Hokkien mee is a stir fried noodle dish from Malaysia, a small country in Southeast Asia bordered by Thailand to the north and Singapore to the south. The dish consists of stir fried egg noodles and rice noodles, prawns, vegetables like bell peppers and scallions, herbs and a soy sauce marinade. Hokkien Mee is a typical dish served by street food vendors and popular food stalls throughout Malaysia and Singapore.
Malaysia is a multicultural society made up of primarily three ethnic groups: native Malays, Chinese, and Indians. In addition, its close proximity to Thailand and Indonesia, colonial history with the British, and current influx of expatriates from around the world have made Malaysian cuisine a fusion of flavors. The food and flavors of Malaysia are like its people – a bold melting pot of cultures.
While Malaysian cuisine is broad and is influenced by many different countries, there are many foundational staples that are eaten at most, if not all, meals. Steamed white rice is a staple ingredient that is central to many of Malaysia’s most popular dishes and is the most common ingredient found in Malaysian home cooking. White rice is also used for frying in many Chinese-influenced dishes found in the country. Rice and egg noodles are also popular (both of which are used in hokkien mee) and are usually stir fried with various local vegetables, herbs, and sauces. Chili peppers are also be considered a staple as well and are most often ground into a thick sauce called sambal and is served on the side for dipping with most meals.
In addition to traditional Malay dishes, Malaysian food is strongly influenced by Indonesian, Chinese, and Indian flavors. While most Indonesian-influenced food in Malaysia takes after the spicy cuisine from Sumatra, many sweeter dishes from Java are also popular throughout the country and incorporate rice, chicken, sauces and gravies and coconut. Chinese immigrants brought many Cantonese dishes with rice and chicken with chili sauces to Malaysia and Chinese food stalls selling fried noodles and rice are common in hawker food centers. Most Indian cuisine influence on food in Malaysia comes from the southern regions of India, with a focus on lentils, coconut sauces, and curries that are eaten with bare hands from disposable banana leafs.
Variations and alternative names
Hokkien Mee is truly one name for three very different dishes from different areas of Malaysia and the Malay Peninsula. In Penang, a small region in western Malaysia that includes the island of Pulau Pinang, Hokkien Mee is served as a soup consisting of egg and rice noodles in a shrimp and seafood broth. In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, the dish is similar to that of Penang but is not a broth and instead is a dry stir fried mixture of egg and rice noodles with shrimp and a soy-based sauce. And to the immediate south of Malaysia in Singapore, Hokkien Mee is a stir fried noodle dish with seafood and the addition of pork or other minced meats. Hokkien Mee is a very different, but very delicious dish, no matter where it is found!
For this article, we focused on the traditional hokkien mee from the capital of Kuala Lumpur, which is also sometimes referred to as hokkien char mee. The dish consists of egg noodles and rice noodles, stir fried with garlic, scallions, bamboo shoots, sprouts, lemongrass, ginger and flavored with a soy sauce-based sauce. Hokkien mee is a simple dish most often cooked at home in a wok and can also be found in popular street food vendor, or “hawker”, food stalls and street food pavilions found throughout Malaysia.
- 8 oz. egg noodles
- 3 oz. rice noodles
- 20 shrimps
- 5 whole eggs , slightly beaten
- 5 cloves garlic , crushed
- 5 scallions , thinly sliced, green and white parts separated
- A few chives
- 2 green bell peppers , cut into thin strips
- 1 red bell pepper , thinly sliced
- 2 carrots , cut into small sticks
- 8 oz. soybean sprouts
- 5 oz. bamboo shoots (frozen or canned)
- 1 (1-inch) piece ginger , grated
- ½ stem lemongrass , thinly sliced
- Vegetable Oil
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 cubes chicken bouillon
- ½ cup soy sauce
- Prepare a marinade with the ginger, lemongrass, soy sauce and sesame oil, and set aside.
- Boil two separate large pots of water and place a bouillon cube in each pot.
- Add the egg noodles to one of the pots and boil until all the noodles can separate with a fork. Drain and set aside.
- In the other pot, add the rice noodles and boil for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- In a warm wok, pour 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil and sauté the garlic and the white part of the scallions.
- Sauté for a minute then add the shrimps and cook over high heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the bell peppers, carrots, bamboo shoots and sauté for 3 minutes.
- Add the eggs, blend them with the spatula and as soon as they become creamy, add the noodles and stir them with all the other ingredients.
- Drizzle the reserved marinade and cook for 5 minutes, adding the soybean sprouts at the end of cooking.
- If the mixture looks too dry, add a little soy sauce.
- Sprinkle the green part of the scallions and the chives at serving.