Hokkien Mee, otherwise known as Hokkien Char, is the regionally recognised braised noodles we’ve all come to know and love. Not to be confused with Penang Hokkien Mee—which is known in Kuala Lumpur as prawn noodles—the KL creation is made with a fragrant dark sauce, pork lard and the wonderful magic of ‘wok hei’.
‘Wok hei’ is translated as the breath of a wok, and can be difficult to recreate at home due to its need for intense heat and skilful tossing of the food in a cast iron wok. Traditionally, these noodles are cooked over burning charcoal to achieve a smoky aroma and flavour.
Local hawker stalls selling Hokkien Mee are scattered all over the Klang Valley, so it’s not a rare find for those who well-versed in the KL food scene. However, it isn’t hard to recreate it at home.
Hokkien Mee is made using yellow noodles, which are easily accessible at grocers and wet markets. Just look for the yellow noodles jammed in vacuum-sealed packaging, and you’re set to go! The (not so secret) recipe for the flavourful dark sauce is to add pi hu (dried flounder) or anchovies powder. You can also toss in some fish cakes depending on your personal preferences.
With that, here’s a simple recipe on how to make deliciously sinful Hokkien Mee at home.
50g of sliced pork belly, skin removed
1 tbsp of chu yau cha (crispy pork lard)
1 tbsp of oil
1 tbsp of oyster sauce
2 tbsp of soy sauce
3 tbsp of dark soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 tsp of anchovies powder
300g of yellow noodles
400ml of water
50g of prawns
30g of choy sum (Chinese flowering cabbage)
Salt and pepper to taste
- Peel the prawns and remove the tails.
- Wash and slice the choy sum into smaller strips, discarding the thick stems.
- Preheat the wok over medium temperature, then pour in the oil or pork lard. Add the minced garlic and pork belly slices into the wok, sautéing for several seconds until they turn brown.
- Mix the soy sauce and oyster sauce separately before adding it into the wok.
- Add water and set to high heat until some smoke produces (be careful not to get burned by the hot spitting oil).
- Add the yellow noodles into the wok, coating them in the gravy. Add dark soy sauce.
- Cover the wok and allow the noodles to braise and the gravy to thicken.
- Once the gravy is thick, add anchovies powder, chu yao cha, prawns and choy sum.
- Toss it well together and cover the wok for another minute.
- Serve Hokkien Mee with some sambal belacan.
How to make crispy pork lard
- Remove the skin and excess fat from the pork belly before dicing them into small cubes. (You can save the fat to be used in other dishes)
- Pour 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a pan over medium heat and add the diced pork fats.
- Allow the pork fats to cook. Once they start to release oil, reduce to low heat and allow them to turn golden brown and crispy.
- Remove the crispy pork lard from the oil and drain them on paper towels.
- If you don’t like yellow noodles, you can also use udon noodles, which are softer in texture.
- Authentic KL Hokkien Mee is made with a black sauce that is labelled as ‘thick caramel soy sauce’. You can keep your eye out for this in local supermarkets!
- You can substitute anchovies powder with dried flounder that is deep-fried and blended into a fine powder, or Japanese bonito powder.
- Besides pork belly, pork sirloin works too!
- For a Halal version, you can use chicken fats instead.
All this talk of Hokkien Mee and crispy pork lard indeed renders one unceremoniously hungry. But don’t worry, you’ve just read the instructions, now it’s time to cook the cure!
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