Tuesday, May 26, 2009

KL Hokkien Mee

Watched a TV show recently about a very popular restaurant (link given thanks to a reader) whose Hokkien noodles are said to be the best in KL. The grandfather of the present owner was the 'creator' of Hokkien mee, a dish ethnic to Malaysia and not anywhere else, not even Fujian (Hokkien), China. The restaurant is so popular that customers sleep-walk there at 3 am for their Hokkien mee and meat soup that goes with the noodles. Each plate of noodles is fried individually over charcoal flames. The Hokkien noodles are not as saucy or black as the ones we are used to in KK. Hokkien mee in KK is usually a plate of noodles swimming in black sauce to cover up the fact that there's hardly any meat and the excess sauce is to make the portion appear larger. Pork crackling is not an essential ingredient, making the noodles basically just a plate of soy sauce noodles without much flavor. As a result, many KKians have no idea what a good plate of Hokkien mee tastes like, until they eat the real thing in KL.

I am so glad I watched the whole episode (am not much of a TV person) because they actually showed how their delicious mee is fried, right down to the main ingredients used. The secret ingredient took me by surprise, and I happen to have it in my fridge but never used it. For dinner tonight I cooked Hokkien mee using the surprise secret ingredient and I am still floating with excitement and euphoria because Wey rated my Hokkien mee 9/10 (although I rate it 10/10 myself, humble me!), leaving me room for improvement yet again. I think the 1/10 he's not awarding me is maybe because the noodles weren't fried over a charcoal fire and also there wasn't enough crackling (he cycled to Lido market to buy more pork fat himself when he saw I had only half a cup, and the butcher cheated him, but that's another story) because I was concerned about eating too much of that. Wey loves crackling so much that he wished there's such a thing as crackling chips. He refused to talk while eating the Hokkien mee, so serious was he while eating it. He has been rather disappointed with all the Hokkien mee he has eaten in restaurants recently.

So you'd like to know the secret ingredient? It's ---surprise---dried sole fish (like a flounder), toasted over a charcoal fire and pounded into a powder! When I sprinkled the spoonful of dried sole fish powder into the hot pork oil, the aroma was just like that of the restaurants' -- a robust, mature, smoky and meaty fragrance that the pork oil alone cannot give. I got my stock of dried sole fish in Hong Kong for making the soup for wontons. I don't think you can find dried sole fish in KK, unfortunately. I also don't think most restaurants use this ingredient for cooking Hokkien mee, especially in KK where Hokkien mee is probably the last thing you should eat.

My Documents1
p.s Wey got home from school today (27/5) and wanted to learn how to cook KL Hokkien mee. I made sure there was enough pork crackling this time and gave the cooked noodles a final drizzle of pork oil. Wey declared, "Mom! This is 10/10!", stamping his feet crazily on the floor. Practice makes perfect, son.


Below is the previous post, but the recipe that follows has been revised.

Hokkien mee

Ah, who doesn't like a good plate of Hokkien mee? My family loves Hokkien mee (noodles), especially Wey and I but because this dish is coated with pork oil, it is something we can only eat once in a long while. We manage to live without it because there aren't any good Hokkien mee after Kim Loong Restaurant in Lido closed down (the owners went back to KL). Now we go to Diamond Restaurant, but it's not as good there. Last time we went there, the mee wasn't topped with cracklings. It was like eating a McD burger with no patty.

After a week of healthy dinners (a lot of fish and veggies), I knew we were all ready to clog our veins again, so why not go to the max and have Hokkien mee, which has pork oil as its most important ingredient. I didn't want to tell you all this, but being the (mostly) honest person that I am, Wey and Ming both said last night that if it was fried mee I cooked, they'll rank it high but since it was supposed to be Hokkien mee, they rated it 7/10 only. Now I wouldn't give you any recipe that ranks below 9.9, but since I'm out of something to post and I think the recipe is really good and can be a 10/10 if you can get hold of the right soy sauce, I will post this. Who knows, maybe someone can tell me what soy sauce to use. I've watched a hawker fry Hokkien mee from beginning to end but the sauce he used was already in a bowl.

I've found that there are 4 important must-dos if you want to fry up a good plate of Hokkien mee:

1. You gotta be brutal enough (hawkers are) to use lots of pork oil and crackling. If that is missing, the whole dish is a goner. I only used 1/4 cup pork oil to fry 1 kg of noodles last night. I just couldn't do it, remembering the cholesterol in animal fats and the fact that 1 gm of oil gives 9 calories compared to starch or sugar which at 1 gm give 4 calories.

