Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Penang Hokkien Mee

Penang in Malaysia was easily one of the top food cities I've visited on this tour of gluttony I call my life. Halfway through my visit I met a gentleman who had spent most of his 66 years in Penang and had very strong feelings on the local cuisine. He took no time in telling me that I had not been trying hard enough, and clearly needed to try MORE food while I was in town. Obviously always up for a challenge, I agreed. We'll start tomorrow, he said, with Hokkien mee for breakfast.

Hokkien mee is a noodle dish, that although is Chinese in original is found more often in Malaysia. It was brought to Malaysia by Chinese immigrants from Fuijan Province--in fact one of the most used languages in Penang is the Hokkien dialect of Chinese.

I've tried two kinds of Hokkien mee (mee means noodles). The ones I had in Kuala Lumpur were billed as "dry" Hokkien mee, meaning that they aren't in soup.

Dry Hokkien mee at Hong Ngek, 50 Jalan Tun H.S. Lee, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The dry ones are also sometimes called Hokkien char mee, and are very heavy on the dark soya. Delicious, but it's definitely advisable to stay well hydrated in the aftermath.

Hokkien hae mee (Hokkien prawn noodles) is another name for the wet version that Penang specializes in. I love Hokkien mee! And keeping in tradition with all of my other favorite soups, it's got a hard-boiled egg in it. With egg noodles and rice noodles, juicy pork, prawns, and most importantly, a broth that is well-constructed and an integral part of the dish (made from prawn heads and shells), this is the perfect breakfast food. And good luck getting it for lunch, they've usually run out by 11am.

Of course I was too flustered by the deliciousness of the stuff to write down the address of wherever we went. Sorry, hounds. But there are a lot of very interesting looking recipes online. Anyone want to try one out and report back?