Having been away from home for 2 years now I sometimes really, really crave Malaysian food. I realized that most times, it is the hawker food that I miss most. Prawn mee, curry mee, char kuay teow has got to be at the top of this list. In Johor and Kuala Lumpur where I lived in Malaysia, this dish is known as Prawn Mee. Up north in Penang, it is more commonly known as Penang Hokkien Mee.
I literally took months, if not a year, to prepare for this dish. You see, the secret in making a bowl of prawn mee that packs a real punch lies in the stock. And of course, it wouldn’t be called prawn mee if it doesn’t use prawns for the stock And thus, I painstakingly collected prawn shells and prawn heads each time I bought prawns, which was not often as they’re quite expensive. I saved the shells and heads in a ziploc bag in the freezer compartment, and they kept well. A few weeks back, the ziploc bag finally reached maximum capacity, and thus it was time for me to start on my prawn mee. It was good timing really, as it is now summer, and the tiny Chinese shop happens to sell kangkung (water convulvulus) that is called for in a bowl of prawn mee.
I used RasaMalaysia’s recipe and I was quite happy with the outcome.
1 ziploc bag of shrimp heads and shells
15 cups of water (reduced to about 12-13 cups of water after hours of boiling and simmering)
2-3 pieces of rock sugar or to taste
700 grammes of pork ribs (blanched)
Salt to taste
I used the chilli paste that I made here but I added a handful of pounded dried prawns to the oil before sauteeing the chili paste.
250 grammes lean pork meat (boiled and sliced thinly)
300 grammes prawns (shelled and deveined)
2 or 3 hard-boiled eggs (shelled and quartered)
Some fried shallot crisps (store-bought or homemade)
500 grammes yellow noodles (scalded) – I used dried kuayteow sticks as I cannot find yellow noodles here
1 pack of rice vermicelli (scalded)
Some kangkung or water convolvulus (scalded)
Some bean sprouts (scalded)
1.Heat up the wok and add cooking oil.
2. Add in the pounded dried prawns. When fragrant, add in the chili paste and stir till oil separates from the paste.
3. Dish up and set aside. On the same unwashed wok, add in a little oil and cook the raw shrimp topping. Add in a little chili paste, sugar, and salt. Fry the shrimp until they are very slightly charred. Dish up, let cool and slice them into halves. (I prefer mine whole).
4. Add 15 cups of water into a pot and bring it to boil. I used my 5-quart Le Creuset for this.
5. Add in all the shrimp heads and shell and simmer on low heat for about 3 hours or longer until the stock becomes cloudy and packs a punch.
6. Strain the prawn heads and shells using a sieve. Remove all visible foam or sediment.
7. Bring the stock to a boil again and add in the chili paste to preference. If you like it spicy, add in more.
8. Add in the blanched pork ribs and let it continue to simmer for another 2 hours.
9. Add rock sugar/salt to taste.
10. To serve, place some noodles, kangkung, bean sprouts in a bowl. You may choose to add the pork ribs too. Ladle the yummy stock over. Top with meat slices, quartered eggs, prawns and fried shallot crisps.
11. Serve immediately with chili paste as a condiment.
Phew! Sounds like a lot of work? It is! But totally worth it if you have the time. The HB and I ate till we were like beached whales that night. The recipe above yields enough for about 4 portions. We had prawn mee again the following day