinnynigel)
This is the Kuala Lumpur variant of Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodles, similar to the usual Chinese Stir-Fry, but going crazy with the rendered lard and dark soy sauce, the darker the better.
- Get your noodles, or linguine boiling in a pot and have your ingredients all ready. Drain your noodles or pasta as soon as they’re done. This is important ‘cos stir-frying is a whizz, no time for chopping carrots while your garlic is burning away into a pile of charred lumps.
- In a screaming hot wok of a tablespoon of oil, get your slices of Chinese sausage, or lardons in.
- Add minced garlic, minced onion and a slice of ginger into the wok to flavour the oil.
- Welcome the Aroma Fairies.
- Carrots go in ‘cos they take longer to cook through.
- Once your carrots are almost done, add a small bit of oil and crack in a egg, stirring it about erratically till about done.
- Then, add in your marinated (minus soy sauce) Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pork, stir-frying it with small quantities of the noodle boiling water.
- Toss in leafy green vegetables and drained noodles.
- Go crazy with the dark soy sauce till it’s all nice and blackish. (Bear in mind that doing this can get VERY salty, so the darker the soy sauce, the better.)
- Season with light soy sauce if necessary.
- Add a generous pinch of sugar and still happily away.
I confess, I am currently obsessed with the ballotine. Rolling meat into a tight bundle and then cooking it makes me happy. It doesn’t help that there is such a sense of excitement when the time is nigh to slice it.
Alright, so maybe pork isn’t so appetising in a ballotine. In any case, a drizzle of sesame oil elevates its flavour immensely. Served with ultra-thin rice noodles, carrot mash and seared lettuce, I am definitely playing with my food.
French-style cooking and Asian flavours, at its best.
To all those overseas who crave the good ol’ Tze Char Noodles, I’d like to share this recipe with you. It’s not exactly the same as what you’d get for cheap in the neighbourhood restaurant you frequent weekly back in Singapore, but it’ll serve to satisfy your cravings.
What you’ll need:
- prepared ingredients for Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pork
- 1 serving of quick-cook spaghetti
- 1 generous handful of spinach leaves
- 2 inches of a medium sized carrot, sliced into small inch-long pieces
- half a red onion, sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- a couple of fresh mushrooms, quartered (optional)
- 1 tsp of vegetable oil
- 2-3 tbsp of oyster sauce
How to do it:
- Get the pasta cooking in a pot. And place a wok on another hob, turned up to full whack.
- Add the garlic and onion into the wok to flavour the oil.
- Welcome the Aroma Fairies.
- Carrots go in ‘cos they take longer to cook through.
- Toss the pork in and add water from the pasta bit by bit, stir-frying till just done.
- If you’re having mushrooms with this, dump them in now.
- Add the oyster sauce and grab some pasta water to pour into the wok, till ingredients are almost completely submerged. Mix and watch your gravy form.
- Turn off the heat and drain your pasta. Get them in, together with the spinach leaves. Toss about till the spaghetti is coated with all the gravy goodness, and till the vegetable leaves have wilted just a little.
- Serve hot, with Pickled Green Chilli. More on that soon.
It’s been a while since I’ve been back to Singapore, and aside from many other things, I miss the food there. I thought I was dealing fine with the abstinence of Singaporean cuisine, until I was reminded of my beloved Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee. My stomach grumbled to the rhythm of the words as they entered my ears. No, I’m not talking about the black sauce variant from Kuala Lumpur.
I’m talking about this:
It’s far from anything you’d get in the hawker centres back in Singapore, but it’ll do. Craving, momentarily satisfied.
What you’ll need:
- Fresh yellow egg noodles
- Fresh white rice noodles
- Whole prawns, heads and shell on
- Pork belly
- Pork lardons (optional)
Prawn Soup Stock
- Before you get down to frying the noodles, you gotta have the prawn soup stock ready. Here’s how I did mine. Peel and shell the prawns, then cut the squid into rings. Into a pot, dump the prawn peelings and heads. Also, in goes the peeled prawns, squid and pork belly. Here, I like adding a couple of smashed garlic cloves too. Then fill the pot with boiling water so that there’s just enough to cover what’s inside. Let it boil away before turning it down to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, so it eventually becomes a peppery and tasty almost-thick sort of soup.
- Keep a check on the peeled prawns, squid and pork belly. Once they’re just cooked, fish them out. Slice the pork belly thinly and set all aside.
Fried Prawn Noodles
- In a screaming hot wok, drizzle some oil.
- This next step is strictly optional. Fry bit of pork lardons and remove when brown and crispy. Leave the rendered fat in the wok. It is liquid gold.
