Prawns and other crustaceans used to scare me as a little kid. When I walked through the fresh food markets in China with my mum, I’d squeeze her hands tightly as I walked past the prawn tanks. They scared me almost as much as centipedes and spiders. As you can imagine, since there’s no way I’d eat centipedes and spiders, there was also no way I’d have eaten those scary prawns with its wiggly little legs and scary bulgy eyes and seemingly huge head. At one stage, I even thought they could have been aliens. I blame my primary school teacher.
It wasn’t too bad though since we were not all that well off back then and eating seafood was a luxury we hardly ever had.
Perhaps it was the abundance of seafood here in Australia that brought me to my senses. Or maybe it was because I grew older and taller and those tiny creatures just no longer seemed intimidating. With that said, I’m still totally afraid of spiders and centipedes and would still under no circumstances eat them. Prawns on the other hand (and other crustaceans like lobsters – YUM) I now love to eat.
One of my favourite Malaysian noodle dishes is the prawn noodles (har mee). Har (蝦) means prawns and mee （麵）is Hokkien (a Chinese dialect) for noodles. It’s a popular noodle dish in Malaysia and Singapore. It has gained so much popularity that it has become an instant noodle flavour as well. I think I bought a pack from Costco a while back and it was actually not too bad. Although of course, it definitely can’t compare to freshly made ones.
It’s not all that hard to make, although it does take a little bit of time to prepare and make the broth. As you know, the longer you cook shells, the more flavour is extracted! I hope you will like this recipe.
Har Mee (Prawn Noodles)
Time to prepare: 40 minutes
Time to cook: 15 minutes
• 250g raw prawns (unpeeled)
• 4 tbsp vegetable oil
• 150 chicken thigh fillet
• 3 cloves of garlic
• 100g bean sprouts
• 1 baby bok choy
• 1 1/2 tbsp chilli paste
• 2 fried tofu puff, rehydrated
• 250g hokkien noodles
• 15g shrimp paste
• 1/2 lime
• 1 boiled egg
• 4 tbsp fried shallots
• 50g coriander
• 50g mint
1. Roughly chop garlic, coriander and mint. Cut boiled egg in half. Cut tofu puffs diagonally.
2. Peel and devein prawns, reserving the heads and shells. Lightly season prawns with salt and set aside.
3. Fry chilli paste, har mee paste and garlic in 1 tbsp of oil on medium high heat for 1min.*
4. Add prawn heads and shells to paste and fry for 3 more minutes.
5. Add 1 litre of cold water to prawn heads/shells and bring to boil, then reduce to simmer for 30 minutes. Discard heads and shells.
6. Prepare hokkien noodles according to packet instructions and drain.
7. Season chicken lightly with salt and fry on each side on medium high heat for 3 min.
8. Add chicken, bok choy and tofu puffs to prepared prawn stock and simmer for 3 min.
9. Heat pan to medium high heat and fry prawns for 1 min on each side, or until changed colour and no longer transparent.
10. Serve noodles topped with bean shoots, bok choy, prawns, tofu puff, shredded chicken and boiled egg. Pour on prawn stock and top with mint, coriander and fried shallots to taste.
* Split prawn heads (diagram) before frying to release the flavour.
– This recipe uses prepared har mee paste to reduce preparation time.
– Choose medium to large sized prawns which are in season.
– The prawn stock can be prepared in advance.
– Traditionally, Hokkien noodles (thick yellow noodles) and thin vermicelli is used, but any noodle can be substituted. We’ve only used Hokkien noodles in this recipe.
Question time: Have you ever been scared of a type of food as a child? Have you now overcome your fears?