2. The soy sauce is important. I used Lee Kum Kee's dark soy sauce and Camel thick soy sauce (but didn't use much of this because it looked toxic), but the resulting sauce was not the same as the restaurants/hawkers'.

3. The noodles must be thick yellow fresh noodles. I couldn't bring myself to feed the family with noodles full of color and preservatives (I know that for a fact because years ago I visited this big noodles factory in Kolombong and it was 2pm Saturday and they were closing. I saw bags of yellow noodles and kwey tiau (flat rice noodles) on the counters and asked what they would do with it. They said they'll distribute them to their buyers on Monday. Remember, this is tropical paradise and they weren't storing them in the fridge) so I used udon which Fussy Younger Son said had a slightly sourish taste, so please do not use that if you do not want to compromise on the taste.

4. Do not attempt to cook more than 1-2 portions at a time, to maintain the heat of the wok.


Hokkien Mee (for 1-2 persons)
250gm fresh thick yellow mee (washed quickly & drained well 1/2 hours b4 cooking@)
1/4 cup pork or chicken, in thin slices (marinade with salt, pepper & some cornflour)
3 or 4 prawns, shelled
a few pieces of squid or cuttlefish or fishcake (optional)
a handful of thinly sliced cabbage or Chinese cabbage
1 heaped T dried sole fish powder (toast dried sole fish until fragrant and pound in a granite mortar until fine)
dark soy sauce (Woh Hup)
light soy sauce (Lee Kum Kee Selected)+
1 T chopped garlic
1/4 t fine sugar (optional)
a pinch of msg (optional)*
1 cup concentrated chicken stock (homemade, or Swanson's)
a few shakes of white pepper, pinch of salt
3 T pork oil
pork crackling bits

@if you don't mind the oil, don't wash the noodles. Washing the noodles may result in a pasty texture if the noodles are cooked too long.

+if you like your noodles black (Sabah style), omit light soy sauce and use thick soy sauce. You can omit the sugar then because thick soy sauce is sweetish.

* this is what restaurants use, and they use much more but I found msg unnecessary because the chicken stock was good enough.

1. Get a good thick solid piece of pork fat and cut into small 1 cm cubes. Put the fat cubes into a wok and fry over medium-low heat. Keep stirring until all the oil comes out (you'll be surprised how much oil comes out!) and the crackling is golden brown. Remove the cracklings into a bowl and pour the pork oil into another bowl, leaving about 3 T (more if you dare) in the wok.

2. Increase the heat , add the chopped garlic and dried sole fish powder, fry a few seconds, then add the pork/chicken. Throw in the noodles and stock and stir to loosen the noodles, using a frying ladle and a pair of chopsticks. Add about 2 T thick soy sauce, 1-2 T light soy sauce, the sugar, salt, pepper, msg and top that with the veg. Cover and increase heat to high. Check once in a while, stirring to mix and add the squid and prawns when half done.

3. Check if the texture of the noodles is to your liking. Do not overcook the noodles or they will become pasty. Taste and season with more soy sauces if necessary because different brands have different levels of saltiness. You may have to add some more stock/water as this dish should be wet, but not too watery. Dish out onto a plate, scatter the crackling bits on top of the noodles. Serve hot with a hot chili sauce.


Precious Pea said...

Hokkien Mee is my favourite too and my first choice of noodle whenever i eat at 'tai chow'. 7 out of 10 already very very high. I dare not try this at home cos i know sure effort will be wasted. Next time you come to KL, i bring you to the Tapioca Noodle Hokkien Style..i had it last nite and for breakfast this morning! SLURPS!

Oh yah..actually your plate of Hokkien Mee looks good leh :p~~

Anonymous said...

Whatever the rating, your plate of hokkien mee looks yummy yummy yummy!

Denise ^ ChickyEGG said...

(Same tongue! )
Why u remind me of Kim Loong...
I was really sad that time when Kim Loong closed down! bcuz thats the place that cooked GOOD hokkien mee in town !
May be now the one good I found is Ang's Hotel, but again, need to wait like 30 minutes Plus for a plate? i bo tahan la

triShie said...

these look like FooChow Mien. i don't know if it's similar in taste, but, it looks similar. urs here looks delish!!

and yes, i take my own pics... :) thanks for the tips and all,will go try to make the pics bigger.

Susu Kacang said...

Ow, come on...I just finished my dinner and getting ready to blog. why you make me hungry again?

seriously, it looks really good. I'll read through your recipe and try later. will Maggi Soya Sauce work?

Hazza said...

