Hokkien Fried Noodles

For those of you who have been wondering why I have been rendering all this lard, wonder no more! Hokkien Char is one of my absolute favourites. I try to limit my consumption of it, because to be painfully honest, it’s not health food. Good thing is you can easily make it at home and then you have full control over the amount of lard you put in. One word of warning: Too little and it will taste nothing like Hokkien Char! For those of you who missed my lard rendering adventure, click here: Homemade Pork Lard and let’s get started.

I have divided the recipe into 4 not because it’s long and difficult, but because it makes it easier to get your head around the different blocks. If you want a shopping list, scroll to the bottom of the blog and you’ll find it there.

For the Meat:
  • 150g pork shoulder
  • 75g pork liver
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 2 Tbsp Chinese rice wine

Cut the pork shoulder into thin slices. Slice the liver a little thicker. I find it easier to slice these when the meat and liver are still slightly frozen. If you bought them fresh, I suggest cutting them into blocks the of the size you want your slices to be and the sticking them into the freezer for an hour or two. Salt the meat and liver and pour the soy sauce and rice wine over and mix well. Add the corn starch and mix again. Do not omit the starch, as it will help your sauce thicken properly! Leave for at least 10 minutes, but try not to exceed 30, if you can.

For the Prawns:
  • 6 big whole prawns, about 180-200g
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda

Wash and dry your prawns. Make sure they are completely dried, then take off the heads and peel the prawns leaving the last section and the tail on. Pull off the sharp thorn part of the tail. Make sure to keep the shells, because you will need them later. Devein the prawns by cutting a slit into the rounded side and removing the black vein. I prefer not to wash the prawns after this because I find that it removes a fair part of the flavour. Sprinkle your prawns with the salt and the baking powder and mix thoroughly. Leave to marinate for 10-30 minutes.

For the Sauce:
  • 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1½ tsp light soy sauce
  • 2½ Tbsp thick soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Thai fish sauce
  • ½ tsp sesame oil

All of this sauce will easily fit into a small rice bowl. It may seem like that is too small an amount of for all those noodles, cabbage and meats, but trust me; it’s enough. Mix all the ingredients together before you start cooking. Trying to pour all this in separately while your hot wok is slowly burning your noodles is a very bad idea indeed.

To finish the noodles:
  • 400g thick yellow noodles (udon noodles will do as well)
  • 100g white cabbage, about ¼ of a small cabbage
  • 2 whole spring onions
  • 2 Tbsp pork crackling
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 small piece of ginger, about half a thumb
  • 2 tbsp lard
  • 200ml stock (or water with a little stock cube)

Wash the noodles in 2 changes of water and drain them in a colander.

Cut the white cabbage into thick strips. Cut the spring onions into 3cm long sections. If the spring onions are very thick, you may want to split the bottom sections lengthwise into two. Peel and chop the garlic cloves. The garlic in Hokkien Mee is traditionally just roughly chopped, but you can mince the garlic fine, if you prefer. Peel and slice the ginger and measure out 200ml of stock.

We can now start cooking. Heat the wok, add the lard and fry the crackling for 2-3 minutes until slightly darkened and crisp. Remove and reserve. Add the prawn heads and shells to the lard and fry for a minute, just to infuse the oil. Remove and discard (or use for stock). If the shells have eaten up some of your lard, add a little extra.

Make sure your lard is hot, then quickly fry the prawns to just cook them. The time for this will depend on the thickness and temperature of the prawns, but will rarely be more than two minutes. If your fat is hot enough and your prawns are not watery, you should get a nice light golden colour. Remove from the wok and keep.

Check that your fat is smoking hot, then add the ginger, stir and immediately add the garlic. As soon as the garlic takes the lightest bit of colour, add the meat and liver and give them a quick stir. Now here’s the difficult part; do not keep stirring, but spread the meat liver mix out flat and let it sear for 30 to 60 seconds before you stir again. This way you will get a nice brown colour. Your liver will be cooked through and have some bite, but then this is how it is supposed to be!

When the meat is completely cooked and slightly brown, add the noddle and stir to mix. Pour in the sauce and toss to coat as evenly as you can, then add the stock and mix. Leave at full heat to boil until reduced stirring occasionally. This should take no more than 3 minutes.

You will notice the sauce becoming dark and shiny as it reduces. Once the sauce is bubbling in the middle of the wok as well as on the sides, you’re probably done. Add the cabbage and give the whole thing a 30 second stir. Turn off the heat and add the prawns and spring onions. I keep a few of the spring onions to put on top of the finished noodles. Dish out your noodles by just sliding them off the wok rather than ladling them out. It will help them look better on your serving dish. Distribute the crackling all over the noodles as evenly as you can. Serve. Eat.

NOTE:          There are actually two types of Hokkien Mee in Malaysia, depending on where you are. If you ask for it in KL, you will get the noodles in our recipe above, if you ask for it in Penang, you will get a prawn noodle soup. Go figure.

Shopping List:

  • 400g thick yellow noodles (udon noodles will do as well)
  • 150g pork shoulder
  • 75g pork liver
  • 6 big whole prawns, about 180-200g
  • 100g white cabbage, about ¼ of a small cabbage
  • 200ml stock (or water with a little stock cube)
  • 2 Tbsp pork crackling
  • 2 tbsp lard
  • 2 whole spring onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 small piece of ginger, about half a thumb
  • light soy sauce
  • thick soy sauce
  • oyster sauce
  • Thai fish sauce
  • Chinese rice wine
  • sesame oil
  • salt
  • corn starch
  • baking soda

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