Hokkien Hae Mee (Prawn Noodles) in a spicy flavorful broth served with shrimp, slices of pork, bean sprouts, and water spinach. A must try!
Hokkien Hae Mee or Mee Yoke as we call it in Kuala Lumpur originated from Penang, where it is simply known as Hokkien Mee. This noodle soup has since become popular in the other urban centers in Peninsula Malaysia. As the name suggests, this delectable dish has its roots in the maritime Hokkien (Fujianese) cities in China and acquired its spicy flavor in the warm tropics. Like all favorite urban dishes, the debate on the best Hokkien mee rages in both Penang and Kuala Lumpur.
Long Queue for Hokkien Hae Mee
In many of the best Hokkien Mee stalls, the wait is long and fraught with the anguish. Often times the stall will run out of ingredients or soup. It is not uncommon for patrons to agree to a stripped-down version with only the noodles and the soup when the accompanying toppings and condiments run out. Such is the draw of a good bowl of Hokkien Mee.
Hard to believe Nona-Nona is into its fourth month running. So far, Denise and I have prepared kerabu (a Nyonya or Malay salad), used sardines, and made Chinese kuih. Since noodles make up a big part of the Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine, it is only fitting that one of Nona-Nona’s theme should feature this ingredient. Therefore, I suggested Hawker Noodles (peddler or street vendor noodles) for today’s theme and Denise quickly agreed. I do not have a clue as to what Denise has prepared. I hope it is not prawn noodles. 😉 Let’s hop over to her blog, Singapore Shiok kitchen to find out.
Fresh Yellow/Egg Noodles
The fresh mee (yellow egg noodles) and koay teow (flat-cut rice noodles) in Malaysia and Singapore are some of the best I have eaten and they are consumed at all times of the day. When fried like in Char Koay Teow (fried rice noodles) or combined with a tasty soup as in Koay Teow Th’ng (soupy rice noodles) or Hokkien Hae Mee (prawn noodles), the combination is out-of-this-world. It is the very quality of the different noodles that sustain the popularity of the top 5 noodle dishes in Penang – Hokkien mee, Asam Laksa, Char Koay Teow, Koay Teow Th’ng, and Curry Mee/Laksa. Over here, I am just thankful for whatever fresh or frozen noodles offered at the Asian markets.
Hokkien Hae Mee – Must-Eat Dish in Malaysia
It is almost impossible to find Hokkien Hae Mee here in Minnesota. This is one of the must-eat dishes for me when I visit Malaysia. During my recent trip, I ate it twice – once in Petaling Jaya (the one I usually go to when I visit) and the other time in Kuala Lumpur (recommended by my brother). Both soups were richly flavored with shrimps and pork. To get that deep shrimp flavor, the shrimp head and shells are fried, blended, and mixed into the soup. The soup is already slightly spicy but the punch comes from the additional chili condiment served as a side to be stirred into the soup. It’s delicious!
Hard Boiled Egg
Many noodle dishes are served with eggs in Malaysia. Often times, slices of hard boiled egg are added as a topping in Hokkien Hae Mee. I omitted the egg this time.
I did take a short-cut using Korean chili paste, gochujang this time but here is my homemade Fried Chili Paste. It is easier than it looks and well worth the effort. I hope you will give it a try. 🙂
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Hokkien Hae Mee (Prawn Noodles)
- 1 lb shrimps (shell on) (450g)
- 1 lb bone-in country style pork ribs (225g)
- ½ lb pork belly (225g)
- 5 tbsp vegetable oil
- 8 shallots or 1 large onion, peeled and finely sliced
- 8 shallots or 1 large onion, peeled and blended
- 4 tbsp chili paste
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 12 oz bean sprouts (trimmed) (340g)
- 4 oz kangkung / ong choy / water spinach (115g)
- 1 lb fresh yellow noodles (450g)
- Peel shrimps, reserving the shell. Do not discard. Pat dry with paper towels.
- In a large pot, bring about one third pot of water to boil. Add pork ribs and pork belly. Continue to boil for 5 minutes. Remove pork ribs and pork belly with a pair of thongs. Discard water.
- Fill the same pot with 10 cups (2.4 liters) of water. Bring it to a boil. Return pork ribs and pork belly to the pot. Lower heat and allow it to simmer.
- Heat 4 tablespoons vegetable oil in a medium sized pan. Add sliced shallots and fry until fragrant and golden brown in color, about 5 minutes. Remove with strainer and set aside.
- Add blended onion and fry for about 3 minutes. Add chili paste and continue to fry for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil into the same pan. Add shrimp shells and fry until shells turn pink, about 3 minutes. Remove and allow fried shrimp shells to cool slightly. Blend the shells in a food processor until fine. Transfer to a filter bag.
- Place filter bag and 2 tablespoons of cooked chili paste (keep the remaining as condiment) to the soup. Season with salt and allow soup to simmer for 1½ hours.
- After half an hour of simmering, remove pork belly. When cool enough to handle, slice thinly and set aside.
- In the meantime, fill a separate pot half full of water. Bring to a boil. Scald bean sprouts for about 20 seconds. Remove with a metal strainer. Do the same for water spinach. Discard water.
- Refill pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add noodles and allow it to cook for about 3 minutes or according to packaging instructions. Do not overcook. Remove with metal strainer.
- When soup is done, remove pork ribs and filter bag with processed shrimp shells. Discard filter bag. Remove meat from pork ribs or discard. Add fish sauce and shrimps to the soup and allow it to cook for about 3 minutes until shrimps curl and turn pink. Remove and set aside.
- Place a portion of noodles, bean sprouts, and water spinach in a bowl. Pour soup over noodles and vegetables. Top with shrimps, sliced streaky pork, and reserved chili condiment. Serve immediately.
NOTE: The original publication of this post was on July 16th, 2012. This republication comes with changes to the writeup but the recipe remains the same.