Hokkien Prawn Noodles / Har Mee
A mainstay of the street food scene in Singapore and Malaysia. The dish is Hokkien noodles served in a stock that is made with pork bones and prawn heads/shells which gives it its unique flavour. The stock is sweet and savoury at the same time, which leads to lovers of this dish slurping to the bottom of the bowl.
Each family will have their own version of this dish. This is my version of the dish, a variant of my mom's recipe. She didn't really give me a recipe though. This is based of what I remember while watching her cook, plus some tweaks of my own. Being a meat lover, I serve this with braised pork ribs.
Also, when I serve this dish, I don't like shells on my prawns. Many famous stalls that leave the shells on, even after butterflying the prawns. Its a personal preference, I am using chopsticks and I don't really want to be putting them down to shell the prawns or to be spitting shells throughout my meal. I find it very distracting.
What you will need to serve 4 - 6
Pork Bones - About half a kilo at least.
Prawns - About 600 grams - Shelled, save the heads and the shells. Store flesh separately.
Pork Ribs - About 600-800 grams - Cut to individual rib bones.
White peppercorns - 1 Tablespoon
Garlic - 1 bulb or a dozen cloves - Lightly crushed.
Oyster Sauce - 3 Tablespoons
Dark Soya Sauce - 1 Tablespoon
Light Soya Sauce - 2 Tablespoons
1 Chicken Stock cube
Sugar - 1 Tablespoon
Noodles and Garnish:
Fried Shallots (Store bought is fine)
Crispy Fried Pork Lard bits (Optional)
KangKong (Water Spinach) - Washed, cut to 4 cm lengths. About a handful per serving,
Beansprouts - About 100 grams. About a handful per serving,
Chilli Powder / Fresh Chillies - Optional
100grams - Egg Noddle or Hokkien Noodle per serving.
Making Lard Cubes. (About .5 Kg of Pork Lard is a good amount)
The Pork Lard is optional. It is my opinion that it just takes the dish to another level. Cut the pork fat into 1 cm cubes or slightly larger. In a pan, slowly heat up the cubed fat. The lard cubes will start to sweat and you will see liquid fat will start to pool in your pan. Keep the heat medium low. Before long, the cubes will be swimming in oil. At this point you can turn up the heat to get a good browning on the cubes. Do not walk away if you can help it - as they can burn very quickly from this point.
Once you get a nice brown colour on the cubes, separate the solids from the liquid fat.
I like to store the crispy cubes in a paper-lined air tight container and the liquid fat in glass container.
The liquid fat stores well in the fridge. Up to weeks. Try using them in your stir fries, its next level stuff. 1 thing to note when using pork fat with stir-frying, us a smaller amount than you would with regular cooking oil, or your dish might get a tad greasy.
Making the stock:
Heat up 2-3 Tablespoons of oil (or Pork Fat - recommended) in a large stock pot or a wok. Add the garlic, white peppercorns, ginger and the prawn heads/shells and roast till the shells turn pink/red and garlic just starts to brown. Add the oyster sauce and continue roasting. You want the oyster sauce to start caramelizing but not burn.
If you are doing the roasting directly in the stockpot, add in 2.5 litres of water.
If using a wok or frying pan - deglaze with some water, about half a litre or so. Bring to a boil and then transfer to a large stockpot then add the rest of the water into the pot.
Add the pork bones, chicken cube, sugar, Light and Dark soya sauce into the pot.
Cover and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and let simmer for 2 hours.
Tates and adjust as needed with Soya Sauce, pepper and sugar.
Optional Step - Strain the stock. Save the pork ribs and you can discard the rest of the solids.
Or you can just pick out the ribs with and strain the stock as you ladle it into serving bowls.
Have large pot of boiling water ready.
Blanch/cook each serving of noodles according to package instructions and place in the serving bowl.
Blanch/cook each serving of the beansprouts and kangkong and place in the serving bowl.
Blanch each serving of prawns in the stock for 2-3 minutes and place in the serving bowl.(Be careful not to overcook).
Place desired amount of pork ribs in each serving bowl.
Ladle hot stock into the bowl.
Garnish with Shallots, Crispy Lard Cubes and Chillies as desired.