Mee Goreng Mamak: Fried noodles for the soul

Mee Goreng Mamak, all day, every day!

Mee Goreng Mamak, or Mamak Fried Noodles, is one of those local dishes that transcends all temporal boundaries.

Be it breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, supper, or some insane hour of the night or early morning, you can easily find a 24-hour Mamak restaurant ready to serve a freshly cooked plate of Mee Goreng just for you.

The word Mamak is derived from the Tamil word for uncle, although in Malaysia it typically refers to restaurants run by or serving Indian Muslim food among many other southern Indian-influenced dishes.

Mamak restaurants are normally open 24-7, come hell or high water, and are often filled with people from all walks of life at just about any hour of the day.

They’re also widespread, with small towns and villages having at least one such restaurant unless you’re in a really remote part of the country or in the middle of the jungle.

Mee Goreng Mamak is a passion for those who really love it. While the proteins and vegetables used may differ from one recipe to another, yellow noodles are a must, as is the dark sauce that coats each strand.

Ingredients:

  • 300g yellow noodles
  • 12 large prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 200g sliced beef
  • 4 tbsp crushed, roasted or fried peanuts
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 bunch mustard leaves
  • ¼ cup bean sprouts
  • 1 yam, peeled
  • 1 boiled potato, cut into cubes
  • ¼ tomato, quartered
  • 1 fried tofu, cut into cubes
  • 1 prawn fritter, cut into cubes
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup prawn stock
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil plus extra for seasoning the wok
  • 3 tbsp fried shallots
  • 2 green chilies, sliced thin

Dark sauce mixture:

  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp thick soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp sweet soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp cooking caramel
  • 1 calamansi (calamondin) lime

Aromatics

  • 12 shallots
  • 12 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp dried shrimp
  • 2 tbsp boh chilli

Method: First steps

  • In a small pot, cover yam with water and bring to a boil. Once the yam is fork tender, mash it with about 3 tablespoons of the same boiled water and set aside.
  • Using a food processor, blend aromatic ingredients until fine.
  • Heat and season your wok by wiping a thin layer of oil around it with a paper towel. You will know your wok is hot enough when the layer of oil has dried up and the wok seems to glow.
  • Add cooking oil. If your wok is hot enough, the oil will be sufficiently hot in a few seconds. Otherwise, let it reach a temperature of 180°C to 200°C.

Method: Let’s get cooking!

Add 5 tablespoons of the aromatic mixture and fry until it has darkened and the oil has separated and risen to the top (aka pecah minyak).

The heady scent of aromatics frying in a wok is just mmm…
  • Then, add in prawns and beef and stir through. Sprinkle sugar over the meat. If you’re great at using a wok, toss the contents and let the flame lick the ingredients until the prawns and beef are cooked through.
In goes the meat.
Burn, baby, burn!
  • Add in tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of mashed yam. Continue tossing to bring out the juices of the tomato.
  • Add in yellow noodles and water and stir or flip until the noodles are cooked. Use the flame to lick the noodles.
Yellow noodles into the wok.
Then mix it up well.
  • Next, add in prawn fritters, tofu, potatoes, mustard leaves, bean sprouts, 3 tablespoons crushed peanuts and 2 teaspoons dark sauce mixture.
  • Add prawn stock and stir or flip the ingredients until the liquids have been absorbed and the vegetables have wilted. You want the noodles to be wet, but not saucy.
Time to add more ingredients.
So fast you’ll miss it if you blink!
  • Add 1 more tablespoon of crushed peanuts and sprinkle salt over the noodles, do a quick stir, and then create a well in the middle of the noodles.
  • Pour eggs into the well, allowing it to sit for a few seconds before lightly scrambling the eggs and mixing it with the rest of the noodles.
A well for the eggs, just like this.
  • Transfer the noodles to a serving dish, and sprinkle fried shallots and sliced chilies all over to serve.

Extra tips

  • Boil yam with vegetables or chicken stock for extra flavour.
  • Do not attempt to flame the noodles if you’re cooking in a small, enclosed kitchen or don’t know what you’re doing!
  • It can get very smoky cooking Mee Goreng Mamak. Disable your smoke detector, cook outdoors, or use a rotating fan to blow the smoke away.
  • You can also serve your Mee Goreng Mamak with extra calamansi lime on the side, with the tops sliced off to allow for easy squeezing.

This article first appeared in butterkicap.com

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