As promised, here is a recipe, a more local recipe this time. Penang is part of Malaysia and this region is also blessed with diverse cuisine habits and culture, mainly Chinese influence as many early settlers in this region came from China. Although many settled here and adopted native languages, local food habits, inter-mingled with local populations, but somehow they also carried their food legacies with them where ever they went. I haven’t been to Penang myself, so I am not sure how Prawn mee is made in a traditional Penang home, but then it’s also a very popular street food/hawker food with many variations. I happened to taste it first when we went to a restaurant here in Kuala Lumpur. That warm and delicious prawn noodle soup lingered on my mind and my taste-buds for many days. I started looking for the recipe in internet, but couldn’t recall the name of the recipe. Then when we went again, second time in that same restaurant, I made sure to memorize the name this time- so the name was Prawn Mee/Har mee …...and that stayed with me…the name and the flavour.
Here I tried to re-create that taste in my own apartment kitchen. I really don’t know how authentic it can be, but the flavour of the noodle soup reminded me of that deliciously cooked prawn mee soup I had earlier in that restaurant. I have tried to make this soup with whatever I had at the time of making it and also to please our Indian taste buds so little variation is there. There are other authentic recipes out in internet as well.- Like this.
I also found out other minute details slowly with our endeavours during our weekend excursions. Penang Hokkien mee is what the soupy prawn noodle is known as Prawn Mee over here in KL. And when I ordered Hokkien mee here in KL, the dish turned out something different- more of drier stir/fry/ version which my daughter just loved it. There you see a very minute difference and the entire recipe turns out something else for you. Anyhow this is how I made it- Prawn Mee soup aka Penang Hokkien Mee Soup aka Har Mee soup. And Btw ‘Mee’ is dish containing noodles in it, word origin is Chinese.
This is how we made it -
Prawn Mee- egg noodle soup recipe/ Penang Hokkien mee/Har Mee recipe
Cooking time – 1hr
For prawn stock
About 20-25 prawns – head and tails is also required
2-3 tsp of oil
1tsp of fish sauce
Salt as per taste
For chilli paste/spice paste
5-6 blanched prawn (head and tail removed)
4-5 garlic pods
8-10 birds red chillies
Salt as per taste
For the main soup
About 200 – 250 gms of thick rice noodles/ or yellow noodles/ egg noodles
2- 3 tsp of cooking oil
2 tsp of prepared spice paste
½ tsp of red pepper powder (add if you need spicier version)
2-3 tsp of palm sugar
6-7 shallots – or 2 onions
3-4 garlic pods
½ inch ginger
2- 3 dry red chilly
2-3 tsp of cooking oil
Vegetables of your choice
Any green leaves - choi sum/Ong Choi/ amaranth/spinach etc. (blanched)
1 medium size carrot
1 cup of chopped yard long beans – 2-3 inch in length
1 cup of bean sprouts
Any other vegetables
Hard boiled eggs to garnish (optional)
Home-made prawn stock- base of Prawn Mee soup recipe- made the soup with shrimps
Take about 7-8 cups of water in a big heavy bottomed sauce pan. Add in salt, and cooking oil.
As the name suggest Prawn Mee , prawns are the main ingredients. Remove head and shells from prawns, clean it well in water. Blanch these cleaned and de-veined prawns for about 3-4 mints in above simmering water. Take out and set aside.
Now add in removed prawn heads and shells in to the above simmering pot. Add in fish sauce. Put the flame to medium-low and let it simmer for about 40- 50 mints. Take out and discard prawn heads and shells. This is your home-made prawn stock and it tastes absolutely delicious. (Many times pork fat or chicken pieces are also added)
Now add in all the vegetables of your choice, let it cook for 6-7 mints or till they just start turning pale. I like when they retain bit of crunchiness. Take them out and keep aside in separate bowls. We will use these blanched vegetables at the time of assembling the Prawn Mee soup.
In a separate pan, boil egg noodles/rice noodles or yellow noodles, whatever you are using for the soup. I have used thick rice noodles which takes longer to cook. I have added bit of turmeric powder to the simmering rice noodles, so that it soaks bit of colour. Tip- You can use any thick instant noodle as well available in India- like ramen/Maggi/chef/patanjali etc.….
Now prepare the shrimp/spice paste
Blanch 4-5 prawns in the above simmering pot and take out in a bowl.
In a food processor, blend 4-5 blanched prawns, garlic and red chilly together.
Put the fry pan on flame, add in cooking oil and fry this spice paste for about 8-10 mints at medium-high flame or till the oil separates out. Take out and put in bowl. Use 2 tsp of this paste for the prawn mee recipe and if you have left-over, store in fridge. This can be served with the soup as an accompaniment also. TIP- You can use ready-made sambal- chilli paste as well.
Chop all very finely –onion+ ginger+garlic. If you think a paste will work fine then you can do it as well.
In that fry pan, add more cooking oil, fry onion, garlic and ginger evenly. You can make a spice paste out of this also and mix it with above mentioned prawn spice paste.
Preparing Vegetables and Prawns for the soup
Add in all the blanched vegetables, blanched prawns, palm sugar, adjust salt and last but not the least shrimp spice paste. You can use sambal chilli as well if you don’t want to make home-made shrimp paste. Basically any paste which has dried shrimp paste can also be used. This shrimp paste adds the extra shrimp flavour. Coat all the prawns and vegetables well with the spices. Green leafy vegetables like – spinach, Ong choi, can also be added but they need to be cooked/blanched separately.
Assembling Prawn Mee soup
Now put cooked noodles, then top it with your choice of cooked vegetables and prawns, add in cooked prawn stock and garnish with cilantro and hardboiled egg.
This soup is known as Penang Hokkien Mee in Penang. In KL it is knowns as Prawn Mee or Har mee. However, if in KL and Singapore you order Hokkien Mee – they will serve you with fried noodles with prawn and it will be different as compared to Penang Hokkien Mee.