Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mee Hoon Kueh / Hand-Pulled Noodle

Mee Hoon Kueh meaning hand-pulled noodle soup in Hokkien is my number two favourite food when I was growing in Singapore. My family and friends that have known me well enough would know that I like Mee Hoon Kueh very much... so much that I must eat it at least once in a week when I was in my 20s.

If you are a Singaporean or someone who knows Singapore well enough, you might know Qiu Lian Ban Mian. It is a chain store that sells ban mian and mee hoon kueh in most food courts in Singapore. When one of its earlier store was located in a staff food court in Changi airport, I had purposely took more than an hour bus journey to eat mee hoon kueh at this far end of Singapore. Hmmm... Now, this kind of ban mian and mee hoon kueh can be found everywhere, in fact almost every food court in Singapore.

Being a mee hoon kueh lover, I have to say that the ultimate mee hoon kueh is always the one that is cooked at home. The reason why I say this is because the mee hoon kueh that I love the most is actually the one that my grandmother and I used to cook at home.

Before the days that my grandmother became a vegetarian, we used to cook and eat our mee hoon kueh with flavoursome anchovies broth and love our mee hoon kueh with generous servings of deep fried crispy anchovies and shallots. My grandmother used to fry never-ending batches of shallots for me and our noodles as I always asked for more. During that time, I also remember the little me had this conversation with her...

"Ah ma, why is this chang tao you (fried shallot) different from the one you cooked before?" I asked in Hokkien.

"I used a healthier oil." replied my grandmother. I vaguely remember which kind of oil that she mentioned and I think it is either sunflower or canola.

"Ewww!!! I want the one that you always cooked with Knife brand oil." I said with an unsatisfied squirmy face.

Back in the days, Knife brand oil is the traditional peanut oil that we used in our daily cooking and the older version seems to be darker and thicker than what we had today. Although I was about 6-7 years old at that time, you have to believe me that I can really taste the difference.

Being the non-health-conscious younger me, I remember enjoying fried shallots with the most traditional way and it is to eat the shallots with its frying oil. You might say Ewww!!! to our unhealthy way of eating. In regardless, I can't deny the fact that the deep fried shallot soaked in its frying oil is actually the most fragrant and flavoursome to enjoy fried shallots. Interestingly, my husband also sees my point.

"It is the Hokkien thing..." He said.

I know.

After I started going out with friends, my health-deteriorating-vegetarian grandmother and I cooked lesser mee hoon kueh at home. Then, I had to rely on Qiu Lian Ban Mian stores to satisfy my craving for mee hoon kueh. Now, recalling what we used to do, I like to cook this traditional mee hoon kueh in my Melbourne home and like to share these unforgettable moments with you.

traditional Hokkien mee hoon kueh
The Traditional Mee Hoon Kueh that I used to eat a lot
This is the star of the dish... The dough that makes the hand-pulled noodles.

The texture of the noodles can be made according to individual preferences. If you are like me who prefer chewy noodles with lots of QQ (bouncy-like texture), you can make the dough with lower flour to egg ratio (250g flour : 1 egg as mentioned in this recipe). If you like softer noodle with lesser tension and bounce, you can make the dough with higher flour to egg ratio. For instance, 300g flour : 1 egg as mentioned in Rasa Malaysia or 500g flour : 1 egg as mentioned in Nasi Lemak Lover Recipes. To me, there is NO most ideal kind of recipe for mee hoon kueh dough as long as you are happy with the texture of the noodles.

If you like the chewy noodles with lower flour to egg ratio, please take note that the cooking time of the noodle will be slightly more than the softer ones.

Instead of using this dough to make hand pulled noodles, you can also use this dough to make ban mian 板面. To do that, you have to use a pasta maker to roll and cut the noodles into regular strips with consistent thickness. For me, I like mee hoon kueh the best because the hand pulling of noodles give them a variety of thickness and chewiness.

Another essential ingredient for this dish - The dried anchovies!!!
They are needed for the soup broth and extra crunch as topping. 
Traditionally, we don't coat our shallots with flour before deep frying!!!
You can use mince or sliced pork or chicken to replace this.
Two more ingredients and we are ready to cook and serve the mee hoon kueh.
To finish, I like to cook each serve of this noodle individually and it takes less than 10 mins.
Getting to eat?
Wait a minute!!! I forget to top the noodle with chicken mince!

