Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Mee hoon kueh (面粉糕) hand-made noodles

My mother used to make this when I was a child. I think it was almost 20 years ago! I was really chuffed at having made a few weekends ago (I leave my 'intensive/fussy cooking' for weekends). It was less difficult than I thought and the result was pretty decent. The husband finished all the noodles even though I made too much!

You would almost always find a 'hand made noodles' stall in every food court in Singapore. When I was a child, this was not a popular or well known food in Singapore and was eaten mostly in Malaysia. Over the years, it became more well known and popular and food stalls started to sell it. The noodles are hand made by each vendor, which means each have their own taste and texture, although some chains do standardise their recipes. The dough would go through what is essentially a pasta machine to be formed into sheets and then cut into strands of either thick flat noodles (ban mee), fine noodles or cut into small squares (mee hoon kueh).

DIMG_0325.JPGMee hoon kueh 4

To me, authentic mee hoon kueh should be torn into pieces by hand rather than cut by knife into squares. The pinching of the dough seems to give it extra texture and make it taste better. Maybe it's just because that's the true blue home-made method and how my mother used to make it. This is a pretty healthy dish covering the major food groups of carbohydrates (flour), protein (pork), fibre (vegetables) and calcium (ikan bilis/dried anchovies). The ikan bilis stock gives the soup its distinctive flavour although it can be substituted with chicken or vegetable stock. Some might argue that the most important part of this dish is the crunchy fried ikan bilis topping!

Ingredients (serves 2):

200g plain flour
100ml water
1 litre ikan bilis (dried anchovies) stock (or chicken stock)
100g pork, thinly sliced (marinated with some light soy sauce, rice wine, corn flour and sesame oil)
2 big handfuls of leafy vegetables, cut or torn into pieces (e.g. bak choy, choy sum)
5 dried shitake mushrooms
2 tbsp ikan bilis
1 stalk spring onions, chopped
1 shallot, thinly sliced and fried till golden and crisp (optional)
2 eggs


1. In a large mixing bowl, add the water to the flour and mix into a dough. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until the dough springs back a little when pressed with a fingertip. Shape the dough into a ball, cover with a clean damp towel or cling film and leave to rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Mee hoon kueh 1

2. Soak the dried shitake in warm water for 15 minutes until soft. Cut and discard the tough stalks and slice the caps thinly. Retain the soaking liquid.
3. Heat some oil in a pan and fry the ikan bilis until golden and crispy. Drain on kitchen towels and set aside. (Be careful not to overfry them as they will continue to cook and darken in colour after being removed from the pan.)
4. Separate the dough into small pieces the size of golf balls and roll them out into large thin strips. Dust some flour on top of the strips so that they don't stick together on contact.

Mee hoon kueh 2

5. Heat the stock until it boils. Holding one strip of dough in your hand at a time, pinch of small sections and toss into the boiling stock. Stir occasionaly to prevent the noodles from sticking together. They should be cooked after 2-3 minutes. Ladle the noodles only into two bowls, to prevent overcooking.
6. With the stock still boiling, add in the pork slices and stir to separate. (I had some random prawns to be used to I added them too.) After a minute when the pork is half cooked, add the leafy vegetables and crack in the eggs. You can either stir to break up the eggs (which will flavour the soup more) or leave them to poach (so each person gets a whole egg).
7. When the vegetables have wilted and the eggs cooked to your liking, pour the mixture of meat, vegetables and stock into the two bowls of noodles. Top with spring onions, fried onions and fried ikan bilis. Add a dash of white pepper and serve immediately.

Mee hoon kueh 3

(Tip: To make ikan bilis stock, boil 150g of ikan bilis in 1 litre of water for 30 minutes. Discard the ikan bilis afterwards and season with salt and pepper to taste. Ikan bilis stock cubes are sold in Singapore and Malaysia.)


noobcook said...

omg! you're making mee hoon kueh from scratch!! looks really good, much better than those sold outside. I love your photos :D

Kevin said...

That soup looks tasty! Great job on the home made noodles. I have not really been able to hand roll anything that thin.

didally said...

This looks really good. My grandmother makes this every year. Kneading the dough herself, just flatten it into a small piece and just throw into the soup. I always have fun helping out.

I like your blog. =)

SteamyKitchen said...

hmmm....i may have to try my hand at making noodles...

Nilmandra said...

Noobcook: Thanks, they turned out better than I thought, phew!

Kevin: It wasn't difficult to roll the dough out thinly, maybe because this one had a high water content?

Didally: Thanks! A number of friends also remember their mothers or grandmas making this. I think the family association make food like these taste even better :)

Steamy kitchen: You should, I'm sure yours would look better than mine :)

Maya said...

Wow..this definately takes me down memory lane. My friend's mom used to make this all the time. It was a popular after school lunch.
Thank you for this recipe, I am going to make it!

commoi said...

I haven't heard of mee hoon kueh before, but I have a sense that I will like this dish a lot: I love handmade noodles. Especially the thick types. :D

Nilmandra said...

Maya: I'm glad it brought back good memories for you. Enjoy your own noodles!

Commoi: It's a very geographically specific dish so I'm not surprised. Hand made noodles of all kinds always taste so much better :)

mycookinghut said...

Love pan-mee!!!! I used to eat this at least one time when I was in KL!! I will try your recipe :) Thank you for sharing!!

danny kwok said...

Finally, got to try this works..although I forget to buy a I just pinch.

Nilmandra said...

Danny Kwok: Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad you got to try this. Pinching means more rustic!

danny kwok said...

Yeap, pinching is more rustic..but must not get it too thick. I even try tom yum version using tom yum paste after I run out of great too.

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