One of the staples of Malaysian cuisine, this hearty dish of egg noodles and pork belly is a favourite all over the country and beyond. In fact, there are three main variations ofhokkien mee recipes: Singaporean hokkien mee, Penang hokkien mee or Kuala Lumpur hokkien mee (also known as hokkien char mee).
This article focuses on Malaysian hokkien mee recipesand in particular, we’re going to look at the latter variety. If you prefer the Penang option, simply substitute prawn for pork belly as the main ingredient (although pork should still be included), do not use dark soy sauce and add plenty of broth to give the dish more of a liquid base.
A little-known secret of how to cook hokkien mee noodles successfully and achieve that authentic Malaysian flavour is the use of pork fat, which you should be able to obtain with little difficulty from your butcher. Otherwise, a slice of pork belly which has a sizable layer of fat on top also works to create the unique chu yau char (crispy pork lardons) that makes this hokkien mee recipe such as success.
Ingredients: (Serves 4)
200g pork belly, with skin and fat removed and belly sliced into 1cm pieces
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
250g thick hokkien noodles, cooked and drained
10-15 shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
8-12 white fish balls, halved
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 baby Chinese cabbage, sliced into 1cm thick strips
180ml chicken stock
4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 tablespoons water
For chu yau char:
2 tablespoons peanut oil
Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl, then soak the pork belly pieces in them. Marinade preferably overnight, but a minimum of 30 minutes will also work.
Begin by making the chu yau char. Dice the pork fat into small cubes and shallow fry in the peanut oil until the pieces have turned crispy and brown. Depending on the size and thickness of your lardons, this should take between 30 minutes and an hour. Check regularly to avoid burning. Once cooked, let cool and set aside, retaining the peanut oil.
Preheat a large wok over a high heat and add two tablespoons of the oil used to make the chu yau char. Fry the marinated pork belly pieces until browned, then add the garlic, shrimp and fishballs and fry for 30 seconds. Add the Chinese cabbage and fry for another 30 seconds. Add the noodles and toss to make sure everything is mixed.
Now add all of the remaining ingredients and mix well. Fry for a minute or two to ensure everything is brought to the same temperature and check the taste. Adjust saltiness or sweetness according to your preference. Serve immediately. Ta-da! That’s how to cook hokkien mee according to the Kuala Lumpur (char mee) tradition.