Do you prefer Pan Mee or Mee-Hoon-Kuay?
Some says they are the same. Some argues that they are different, but that's due to the shape of the noodles. Pan Mee (板麺, pronounced as Ban Mian in mandarin) is a Hakka-Style noodle, originating from Malaysia. Some translate it as "flat flour noodle", while some, translate it as "board noodle".
Flour hand-kneaded into dough traditionally torn into smaller pieces of dough by hand, but such laborious work is conveniently replaced by machine that can produce variety of shapes. Pan Mee typically served in soup, together with dried anchovies, minced pork, mushrooms and leafy vegetables. In my hometown, 树仔菜 (aka pucuk manis / manicai 马尼菜) is used.
My grandmother used to cook this delicious noodles for us. Usually she will let us have our choices of Pan Mee or mee-hoon-kway, and she will prepare the dough accordingly. That's one of the sweetest childhood memory. All she need is pack of flour, some anchovies and vegetables. She can cook up a comforting bowl of soup dish for everyone in the house. My grandmother has 12 child. My mom is the youngest, the last amongst the 12th. I haven't even tell you the number of grandchild she have. You can imagine that now. My grandmother is a wonder woman!
Because this is a very simple noodle soup dish, the soup plays a very important role in the preparation of Pan Mee. I've seen variations in soup base preparations. But for my grandmother, she use only dried anchovies and soya bean for the soup. Yes. Only two ingredients, but it makes great and flavorful soup base. Sometimes, the simpler it is, the better it taste.
I'm very straightforward and I'm not afraid to tell you. I don't have my grandma's exact recipe. I only vaguely remember what are the main ingredients my grandma use. I found Alan's recipe is the closest to my grandma's simplicity. So, I just followed, but with minor modifications.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
(Source : Alan, with slight modification)
- 65g Dried Anchovies (aka Ikan Bilis / 江鱼仔)
- 180g Soya Beans (黄豆）
- 10 cups of water
- 1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
- 250g Plain Flour or All-Purpose Flour
- 2 Eggs
- 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
- 5-7 tbsp water, adjust according to dough texture
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- flour for dusting
for Minced Meat Sauce
- 300g Minced Pork (绞肉), preferably ground pork belly
- 4 Chinese Mushrooms (香菇), soaked till soft, cut into strips
- 2 Black Wood Ear Fungus (黑木耳), soaked till soft, cut into strips
- 4 cloves Garlic, peeled, chopped finely
- 5 Shallots, peeled, chopped finely
- 2 tbsp Oil
- 2 tbsp Dark Soya Sauce
- 1/2 tbsp Oyster Sauce, adjust to taste
- 1/2 tbsp Sugar, adjust to taste
- 1/2 tsp Pepper
- 1 tsp Corn Flour, to be mixed with mushroom soaking water
- a bunch of 树仔菜 (aka pucuk manis) or Choy Sum 菜心 or any of your favorite green leafy vegetables that serves 4 sharing.
- 4 Eggs
- Fried crispy anchovies
- Fried crispy shallots (optional)
- For the soup, there are some Pan Mee sellers likes to add pork bones into the soup to create extra sweetness. Some uses soya beans, some don't. But the general rule is... dried anchovies should be there.
- My grandma will only provide minced meat sauce and eggs when her budget allows. Eggs are usually cracked onto the soup and cook together with the noodles. It would be too costly for her to add eggs on every serving.
- I personally prefers 树仔菜 (aka pucuk manis), but when first preference is not available, I shall go for my alternative Choy Sum 菜心.
- Fried crispy shallots is optional. But most Pan Mee stalls provide this topping.
Method (for the soup)
- Give dried anchovies and soya beans a quick rinse.
- Soak soya bean in hot water for 20mins. Using both finger tips, rub away the skin from the soya beans. This is quite tedious. You can choose to skip this step if you are feeling lazy.
- In a large soup pot, add 2 tbsp of cooking oil, add in anchovies, stir fry anchovies till fragrant.
- Add in water and prepared soya beans, and bring to a boil. Lower flame to simmer with lid on for 20mins. Season with salt, turn off flame and leave to steep.
Method (for the noodles)
- Combine flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Form a 'well' in the middle and crack in the eggs.
- Add cooking oil and begin to combine everything together, adding water slowly by individual tablespoons until a non-sticky dough is obtained
- Dough needs to be kneaded repeatedly until smooth and uniform in color.
- Cover dough with cloth and set aside to rest for 30 to 40 mins to relax the gluten.
- After resting the dough long enough, go back to the dough by first dividing the dough into 4 portions.
- Using pasta machine, process individual dough portions by repeatedly laminating and thinning the dough into elongated flat sheets before cutting into taligatelle-like strands. Dust some flour on the noodles to prevent noodles from sticking together. If pasta machine is not available, simply roll dough with rolling pin, on a flat surface dusted with flour, into elongated sheets before folded the dusted sheets slightly and cutting into strips.
- If you are making mee-hoon-kuay, simply hand stretch the flat sheets dough into desired free-style shapes accordingly.
Method (for the meat sauce)
- In a saucepan, heat up 2 tbsp cooking oil. Add chopped garlic and shallots, stir-fry until shallots turned translucent and aromatic.
- Add minced pork followed by all seasoning and stir-fry until meat is cooked and uniform in color.
- Add in mushrooms strips, black wood ear fungus strips, and some mushroom soaking water. Stir well and cover with lid. Leave to simmer over medium low heat for 10mins.
- Add some corn starch mixed with some mushrooms soaking water to thicken the sauce.
- Dish up, covered, and set aside.
Everything is prepared for the meat sauce.
Meat sauce is well cooked and in uniform color.
Method (to cook pan mee)
- Prepare two heavy saucepan. One side is 2 ladle cups of boiled water, another side is 2 ladle cups of soup base. Bring both to a boil
- Add a serving of noodles into the boiling water saucepan, cook noodles for a minute. Transfer half-cooked noodles into the soup base saucepan, and add a serving of vegetables. Adjust your cooking time accordingly.
- When noodles are cooked, crack an egg into the middle of the pot and leave it with lid on briefly for about 20 secs for the white to cook slightly.
- Ladle everything into a serving bowl, try not to break the yolk. Garnish generously with one portion of meat sauce, fried crispy anchovies, fried crispy shallots and serve!
Pan Mee... Long, flat striped noodles.
While mee-hoon-kuay is free-style shaped flat dough by simply hand stretch the flat sheets dough in organic forms. There's no rocket science. Everyone can do this. To me. it should look homely and comforting. There's no rules here.
Look at my Pan Mee soup. The soup is quite clear and less cloudy compared to those selling outside. Although there's extra effort in cooking process, but this will make your noodles taste better in overall.
In Kuala Lumpur, Klang Valley, there's a popular version of Pan Mee that is prepared dry version. Everything is the same, just that they are without the soup, fiery dry chillies flakes are added, topped with some spring onions and stirred into noodles. That's another great way of enjoying Pan Mee.
Maybe next time I will try making dried version of Pan Mee.
I love this soup noodles. I think everyone should make this at home at least once. This just involves a few ingredients, and I guarantee you that this is a great bowl of comfort food, and something easy to prepare for weekend lunch for family.
So.... do you prefer pan mee? or mee-hoon-kuay?