Update on 4 Oct 2016: I have a 1-minute video to show you how I cooked my favourite traditional mee hoon kueh. Enjoy!

nom nom nom... slurp slurp...

Here's the recipe that is mostly adapted Delicacious and also Nasi Lemak Lover Recipes

Serves 2-3

Dough for mee hoon kueh:
250g all purpose flour
(I like to use Top flour when I was living in Singapore and now I used Italian OO)
100ml water
1 large egg (lightly beaten)
1 tbsp oil, preferably something healthy with no trans fat and low in saturated fat
1 tsp salt

Soup base:
100g ikan bilis (dried anchovy), washed and cleaned and wrapped in muslin cloth
2 litre water

Other ingredients
150g minced or thinly sliced chicken or pork
1 tsp corn flour
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of white pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil to cook the chicken mince, preferably something healthy with no trans fat and low in saturated fat
2-3 eggs, to cook
leafy vegetables preferably choy sum, washed and cut in short lengths

10 or more shallots, finely sliced, deep fried until golden brown and crisp
100g ikan bilis (dried anchovy), deep fried till golden brown and crisp

Extra to serve:
hot chilies, de-seeded and sliced 
adequate light soy sauce

To make the dough:
Combine flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Combine water, egg and oil in another bowl. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour the liquid ingredients into the well. Use a wooden spoon to mix until mixture form a dough.

Knead dough for about 10 mins or more until dough is smooth.

Cover bowl with cling wrap and set aside to rest at room temperature for 1 hr or in the fridge overnight - This resting step is very essential because it gives the noodle a better texture.

To cook the soup base
Using medium low heat, boil ikan bilis in water for about 45 mins or more.

To deep fry the shallots:
Heat adequate cooking oil, preferably oil with thicker kind of texture like peanut oil or rice bran oil 
in a saucepan with moderate heat until it is mildly hot and ready for frying. Fry the sliced shallots in the heated oil until the shallots is starting to turn golden brown. Remove the shallot immediately as the shallot will continue to cook itself to dark golden colour. Please note that timing is critical at this stage as over-frying will burn the shallots and under-frying will not yield any crispiness. You can either save the frying oil as one of the topping for your noodle or discard it if you prefer not to eat it.

To deep fry the anchovies:
I'm using slow-frying technique to fry the anchovies as frying anchovies in oil that is too hot will cause their outside layer to be golden brown but their inside are not crispy.

Heat adequate cooking oil in a saucepan with moderate heat until it is mildly hot and ready for frying. Do not wash the anchovy and fry them directly. Turn down the heat to medium-low and fry the anchovies until they are golden brown colour (about 15 mins). Remove fried anchovies with frying chopsticks or slotted spoon and place them on paper towels to blot off their excess oil. Discard frying oil when it is cooled.

To cook the chicken mince:
Season the chicken mince with cornflour, sesame oil, salt and white pepper. Heat oil in a hot cooking pan and cook the mince in high heat until slightly golden and fragrant. Set aside.

To cook (individual portions):
Heat some soup base in a small pot. Tear off flat pieces of mee hoon kueh dough and drop it into the boiling soup. Add egg and vegetables and allow to boil for a few mins. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To test if the noodle is cooked, pick one up and slice it to see if its inside is still white and floury. If it is not floury and translucent at its inside, you will know that it is cooked.

Transfer everything into serving bowl or bowls. Top the noodle with chicken, fried ikan bilis and shallots.

Serve hot.

Happy Cooking
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  1. oh dear oh dear.. not good to wake up to this :S... my tummy is growling arrrrr.... i love especially how you cooked your egg which gives the entire presentation such a sunny and welcoming breakfast.. lunch or whatever.. i can eat this anytime

  2. Oooo, I call it pan mee here.. Love and super duper love pan mee.. I love the ikan bilis soup, with lots of minced meat and spinach (don't like sweet potato leaves though).. I can eat 2-3 bowls at the coffeeshop! Your bowl of pan mee with egg looks so delicious, oooo with that fragrat shallot oil, cili padi dipping, yesh I want !

  3. Have liked this Mee Hoon kueh since I was a little girl, homemade ones and can get as many helpings as we want. Those were the days. Nowadays, if I eat out, if possible will ask for hand pulled ones. Mostly now they served machine cut noodles.