- Then, in goes an egg. Erratically break and beat it as it cooks.
- Before the egg gets proper fried, toss in the noodles, both yellow and white. Add a ladle-full of that awesome prawn soup stock you made earlier. This will soften the noodles. Stir till there is no more soup left in the wok.
- Toss in the beansprouts and stir about.
- Then, add another ladle-full of the soup stock and cover the wok for at least 20 seconds. This is an extremely important yet understated step. Commonly overlooked, this will allow the noodles to absorb all the goodness from the soup stock.
- Remove the lid and toss in the cooked prawns, squid and sliced pork belly.
- Moving everything in the wok aside, make space for a teaspoon of chopped garlic. Fry that till fragrant, before combining with the noodles and all.
- At this stage, I like to add the bits of crispy fried lard to join the party. Heart-stoppingly extravagant.
- Add a little more soup stock to wet the noodles. In my opinion, the best of this dish are those that have gravy to slurp at the end.
- Chives go in, while the fire goes out.
- Serve with more chives atop, a halved lime and some kickass sambal, which I haven’t tried my hand at making, yet. This time, I substituted with trusty feisty chilli padi.
- Welcome a couple of Aroma Fairies, then dig in right away. Your stomach cannot wait any longer. For me, I’d like to commend Will Power for allowing me to take a photo before savagely devouring the noodles and all its brilliance.
If you wanna make a Chinese Stir-Fry and have no Asian egg noodles in your kitchen cupboard, then spaghetti or linguine works just as well. Just make sure you have all the essential ingredients:
- chopped garlic
- a slice of ginger
- dark soy sauce
- light soy sauce
- oyster sauce (bonus)
Pork is usually my meat of choice for stir-fry ‘cos for some reason, I think it tastes the most Chinese. Onions, mushrooms, shrimps, egg, spinach, beansprouts, chillies, even cheese is up to you. Whatever makes you happy.
Garlic and ginger, almost like the yinyang of Chinese Stir-Fry.
I was blog surfing just yesterday and I came across gninethree‘s entry, when all of a sudden, my Singaporean taste buds started making a ruckus in my mouth. They demanded some Bak Chor Mee. To translate, it’s Minced Pork Noodles, a true blue Singaporean pasttime.
With whatever I had in the kitchen, this is the best I could come up with:
Mee kia (Skinny Egg Noodles) from Chinatown, jia la jia cu (extra chilli extra vinegar). Remember to add a dab of sesame oil and soy sauce too!
Slice some pork and mince the pork yourself; pork shoulder’s the ideal choice. If you have a couple of slices of pork liver, that’s awesome. As for the mushrooms, (obviously) black oyster mushrooms are best. But what’s crucial is slow cooking them in garlic, dark soy sauce and a little oyster sauce. LUSH. Along with fresh lettuce, beansprouts are a huge plus, which I didn’t have. :/ Finally, the all-important Chilli Padi.
P.S. Fried lard is a bonus.
With all this, the taste of Singapore’s not that far away. (:
Had a late night on Skype yesterday and hence, a Good Morning-turned-Afternoon today. :/ I woke up feeling terribly hungry. I needed food, and I needed it FAST.
Then, I remembered having a new bag of Taiwanese Yellow Noodle Sticks, which I got from Chinatown last month. :D
The 7-Minute Beef Noodles Trick:
- Set two pots on the hob (each with a little bit of water so they don’t burn) and turn the switches to full whack.
- Boil water in an electric kettle, just enough to cook your noodles and a little more for soup.
- Grab beef from freezer, defrost it in the microwave.
- Chop carrots and onions and toss into one of the pots.
- Water should have boiled by now. Fill one enough to cook noodles and the other (with the carrots and onions) for soup.
- Crush a garlic clove, powder-chop a single clove and toss into the soup pot, together with an inch of a cinnamon stick. Don’t forget pepper, salt, and dark soy sauce for colour. You would also want to add a small splash of vinegar, which will help make the beef more tender.
- Toss the noodles sticks into boiling pot of water.
- Get the beef out of the microwave and cut to bite size pieces. Toss into soup pot.
- Stand and look pretty for 3 minutes.
- No, I’m kidding. Prepare spring onions, coriander and serving bowl.
- Wash everything you don’t need to help you dig into your Express Beef Noodles.
- Turn off both hobs.
- Drain noodles with a colander and sit it in the serving bowl. Rinse-wash colander and pot.
- Pour beef and soup over the noodles. Top off with spring onions and coriander. Wash soup pot.
- Dig in.
I can’t guarantee it will taste very good the first few times.
But with practice and sheer hunger for good savoury asian-tasting food, you’ll get it soon enough. (: