Words and recipe by Anh Nguyen
When we are in the kitchen together, my MIL often tells me about her past in Singapore. Her father used to own a fruit store where tropical fruits were always available. Everyday, he would use the overripe bananas to make fried kueh (banana fried pancake). For her, to this day, it’s still the most delicious snack.
She told me too, about the hawker store just downstairs from her old flat. They were very famous for Hokkien mee, a kind of stir-fry noodles with seafood, prawn stock and pork pieces. She loved it, but was unable to enjoy often since the family was poor with a lot of mouths to feed…
After marriage, my MIL often improvised classic Chinese dishes to suit her new family, substituting away pork meat. Of course, one of the dishes she cooked often was Hokkien Mee. Then I came along and learned it from her, tweaking it from time to time. Just like that, our family version of Singaporean Hokkien mee was born.
Our version is full of flavors from the homemade prawn stock and fresh seafood. We like to have this with this particular brand of prawn chilli sambal, which gives a nice addictive kick.
Singaporean Hokkien Mee
Based on my MIL’s memories and various recipes. This recipe is all about quality fresh seafood, so choose the best ones!
Ingredients (for 6-8 serves)
1kg fresh prawns
300g calamari, cleaned and cut into thin pieces
2 chicken carcases
1 onion, peeled
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
500g Hokkien noodles
200g dried rice vermicelli
200g bean sprouts
4 tablespoons light flavoured oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons good quality fish sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 spring onions or garlic chives, finely chopped
To serve: lime quarters and Prawn Chilli Sambal
1. First off, clean the prawns – peel them and de-vein.
2. Put the prawn shell and head + chicken bones into a big saucepan. Drop in the onion, peppercorns and a good pinch of salt. Pour in some water (around 7-8 cups). Bring to the boil then simmer for 30-40 minutes. Pass through a sieve and the liquid is your prawn stock.
3.Briefly soak the dried vermicelli in cold water for 8-10 minutes, then drain well.
4.Warm up the prawn stock. Using a strainer with large handle, quickly blanch the prawn and calamari. Avoid overcooking! Keep the prawn stock warm.
5. Boil another pot of water and quickly blanch the bean sprouts. Set aside.
6. Beat the egg with a bit of salt and pepper.
7.Now, the real action! Heat up oil in a large wok, and then quickly fry the garlic until fragrant. Pour in the beaten egg, wait until it barely sets then stir briefly (scramble egg!). Next, put in the noodles and using high heat, fry them. You will have to stir them from time to time. Ladle in 1 cup of warm prawn stock, fry until the stock is almost dry. Then ladle in another cup of stock. Check the “doneness” of your noodles. Once they are nearly done, add in the cooked prawn, squid, sprouts, chopped spring onion and seasoning. Adjust seasoning to your taste.
8.The final dish should not be dry, but still have thick soupy texture. Serve with a squeeze of lime juice, and lots of chilli prawn sambal.