Thanks for sharing this recipe! I miss this dish a lot and cant wait to try it at home. However, it is impossible to get thick yellow noodles here in UK, so I think I will do what you did and use Udon noodles. They also sell something called "shanghai noodles" in the UK. Have you come across this before.

Anamika:The Sugarcrafter said...

Hi Terri
Thanks for stopping by. I simply loved your blog editorial and the pictures looks so appealing the food must be delicious. Thanks for the recipe.

ekeng said...

One plate Hokkien Mee with more pork lard please..hehe..i love Hokkien Mee..just have it for dinner..i love hokkien mee at Taman Cantik (KK)..but don't know still have it or not :)

wmw said...

One of my fave cos of the crispy lard! :o)

Anonymous said...

read this:

it's sad. what's going to become to the future of malaysia?

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

preciousp: i will go eat tapioca hokkien mee with u soon--my treat if u show me where.

b: thanks;pics can lie

denise: wey also lament about kim loong now n then. yes, ang's quite good (greasy tho) but u r right about not waiting.

trishie: no tt's hokkien mee. i love all types of foochow noodles tho.:)

susukacang: hi there!thanks. i love maggi soy auce but i think it would be too strong for hookien mee. also hawkers don't use maggi sauce bc its more expensive.

hazza: yes, i noticed shanghai noodles in Oz too. i think tt's more suitable than udon. tell me how ur noodles turned out.

anamika: thanks but ur sugarcraft cakes r the best i've seen so far.

ekeng: is tt hokkien mee at the corner nearer to lido? tt's where i saw the guy fry it a year.

wmw: :0 pork fat is yummy!

anony: i just checked. the address shb be nicolekiss.blogspot.com/2008_02_01archive.html.

yes n it is maddening to know some ppl think BN is doing a good job despite all the cheating in this election not to mention everything else that has happened. morons.

Anonymous said...

yellow noodles outside has alkaline water so it taste funny after it is out on shelf for a while. best is make own. really fragrant.

with hawker style of food, please dont think good quality and complicated tat is what i found. i learnt the chow chai bee hoon the other time. they just use cap kelapa soy (RM 2 or so for a whole bottle) for their fried noodles. so whenever i attempt outside food i think like a hawker, it will be def something you can find on shelves and it is usually cheap. sell only 3-5 bucks per plate/bowl where got give you super good stuff like imported or high quality.

Anonymous said...

wow, looks soo yummy, this is different from singapore hokkien mee

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

nee: how to make yellow mee without using alkaline water? it'll just be fresh wheat noodles like la mien. yes, the hawers def use cheap soy sauce, oil and lots of msg. ah well, once in a while we have to ingest some poisin.

linda: really? how is Sing hokkien mee different? isn't it dark fat noodles with crackling?

Anonymous said...

your hokkien mee sure do look yummy..

i like the hokkien mee at Lee KL Hokkien Mee, Hilltop. The best I've had in KK so far..

Anonymous said...

Basically yellow noodles are egg noodles or yu mien (oil noodles). lots of eggs and minimal water. And you can use bicarbonate soda instead of alkaline water. then you dip in hot water, semi cook it and take out and mixed with corn oil/vegie oil. then cook whichever way you like such as hokkien mee, har mien. that is the home way of making yellow noodles. wheat noodles has some higher ratio of water. but home made ones using pasta maker does not give the big and thick effects like outside one.

outside ones, same process but use egg whites only plus yellow colouring and alkaline water. that is why taste funny after a while.

Big Boys Oven said...

Try to soak the thick noodle with water for an hour, the rinse it, so that the noodle is much softer before braising!

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

anony: thank you for telling me about Lee's at Hilltop. Will check it out very soon :)

nee: u amaze at hwat u know about cooking, really. i didn't know tt's how they make yellow mee. thanks for telling me:)

bigboys: thank you too for telling me :) tt's the good thing about having bloggers who share tips, bless them!

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

anony: i went to lee wong kee at hilltop. there wasn't any pork crackling on the mee, and no hint of pork oil in the mee too.

Dumb and dumber :) said...

Hmm.. I tot Esiong at Lintas Plaza is pretty good though it has been years since i last had it but it was the 1st Hokkien Mee I hav tried which did not turn me off.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

lil: hey thanks for telling me. I'm going to check it out. my wey would be extremelt grateful if its really good.

ganache-ganache said...

I think every hokkien grew up with this, including me, used to munch on the crackling ! Due to health consciousness, I've banned this frm my noodle list for years, always watching my sisters slurping all the sauce from the plate, they were here last Sept & they thought Luyang restaurant's version was good.
Oh Terri, was at Merderka s/mrkt last night saw Swanson chick stock on offer.

