January 31, 2018

Sibu Tales : Foochow Wet Noodles or Mun Mien

The exquisite Foochow Mun Mien or Wet Noodle is in fact quite elusive. There are certain features the chef must remember to bring out the aroma, taste , texture, colour and presentation of this noodle to an unforgettable state!!

My Uncle Lau Pang Sing and my grandmother Tiong Lian Tie were creative cooks. Besides preparing the very basic Foochow dishes using the big Chinese wrought iron kuali and wood stove, they were often adventurous enough to cook many memorable dishes to entertain the grandchildren who came to visit during the school holidays. Having as many children as a dozen or more was not easy. Hence noodles played an important of our holiday diet during those Nang Chong days - adequately to "fill the stomachs".

The secrets of the mun mien?  I would say there are a few. One is the addition of the aromatic Foochow red rice wine which my grandmother made herself. Besides another important ingredient was the pork crackle which she had plenty of because in those days, oil was more or less just made from pork fat. A third which must be mentioned is Lard which is a no no today for health reasons. But if you add a bit of pork crackle to the noodle, it will definitely make a lot of difference today.

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Mun Mien from Chong and Law , Miri

These three photos are mun mien from three different outlets in Miri.  the best one, according to my taste is the first photo, and the mun mien was cooked by Chong and Law. The noodles are a bit "swollen", which makes the texture soft and tender. The sauce has a taste of wine which makes the diner rather happy. Although not all the necessary ingredients were put into the dish, the taste was just about right because some slices of liver were found in the noodles.

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Close up of foochow mun mien, lots of sweet dark and thick soy sauce. Some pepper would be nice. No chillies

For four people:
2-3  cups yellow or yiw mien (bought in the fresh market)
a cup of thinly sliced meat (chicken, pork,etc)
1/2 cup cleaned prawns
1/2 cup fresh fish slices like tapah or red fish,fish balls
2 cups green mustard (sawi)
1/2 cup liver (you can use chicken liver)
garlic (your own amount desired)
Some pork crackle, crushed into small bits
Some salt.

Sauce: 1 tablespoon red wine(or Xiao Xin wine) + 2 tsp corn starch, 2-3  cups warm water, mushroom powder or chicken stock  if you have, 1 tablespoon thick black and sweet soy sauce (to taste), some pepper

  1. Cook noodles in boiling water with a bit of salt. Drain.
  2. Slice pork loin into thin slices, against the grain. Slice the fish, liver and fish balls into thin slices.
  3. Remove shell from the shrimps, but leave the tail. Remove the black vein.
  4. Clean the mustard greens, discard the hard base, then slice leaves into smaller pieces.
  5. Heat a little cooking oil in a non-stick wok.
  6. Stir-fry garlic until fragrant and golden brown. Add the pork crackle.
  7. Add the pork slices and stir-fry until almost cooked.
  8. Add fish and prawns. . Stir well. Add the noodles and mix well.
  9. Add greens . Mix well.
  10. Add the sauce. Cover the kuali and let the noodles soak through. This is the stage where the chef has to be careful. It depends on how much noodles you are cooking. (So add water accordingly. If you wish to have more sauce, add more warm water.) It takes a few minutes. We call this the MUN stage when the noodles become thoroughly soaked in the gravy and improve in its  texture yet retaining its chewiness.(A good server will tell you that mun mien takes longer to cook than all the other fried noodles.)

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