Feb 2, 2014

Food Experiment #7: Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee

I’m sick of roasting stuff. Hence this Food Experiment. The Hokkien Prawn Mee.

This dish is a staple in Singapore’s Hawker Centres and, if done well, it should taste of prawns infused into the thick yellow and white noodles. So much so that it should be gravy-slurping good.

Fried Prawn Hokkien Mee

As with all food experiments, this is my first time making it. It wasn’t too bad, but lacked bite – more in the verdict.

I found the original recipe from My Wok Life

You’ll Need These Ingredients:

For the Stock

  • Prawns, lots of prawns
  • Ikan Billis  

For the Dish

  • 250g of yellow noodles
  • 250g of white bee hoon
  • Prawns, lots of prawns
  • Beansprouts, lots of it ‘cause I love vegetables
  • 150g of pork belly
  • 2 eggs, beaten

For the Flavouring

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
  • 120ml of oil

Instructions and “Did it Work?”

1. Prepping the Foods

Shell and devein the prawns. Keep the shells for making stock.

Fried Prawn Hokkien Mee - Prawns Fried Prawn Hokkien Mee - Prawns, shelled and deveined

Tip: I usually start working on them once they’re out of the freezer. If you’re not masochistic, thaw them out first before decapitation and shelling.

Cut up the pork belly into thin columns. Firstly, cut the pork belly into slices, then cut them up into small long columns.

My Wok Life (see link above) details how to make Pork Lard. But I gave it a miss.

Fried Prawn Hokkien Mee - Pork Belly, sliced

Wash the beansprouts and Ikan Billis. Pick out the blackheads from the bean sprouts.

Fried Prawn Hokkien Mee - Beansprouts Fried Prawn Hokkien Mee - Ikan Billis, stock

2. Making the Stock

Heat up the wok with a big fire. Make sure that it’s hot before starting.

Dry  fry the prawns and Ikan Billis until they’re a little charred. Once it releases the smells – and you’ll know it – add water until it covers the mix.

Fried Prawn Hokkien Mee - Ikan Billis and prawns, dry fry for stock

Bring it to a boil and turn down the heat to low. Leave it for 30 min to leech umaminess out of the prawns. Keep an eye on the stock so that it doesn’t dry out. Add more water or reduce the fire.

Fried Prawn Hokkien Mee - Ikan Billis and prawns, stock simmer

Strain and transfer to a pot or massive bowl.

3. Cooking the Noodles 

Yellow noodles are incredibly oily and alkaline tasting. Blanch very quickly (10 sec) in hot water and leave aside to make it lighter.  

Fried Prawn Hokkien Mee - Yellow noodles, blanch

Heat up the wok on medium heat. Add oil and wait for it to bubble.

Add garlic and stir fry until fragrant. Add pork belly slices. Midway through – just when the pork belly starts to cook – add sesame oil and soy sauce for fragrance and wankfull sizzle.

Stir fry like you’ve “gone madder than a bastard on Father’s Day” (src: Transmetropolitan). 

Fried Prawn Hokkien Mee - pork belly, stir fry

Add the noodles. Loosen up the noodles, then add the stock.

* Now I’ve added too much stock for this Food Experiment. Instead of covering the noodles with stock, just add until it’s halfway full.

Cover the wok and let it simmer on low fire. Every now and then, uncover and flip the noodles around so that the bottom doesn’t stick.

We want the noodles to soak up as much of the prawn stock as possible. This should take about 5 minutes.

Fried Prawn Hokkien Mee - Hokkien Mee with prawn stock, braise

Once done – the stock should be a thick gravy now – turn up the heat to high, add the prawns and bean sprouts. Stir fry until cooked (3 minutes), then add the eggs.

Fried Prawn Hokkien Mee - Hokkien Mee with prawns, stir-fry

Two schools of thought about eggs:

  1. Some say to add and fry immediately
  2. Some say to make a space on the wok, fry the eggs and once it’s a little cooked, incorporate it into the noodles.

I used the former approach for this Food Experiment. But hey, it’s your call.

Once done, plate and serve. The Hokkien Mee should be draped in prawn stock gravy. If not, you’ve overcooked it.

Fried Prawn Hokkien Mee - Hokkien Mee with eggs, stir-fry

Verdict

Making foods over a naked fire is quite different from roasting. It boils down – and not being pun-ny here – to control of the fire itself. The noodles were mushy and full of prawny goodness.

But it’s not like the Hokkien Mee served in Hawker Centres.

The next effort will include:

  • Braise the noodles with half of the stock
  • Cook the eggs before incorporating it into the noodles

I guess it should work better that way then.



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