I grew up with food allergies. I remember distinctly breaking out in hives as a small child after eating prawns. Not unsurprisingly, both my kids developed food allergies as well in infancy. Kid#1 started out with massive hives with a tiny exposure to cow’s milk in a teeny bite of baby biscuit. Later testing showed allergies not only to cow’s milk, but also wheat, egg, fish and shellfish. Which pretty much resulted him in living on an almost pure diet of chicken rice as a kid, which also explains his plus size as a young child. Kid#2 had egg allergy which she fortunately outgrew and one of her favorite snacks now is liu sha bao (流沙包; molten egg custard bao). Shellfish allergy is one of the allergies that tends to stay, so I was fortunate indeed by late childhood to have outgrown the allergy. Like most Singaporeans I adore shellfish – crabs, prawns, mussels, clams are on my favorite food list. And of all the local food dishes at the hawker center, I would say that Hokkien Prawn Mee is my ultimate go to noodle dish.
I remember years ago when I was doing my post-doctoral fellowship in NY, I really missed local food. And the Chinese food offered in the US is nothing like what I was used to. I remember the first time being truly horrified at being offered a bolster-sized egg roll…ewwww! Nothing like the tiny, crispy spring rolls we used to enjoy back home. This led to me deciding to try to make Hokkien Mee by myself (aided and abetted by Sharon, another good friend and great cook who lived in NY). I had found a second hand recipe book called “Favourite Asian Meals” by Dorothy Ng, a really old school cook book which usually tells you to add Mix A to Marinade B to Mix C. In those days there were no online recipes of South East Asian dishes. Anyway that experiment was the single successful local dish that we made during our attempts to stave off food homesickness.
Hokkien Prawn Mee is not that easy a dish to make. The secret to this dish is a truly decadent and rich stock. Preparing this stock is an absolute must and is worth the extra time. The noodles are then cooked in a part fry, part braise method. As usual, Shirataki noodle is my low carb substitute to wheat noodles. The rest of the recipe is pretty similar to what is out there for regular full carb Hokkien Mee. I used to say that I would order Hokkien Mee as my last meal before I died, but this low carb alternative means that I can have it even when not on my death bed! 😀
LOW CARB HOKKIEN PRAWN MEE NOODLES
- 3 liters water
- 200 g pork belly
- 500g spare ribs
- 500g local clams, washed with gritty sand removed
- 50g ikan bilis (dried anchovies)
- 400 – 500 g prawn shells (or whatever you have on hand)
- 1 squid, cleaned
- 10 medium prawns with shells on
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1/4 tsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp oil
Hokkien Prawn Mee
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 eggs lightly beaten
- 4 packets of shirataki noodles, prepared separately by draining and dry frying
- 10 peeled and cooked prawns (from the stock process listed above)
- Sliced pork belly (from the stock process listed above)
- 1 cuttlefish, insides removed and cut into rings.
- 60g bean sprouts
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp pork lard, prefried.
- 3 stalks chives, cut in 2 inch lengths
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 limes halved
- 1 tsp sambal chilli
1. In a soup pot, heat 2 tbsp oil on high heat, then fry the prawn shells until fragrant and slightly browned, approximately 8 minutes.
2. Add 3 L water to the pot.
3. Add 10 prawns and pork belly and parboil. Remove the prawns after 3 – 4 minutes and the pork after 10 minutes. Peel the prawns and remove the vein and set aside. Throw the shells and heads into the soup pot. Chill the pork belly in the fridge for 10-15 minutes, then slice thinly.
4. Add the spare ribs and clams. Simmer for another ½ hour.
5. Drain the stock and set aside.
6. Heat 2 tbsp oil to a wok or large saucepan and add the beaten egg. Scramble the egg till almost cooked, then add the shirataki noodles and bean sprouts. Add 2 ladles of prawn stock and fry for another minute or so till noodles are relatively dry.
7. Push the noodles and egg to one side, add 1 tbsp oil then add minced garlic and lard pieces. Fry garlic till fragrant then mix the garlic and lard together with the rest of the noodles.
8. Add 2 cups of stock and cover to braise the noodles for about 3 minutes. Add the chives and 1 tbsp of fish sauce and 1 tsp dark soy sauce for color and continue to stir for another 1 minute.
9. Add the prawns, sliced pork and cuttlefish. Cook for another 1 minute so that the cuttlefish is just cooked. Serve with lime halves and sambal chilli.