Also known as Ban Mian (板面), Mee Hoon Kuay (or Kueh) (面粉馃) can also be called handmade or hand-pulled noodles. Actually, there is a difference between ban mian and mee hoon kuay – ban mian is the Chinese version of fettucini (in my opinion) – ie, it is made with long and evenly cut strips of dough whereas mee hoon kuay has dough which is torn by hand, and is characterized by uneven shapes. Sadly though, in food courts and many stalls in Singapore, mee hoon kuay is actually machine-cut into squares. I prefer my mee hoon kuay hand torn, because I love the different textures (thick and thin) as well as the different sizes that comes with the manual ‘pulling’. I also think that such dough tends to be more “QQ” (this means more elastic in Chinese lingo).
As I have alluded to previously, I’m currently overseas in Australia for a long holiday, and it being winter here, makes me crave warm and soupy things. Mee hoon kuay was one of the first dishes that popped into my head – the other two being bak kut teh (肉骨茶) and tom yum goong. Having tried mee hoon kuay out from scratch, I’m definitely KIVing the other two :]
Anyway, not to blow my mother’s horn, but my mom is a really good cook, and one of the things that she makes which I absolutely love and will have over anything else outside, is her mee hoon kuay. I usually help here in the tearing of the dough and the general cooking of it, but I have never actually helped her in preparing the dough. So when I called her to ask for the recipe, she told me that there wasn’t any recipe and basically just add enough water and some oil to make the flour elastic. And add an egg also. Like huh?! I’ve heard this often enough, when I was overseas and called my mom almost every other day to ask how to cook X or Y and she gave the most vague instructions! But I’d like to think that because of this, I’ve actually learnt how to cook by taste and smell, which is perhaps one of the most valuable lessons that any cook can learn :] So anyhow, since I really had no idea of how much water and flour, I decided to go hunting online for some measurements because for a novice, measurements are important! I found myself on Lydia‘s and Tintin’s blogs, where they had prepared their own version of mee hoon kuay. My recipe below is an amalgamation of their recipes and what I’m used to – minced meat and mushroom precooked together, to be added into the soup later, fried anchovies on the side, lots of chili and fried shallots.
|Believe it or not, this was taken with the iPhone. Hate that the sides are a little cut off and the perspective’s a little off :/ I was in a hurry to eat it ;p|
For the noodles:
1 cup all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
½ tbl oil (I used sunflower oil)
2 tbl water
Ikan bilis (or anchovies, about 50g)
Some stalks of spring onion (also known as shallots)
Some fried shallots (small onions)
- Measure out a cup of flour into a large mixing bowl. Add in a pinch of salt. Make a hole in the centre of the flour, and crack the egg into it. Pour in also the oil and water. Combine the mixture until a rough dough comes together. Start kneading the dough for about 20 minutes (if doing by hand), until you achieve a smooth elastic dough. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least an hour before pulling into pieces.
- After washing the ikan bilis, boil 150g in 1.5 litres of water. Bring to a boil before letting it to simmer for at least half an hour. Season the stock to taste with salt and pepper.
- For the remaining ikan bilis, pat dry after washing and place into a microwave-safe bowl. Place it into the microwave for about 3 minutes on high. The ikan bilis should turn crispy, just like deep fried ones. (Note: there is no need to add oil!)
- For the dipping sauce, combine the chilies and garlic in the soy sauce and place in a sauce plate.
- For the minced meat and mushrooms, soak the dried mushrooms in warm water for at least an hour to soften. Slice mushrooms lengthwise into 1-cm wide strips. In a pan (or wok), saute some minced garlic until slightly brown before adding the minced meat. Fry until meat turns light brown and add in the mushroom slices. Cook until softened, before adding light and dark soy sauce. To thicken the sauce, add in some cornstarch dissolved in some water.
- For the noodle dough, using a rolling pin, roll the dough into approximately 3mm thick. To make it more manageable, divide the dough into smaller sizes (about A4 size). Make sure that the stock is boiling before beginning to tear the dough into smaller bite-size pieces. Immediately throw these pieces into the boiling stock.
- Once you have torn all the dough, add in the fishballs and vegetables of choice. Depending on how you like your egg (runny yolk or fully cooked), crack in the egg after the vegetables have been cooked.
- To serve, ladle the cooked dough, fishballs, egg and vegetables and stock into a soup bowl. To garnish, add a few spoonfuls of the minced meat and mushroom, microwaved ikan bilis, some fried shallots and spring onions. Dip into dipping sauce and enjoy :]
- Notes: If you’re doing the tearing of the dough yourself, make sure you work quickly, so that the first few pieces of dough don’t cook too long and turn out mushy. What works for me is to make sure that the initial batch of dough is slightly thicker than the later batches to ensure that they take longer to cook. Alternatively, you can tear the dough first and place them on a plate (make sure they are placed apart, otherwise they will stick).
- Taste: Fantastic. There really isn’t much I’d change in this recipe, except perhaps use more ikan bilis in the stock.
- Texture: The mee hoon kuay is sufficiently Q and elastic, and is heavenly, when eaten with the crisp ikan bilis, soft springy fishball accompanied with the sharpness of the chili.
- Serving size: I found it pretty manageable to cook the 2-person portion in a large pan. The amounts above are more than sufficient to cook a meal for 2 for dinner.
- Modifications: None. I love it! Btw, for ban mian, all you have to do is use a knife to cut the dough into long strips instead of tearing the dough. It’s that simple. There’s no need to flour the dough if you are going to cook it immediately in the stock.
- Storage: The cooked mee hoon kuay does not keep well in the fridge at all. You must consume it within an hour of cooking otherwise it’ll become soft and mushy.
- Would I make this again?: Definitely!!!
|A little close up of the mee hoon kuay|
Total cost for this dish is about A$7.06, breakdown as follows:
- 3 eggs: $0.36
- Spring onion: $0.30
- Fishballs: $0.70
This makes for a truly cheap and budget meal because eating out in Sydney (where I’m at now), is not cheap at all. The cheapest available meals tend to be Asian food, and even that will cost you at least $8 for lunch and $10 for dinner, per person. If you want to dine in proper restaurants, expect to set yourself back by at least $20 for just the main course. With less than A$8, I have managed to cook an extremely satisfying meal for 2, with homemade and healthy ingredients (ie, homemade stock and no MSG!). Therefore, for those currently living overseas now (and if you happen to be craving mee hoon kuay), please don’t hesitate to head down to your Asian supermarket to buy the ingredients. The only ingredient that might be slightly harder to find is
ikan bilis. Make sure to call it anchovies or jiang yu zai (江鱼仔) to make sure that the shopkeeper understands what you want. And one final note, making the dough is also not as hard as it seems ;] Do try this out!