Prawn Noodles (虾面/Hae Mee) With Pork Ribs: In the old days, people would bring their tiffins to buy this from street vendors who would peddle their food from street to street carrying their entire ‘stalls’ on long wooden poles across their shoulders. Nowadays, its so convenient to go out to a hawker centre to enjoy this local favourite, or you can even cook it at home!
I remembered when I was growing up, there was one old man who lived at the back lane of my house. He used to prepared the Hae Mee Soup (Prawn Noodle Soup) in the zinc roof house very early in the morning. His prawn soup was the best in the world and I can still remember the smell and taste till today. It was really 真材实料 (authentic good stuff without MSG!).
He used to carry 2 big heavy wooden boxes with a long wooden poles across his shoulders. The boxes contained 2 charcoal stoves, one on each side. One stove was for the steaming hot prawn soup that he prepared earlier and the other was for a pot of hot water for cooking the noodle, beehoon, kangkong and beansprout on the spot. Besides there were all the other ingredients like prawns, meat, fish cake, crispy shallots, red-cut chillies and not to mention the cutleries, porcelain bowls and spoons and a pail of water for washing etc.etc. that he needed to lug along.
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On hind sight, I cannot imagine how tough it was for him to make a decent living, having to carry such a heavy load on his shoulders everyday with no rest at all. His business was invariably good. Before he started peddling from street to street, there was already a long queue forming in front of his house. My brother and I would bring our tiffin carriers to buy the prawn noodle soup for breakfast for our family almost every other week. The taste was unforgettable. Those were the days we will never forget.
You can definitely make this yummy dish at home, but it will take a bit of planning and preparation due to the number of ingredients involved! Once
Hope you enjoy this recipe, and please leave me a comment below if you have any questions, suggestions or feedback for me!
Suggested Modifications for Special Diets
- Child-Friendly: No modifications needed.
- Egg-Free: No modifications needed.
- Fish-Free: No modifications needed.
- Gluten-Free: No modifications needed.
- Nut-Free: No modifications needed.
In the old days, people would bring their tiffins to buy this from street peddlers who would carry all their entire 'stalls' on long wooden poles across their shoulders. Nowadays, its so convenient to go out to a hawker centre to enjoy this local favourite, or you can even cook it at home!
- 250 gm Bean Sprouts
- 300 gm Kang Kong (Water Spinach)
- 200 gm Pork Fats
- 6 Fresh Chilli
- 500 gm Yellow Noodles (Mee)
- 300 gm Kway Teow
- 2 1/2 tsp Salt
- 2-3 TBsp Crispy Shallots
- 1 TBsp Chilli Powder
- A Dash Ground Pepper Optional
- 1-2 pieces Fried Fish Cake
- 1 1/2 TBsp Belachan
- 12 Large Prawns
- Extra Prawn Heads + Shells Optional, for a richer stock (see top tips)
- 1.2 kg Pork Ribs
- 1/2 Turnip You can replace the turnip with more rock sugar, if preferred
- 6 TBsp Shallot Oil You can replace this with your usual cooking oil instead
- 3 tsp Chopped Garlic
- 10 gm Rock Sugar Optional
- 4 1/2 litre Water
- 1 TBsp Light Soya Sauce
- 1/4 tsp Dark Soya Sauce
Toast the belachan until aromatic, then blend into powder and set aside.
Wash the prawns and separate the prawn heads from the bodies. Set aside the prawns heads and bodies for later use.
Wash the pork ribs and set aside.
- Wash and peel the turnip, then cut half of it into large chunks. If the turnip is small, you can use the whole turnip.
- Remove the roots from the bean sprouts, then wash and drain.
Wash the kang kong and cut into 4 cm lengths.
Wash the pork fats and cut into small cubes.
Wash the chilli and cut into small slices for the dipping sauce
Cut the fish cakes into thin slices and set aside for later use.
Blanch the pork ribs in a pot of boiling water for about 7 mins. Drain off the water and wash the pork ribs thoroughly to get rid of all traces of blood clots. Then wash the pot clean.
In the same pot, add the pork fats and fry over medium heat until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to a bowl and let it cool down before putting into an air-tight container. Transfer the oil into a bowl.
In the same pot, add in 4 1/2 litres of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in all the prawn bodies and blanch for 3-4 mins. Remove and transfer to a plate for later use.
Next add in all the prawn heads and blanch for 3 mins. Remove the prawn heads and drain dry. Keep the prawn stock for later use.
Heat up 6 TBsp of shallot oil in a wok over medium high, then add in 3 tsp of chopped garlic and fry for a minute. Then add in the prawn heads and fry until aromatic.
Next, add in the prawn stock and continue to boil for about 10 mins over medium heat. Use the spatula to press down on the prawn head to squeeze out the essence.
Pour the prawn stock over a strainer into another pot and bring it to a boil.
Add in the belachan powder, turnip, pork ribs, salt, pepper, light soya sauce, dark soya sauce and rock sugar (optional). Continue to boil for about 1 1/2 hour over medium heat or until the pork rib is soft but not disintegrated.
Add in 2-3 TBsp crispy shallots to the soup during the last 15 mins.
Taste the soup and add more salt, light soya sauce or dark soya sauce if you prefer it darker and more salty.
Blanch the bean sprouts in boiling water for 3 mins. Remove with a strainer and set aside. Do the same with the kang kong and set aside.
Place a handful of noodle / kway teow / mixture of both (enough for 1 serving) into a wok of boiling water and blanch for a few mins. Then transfer the noodles into a serving bowl.
Top with bean sprouts, kang kong, pork ribs, prawns and sliced fish cake, and scoop the steaming hot prawn stock into the bowl. Repeat for the other 5 bowls, and serve hot with red cut chilli and soya sauce.
You can add pork lard, crispy shallots, pepper and chilli powder to the bowl of noodle, depending on your preference.
- Do you know how to tell if a shelled prawn is cooked? When you put the prawn in the boiling water for a few minutes, the prawn start to curl up. You can tell the level of doneness from the shape of the curl :- C' shape is not quite cooked, 'O' shape - overcooked, 'U' shape - just right!
- For a thicker soup base, it is best to save all the prawn heads and prawn shells each time you cook prawns and store them in the freezer. Once I have accumulated enough, I will use them to make a tasty prawn broth that can be used to make Prawn Noodle Soup, Fried Hokkien Mee or Prawn and Pork Macaroni Soup.
- Blanching the bean sprout in cold water and slowly bring to a boil for 2-3 mins will make help to retain the crunchiness of bean sprout so it won't turn limp, if that is your preference.
- Some brands of belachan are rather salty. Taste the soup first before adding in more salt.
- Discard the lower half of the kang kong stalk cos it is usually very fibrous.
- Do not overcook the kang kong otherwise it will turn black.
- Buy the smaller shallots, which are more fragrant than big shallots.
- Turnip has a natural sweetness and I used it to sweeten the soup instead of using sugar. You can also use rock sugar or both if that is your preference.
- Instead of cooking the noodles bowl by bowl, you can also cook up to 3 bowls at a time. Don't try to cook all 6 bowls at one go, as the pot would be overcrowded and the noodles will not cook evenly.