  4. When I was studying in the UK, I craved for this so much that I actually made one serving for myself. My friend thought it was silly of me to spend so much effort to just cook one bowl but I think it's worth it. It was so satisfying to be able to eat home food overseas. I made mine with just flour, water and salt and there was no fixed proportion (my agar agar way of doing things). I haven't made it for a long time because my husband and sons don't like soup noodles. It's also quite sad that it's hard to find the hand pulled ones in the food courts nowadays.

  5. I have never tried this kind of thick cut noodles! Are they kind of SG food? :)

  6. Mmmmm! Qiu lian is my fave go to for handmade noodles! Your bowl of noodle looks equally if not more tempting! I'm loving how simple your ingredients are and can only imagine how good the dish is when it's put together! And those crispy fried toppings seems to be calling my name! :D

  7. Our favourite noodles! I make this at least once a month, even if I forget, my kids or hubby would remind me! Just had this last week. In my Nyonya household, we call this as "cubit-cubit", named as such due to the pinching of the dough when dropped into hot broth. We all prefer it this way over the machine-cut dough.
    With homemade ones, we always have second helpings! And yes, the fried shallots is a MUST!

  8. Zoe! My husband and I love mee hoon kueh a lot! It was really nice reading how your grandma made this. This dish is also very close to my heart because my mum made it a lot when I was still in KL. My dad absolutely love this dish as well. I didn't know the texture could be changed according to the flour and egg ratio! I've always known only one ratio, haha!

  9. Hi Zoe,
    My late mom used to say "simple thing like deep fry shallot must have 'kung fu' to know how to control timing by using our eyes, nose and hands work together" hee hee ... reading your post reminds me those days helping in the kitchen when I was young.
    Occasionally I have a bowl of soupy mee hoon kueh for lunch. Love it with some cut chilli padi. Yours is so tasty ... nothing beats homecooked food ^-^!

  10. Hi Zoe, thank you for introducing me to your site - I love it and I am enjoying reading your posts.

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  12. I have never made this kind of noodle...okay, I have never made any kind of noodles...this seems easier since does not require any special equipments...and yes, I love the chewy textures...this soup would be just perfect now...
    Thanks for the recipe Zoe...hope you are having a great week :)

  13. Your noodles look so much richer and tastier than the ones I have seen in the shops, lovely recipe!
    And fantastic giveaway, thanks for hosting :)

    Choc Chip Uru

  14. Mouthwatering recipe...I love to have this :)

  15. Zoe, I love mee hoon kueh too. My dad makes the best ones, I always ask him to make it for me when I crave for it. Love love love!

  16. Hi Zoe! My mom made lots of mee hoon kueh when I was young, I really love soup base made with ikan bilis, ultimate favourite!

  17. Zoe , hand-pulled noodles sounds delicious , I wonder if some noodle shops here are serving this kind of noodles ?! Sluuuuurp :D

  18. GORGEOUS ZOE! I LOVE Ban mian and have the pleasure of eating it very often in sunny singapore! I've also learned how to make la mian before and know how to make xiao long bao and quo tie completely from scratch so I know the hard work that can go into these noodle/pastry doughs! I love however that inconsistent, chewy, thick wheat type noodles and love adding vinegar/chilli and love having lots of mince meat and egg! You've done a fantastic job with this home made recipe!

  19. Zoe, sadly I have not eaten mee hoon kueh before (so embarrassed!). My ex-roomate at uni used to mention mee hoon kueh and I used to think that it is kueh made of mee hoon LOL! I was too shy to ask and subsequently found out that it is a noodle dish hah..hah...

  20. Hi Zoe,
    I didn't know this is named mee hoon kueh until I read your post :p :p I use to eat this in a small store in a coffee shop. They cook ban main too so I tell them I want the tear ban

    Oh!! Yours look so inviting! Love the poach egg in it!

  21. Hi, thanks for the ban mian recipe. May I know how long can we keep the dough in the fridge? I am thinking of storing it so that my mum can cook it when she is too busy to go out for lunch.


    1. Hi Grace,

      You can make the dough one day ahead before using it. You can store the dough for up to 3 days in a fridge but I try not to do that because the dough will dry out if it is not properly wrapped or stored for too long.



    2. Ok, noted. Thanks Zoe!

  22. Hi, is it possible to use wholemeal flour instead? Thanks.

    1. Hi Minakoyu,

      Yes that you can use wholemeal flour instead of all purpose flour or OO flour and of course the noodles won't be as silky smooth as the ones made with finely milled white flour.

      Happy Cooking!


  23. Good feature for both adults n kids 👍🏼