May 26, 2014

Nang Chong Stories : Uncle's Mun Mien

She was unconsoleable when she learned that my young brother Hsiung had passed away in 1981. She only knew about it in 1983 as we had kept the pre mature demise from her for two years. It was so sad to listen to her "Foochow wailing" (chiun kuoh) or the singing of funeral verses.Many people also said that she had cried so much that she became blind as she had lost her husband, her youngest son, three sons-in-law and a favourite daughter and then a grandson (my brother). In her wailing she mentioned all their names and memories of them.
In Nang Chong, most of the weddings were self catered during the 50's and 60's. It was easy for the village men to come together to cater for 10o or 150 pax. A makeshift kitchen could be set up quickly under the rubber smoke house or the stilted house. Tables were borrowed from relatives. It was interesting to see how these table tops and legs were carried on the shoulders while the men cycled from further inland, or even from the next village. One of the favourite dishes was the noodle dish, which could be a choice of Foochow Fried Noodles or the Foochow Mun Mien.

And in fact if relatives came for a visit, it was quite normal for a family to call up some relatives who live a little distance away to come together to welcome the relatives who had come from Sibu, or Kuching or Sarikei. Mun Mien was often prepared for casual visitors, whereas the Foochow Mee Sua was for Birthdays and Full Moon Celebration.

Travelling time was reckoned by "nights", or "passing one night " or "passing two nights" with Uncle or Grandmother. For example, my mother would say to me," You can stay with Grandma for two nights and after that, bring her back to Sibu to stay with us." I wonder why we Foochows in those days would never say that we would stay for three days.

Nowadays when we make trips, we would state in this way, 5D/4 N. Five days, four nights.

Visiting Grandma in Lower Nang Chong  or Ah Nang Chongwould always mean that my uncle Pang Sing,would prepare lots of good food for us. I would always remember the delicious mun mien, which many of us with busy mothers would get to eat only during the New Year or Festivals. Of course my uncle Pang Sing,would cook many other good dishes.

Ingredients for 10 people (or l table)
1. l kg Foochow egg noodles available in the wet market. You have to ask the vendor whether it is suitable for mun mien or not.
2. Roasted pork - 200 gm. sliced thinly or Organ meats like liver and fresh pork
3. Crispy roasted belly pork - 200 gm sliced thinly or fish cakes or fresh fish (caught in the river)
4. Some Chinese Sausages if you like.
5. Mustard greens, a bundle or two, washed and cut into 2 inches length.
6. 200 gm medium sized prawns, shelled and deveined.
7. Boil 2 litres of water (please adjust this amount when you watch your own cooking)

Seasoning : 10 tsp cooking oil (use lard to make it better)
garlic to taste
10 tsp mushroom black soy sauce.
some oyster sauce.
Some Foochow red wine.
Some sesame seed oil
1. Heat up wok over high flame until hot
2. Pour the cooking oil into the wok and immediately followed by the noodle. Quickly toss the noodle until it is fragrant and looks a little crispy, preferably with a little bit "burnt". It may take 5-7 mins depending on the strength of the stove (mine is a high-pressure stove). Then remove the noodle and set aside for later use.
3. Use medium flame to reheat the wok and add fresh cooking oil, approximately 3 tsp, and followed by the chopped garlic and roast the garlic until smells fragrant.
4. Add roast pork (sio bak) and stir fry for 2-3 minutes until the roast pork smells fragrant and the lard is released from the pork. Then add the remaining roast items and continue stir frying for 1 -2 minutes and add the Foochow red wine. Or cook the alternative meats you have chosen and do what you normally do.
5. Add 1 litre or more of boiling water and bring all the ingredients to boil.
7. Then add seasonings: Mushroom black soya sauce, oyster sauce and adjust to taste. Add more Foochow red wine if necessary and bring the ingredients to boil .
8. After tasting the broth , readjust the taste using some more seasoning if necessary and then add the noodles and cook in the broth.
9. Add the vegetables after adding in the noodles and bring everything to the boil. Then add prawns (optional) and continue to cook until the broth starts to thicken. 

 10. This is the final stage : cover the noodles with a good lid for about 1o minutes until all the broth is almost absorbed by the noodles. This is the stage Foochows call MUN or braise slowly. The Hock Cheu Leu restaurant chef said that he places the platter of cooked noodles in a steamer and steam for 10 minutes.

For the final touch, drizzle with sesame seeds oil before serving.

++ Mun in Foochow means braised in broth.

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