Saturday 28 September 2013

Hong Kong Noodles (This Is Not Singapore Noodles) - The 2013 HK Chow Mei Fun Declaration 香港炒米粉

I love Hong Kong noodles.

Their radioactive yellow and neon hue are something you will be no doubt able to spot from miles away. Their striking colours are alluring and their electric taste, intoxicating. This is not a dish for the faint-hearted. That utterly delectable curry spice give it that wonderfully addictive kick and flavours. This ubiquitous noodles are adored by the entire Hong Kong nation, no wonder this has long been declared as their national dish, and quite rightly so.

But alas, outside Hong Kong, this magnificent dish has suffered the fate of 'lost in translation' and been mistakenly named as Singapore noodles ....oh dear! What's going on? We Singaporean already have our famous Chilli crab and let's not forget our own national treasure - the Singaporean Hainanese Chicken Rice. So no, oh no, will we want to ruthlessly snatch this wonderful dish away from its country of origin and deny the rights to its well deserved and true title - ladies and gentlemen, I bring you........the Hong Kong noodles.

It is with heavy heart and pangs of sadness that I am now giving this dish back to the nation where it began. So take it back, great people of Hong Kong and let this luminous silky strands forever bear your name and may it bring you lots of  recognitions as it did for us.

So here I am, for one last time before I hand over this dish, I shall pay my own tribute to the Hong Kong noodles. Recreating this dish means only one thing, shop-bought Charsiu from a bonafide Cantonese restaurant. So don't go cheating by making your own from scratch as this will only ruin the integrity of the dish. 

Make sure you use lots of turmeric to ensure that acid-like yellow tinge is a bright as the glorious sun. Let's not forget about the copious amount of curry powder now, this is not the time to go all stingy on us. Fish sauce, oh yes, that much favoured magical condiment used in all Cantonese cooking. I hope this recipe will bring you as much joy as it has brought me........Oh I do 'love' Hong Kong noodles!

Disclaimer : I have been invited to write this post on behalf of the 'Reclaim Our Hong Kong Noodles Foundation - There is no such thing as bright yellow Singapore noodles division'. 

I have to say I have nothing against this famous dish other than the misleading namesake title. No one knows how the name came about, some speculated that it's because we Singapore is a multicultural society hence we add curry powder to everything. This is not true of course.

The dish itself was not as bad as I have imagined it would be. My preconceived bad impressions of it was mainly due to all the vile versions that I've tasted in the past. The worst culprit were those that served the curry powder raw. And believe me, munching on raw spices is not at all pleasant.

My tongue-in-cheek write up aside, here is the actual recipe for the dish. For the sake of this post, I have tried many versions of cooking it and this is the best of the bunch.

I have cooked the peppers separately and then added to the dish towards the end. This is a trick used in many stir fry dishes. By cooking them separately, they retains their refreshing crunch and not turns all mushy. The fish sauce might be an unexpected addition (despite my joke, it's not actually used in Chinese cooking) is actually a life saviour  and give it that unexpected pleasant umami taste.

Give it a go if you like, but whatever you do, just don't called it Singapore noodles!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

300g rice vermicelli
2 free range eggs, lightly beaten
5 tbsp groundnut oil
1 small red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 small green pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
12 raw prawns, shelled and deveined
100g charsiu (Cantonese roast pork), shop bought,  thinly sliced
2 spring onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp good quality curry powder
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp fish sauce (you can also use soy sauce)
1 tsp sugar


In a large bowl, soak the noodles in hot water for 10 minutes. Drained and set aside. 

Heat 2 tablespoon of oil in a wok over medium-high heat. When smoking, add the beaten eggs. Swirl the wok to spread the eggs thinly. Once set, after 30 seconds, flip the omelette over and cook for another 15 seconds. Remove from wok, rolled into cigar shape and thinly sliced so you get these strand of omelette.

Return the wok to the medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil . When smoking, add the sliced peppers and stir fry for 30 second before transferring to a dish and set aside. 

Heat the wok on high heat and add the remaining oil. When smoking hot, add the spring onion and stir fry for 30 seconds before adding the curry powder and turmeric. Add the prawns and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Once the prawns turns pink, add the noodles and season with the fish sauce and sugar. Tossed to coat the noodles thoroughly with the spice for 1-2 minutes. 

Add the charsiu, along with the eggs strands and peppers and give another final toss to mix and heat through.  Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately.

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