Hokkien Mee or Hokkien Char Mee is a type of dish made out of thick yellow noodles cooked in thick dark gravy made with dark soy sauce, pork, squid, fish cake/balls, cabbage and crispy fried pork fat. A very popular dish found in Kuala Lumpur and the surrounding areas.
The first time I tried this was from a street hawker in SS2, Petaling Jaya in Malaysia. It was during the night with few lighting on, it was on a street and all I can see is this noodle drenched in a really dark sauce. The sauce was so dark to the point you cannot distinguish what meats and vegetables were used in the dish, there was no colour variation on the dish at all but trust me the looks do not do justice at all to how it tasted, it was so good! Like any other noodle dishes in Malaysia. This is one of the examples of a good dish lacking on presentation.
It’s really hard to recreate this at home as authentic ones are cooked in wok with raging charcoal fire beneath them, it adds to the flavour of the dish. During the cooking process the dark soy sauce with contains sugar is deliberately slightly burnt to have that slight bitter taste that adds character to this dish, oil used also comes from the fat rendered when the pork is cooked. The recipe below is how I do this at home, although I don’t make it in a charcoal burner it comes as close as the real ones I had.
500g fresh Hokkien noodles
350g of pork belly or pork cheeks, sliced into small cubes
2 large squid tubes, sliced into squares
8 pcs fish balls, cut in half
1/3 head medium cabbage, sliced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup dark soy sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch diluted in 2 tbsp water
freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp oil from fried pork (see below)
1. Rub pork pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper then aside for 30 minutes.
2. Place pork in a wok filled with 1 cup of water. Cook in high heat uncovered, once liquid is reduced to 1/2 a cup, set aside liquid and add 1 tbsp of oil in the wok. Cover the wok and let it fry on its own oil, turning over occasionally until crispy. Remove pork pieces and set aside.
3. Scoop out oil from wok and only retain 3 tbsps. Add squid, stir fry for a minute. Remove squid and set aside.
4. Add fish cakes and stir fry for two minutes. Remove fish cakes and set aside.
5. Turn heat to medium, add garlic and sauté until golden brown.
6. Turn heat to high then toss in the noodles and cabbage. Stir fry for a minute then add dark soy sauce, sugar, chicken stock, the reduced stock on step 2, stir lightly continuously for 4-5 minutes or until noodles is nearly cooked. Add more liquid if needed.
6. Add the diluted cornstarch, sugar, pork pieces, squid and fish ball. Mix until sauce becomes thick, season with fish sauce and freshly ground black pepper.