Anonymous said...

I see you have added 'fish' to the word sole. I wondered for a moment if you meant sole as in feet, which is disgusting if that's what you mean!@


Hi Terri. Love your site - whenever I feel out of sorts at work, I'll tune into your site and cheer myself up. I think the Hokkien Mee you are referring to is in KL town itself. I think they call it Tai Sue Tou, behind Jln Imbi (as in under a big tree); if I am not mistaken, there is a stall run by the father and one by the son after they fell out with each other.

Anonymous said...

Dear Terri,
I think this is the programme that you saw. http://blog.axian788.com/?p=1184
I love reading your blog and your sense of humour makes my day!
Warm wishes.

Jeri said...

I am soooo happy you found this recipe !!! Any chance you can find a good ngiu chap recipe ?

Anonymous said...

Terri have you tried the KL Hokkien Mee at Hilltop Restaurant (shop facing main road)? I didn't know that there are different types of Hokkien mee. Silly me, my brother-in-law from Penang wanted Hokkien mee and so we ordered hokkien mee without realising it was KL hokkien mee. What a surprise when they served him a plate of dark looking mee laced with lard and bits of deep fried pork fat. Anyway, he cleaned his plate, maybe it was good or he was hungry.

However, we found his Penang Hokkien (Har mee) in Foh Sang. I an not a noddle fan but if you are looking for KL Hokkien mee with pork lard and the bits of pork fat, check out Hilltop Restaurant and maybe you can get Wey to rate it. :) Oh yes,there is another place I have tried this mee recommended by a friend. It's the corner shop near Thai Seng which sells roast duck.

Happy blogging!

Anonymous said...

Hi, the hokkien mee that you mention is in KL Chinatown (opps Hong Leong Bank).

terri@adailyobsession said...

ganache: we found luyang rest's hokkien mee too broken up :( hey, thanks for telling me about sale on swanson's chicken stock.

anon: sorry, i meant the fish...

running brook: the place u mentioned is very famous too, but it's not the one in the program, bc that rest. is on jalan hang lekir, as given in the link.

anon: thank u very very much for the link, yes, tt's the program i saw :D!

jeri: happy for me or for u?? pls do cook it soon, i want to hear ur verdict. ngiew chap..there r so many versions..what i want to try is make my own beef balls.

anon: were u the one who told me about d hilltop hokkien mee last year bc wey n i went immediately n it was the worst plate of hokkien mee EVER! not only was the taste BLAH, they didn't use pork oil or top with gee yau ja!

but u know, the rest's name is not hilltop, it's kwong something, so i think i went to the wrong one! i will def check out hilltop rest's hokkien mee very soon. wey says the hokkien mee in the rest next to thai seng (next to his school) sucks now, but was good before...

anon: no, it's on jalan hang lekir, opp the infamous malays hotel. check the link given by a reader, it's on the post :))

Jeri said...

I'm happy for you but overjoyed for me ;) I will try the recipe as soon as I find the dried fish in Melbourne !

terri@adailyobsession said...

jeri: ah, u r in melb. try asian grocers, they hav much more varieties than here.

anon 8:32: we just tried the hokkien mee at hilltop. it was bad, flavor was just soy sauce. no gee yao ja (crackling) n wey rated it 4/10 only bc he said the noodles had a nice bite. i ate a spoonful n rate it lower, 2-3/10. round the corner, lee wong kee's is 1/10 :((

so i guess in kki the places for passable hokkien mee r luyang rest, diamond, ang's--but all these hav fallen in standards n r at best only edible.

u know i used to think tt certain rest. dishes can't be replicated with success at home but with hokkien mee, i am very confident i can do better than kk's rest. mainly bc rest. r scrimping n using inferior & minimal ingredients. even my son, who likes rest. food, is beginning to notice the difference bet quality home cooked dishes n highly msged rest. dishes. his dad asked him which is the best hokkien mee in town n he said "Home", which is a pleasant surprise coming from him, bc he's usually quite demanding of me.

Mosquito Repellent said...

KL Hokkien mee, taste a few store
But end of the day, I still prefer Singapore Hokkien fried prawn mee.
which is not saucy, and there are lots of prawns...

Maybe I dont like pork oil and heavy sauce taste. Maybe I always get allegic for heavy taste.
Each individual has their preference.

for Assam noodles and mee in the TV serial, I like that. Spicy and great, I like assam fish in the noodles.

But Great post that you have ... rating 10 out 10.

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