Also known as har mee, this hawker classic uses prawn shells and heads to develop its signature, full-flavoured broth. Do as the locals do and save shells and heads used for cooking other dishes in the freezer until you have enough – the more, the better the broth.
- 1 bunch kangkong (water spinach) (see Note), trimmed
- 200 g bean sprouts
- 250 g rice vermicelli noodles
- 800 g fresh egg noodles
- 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, halved
- 600 g cooked king prawns, peeled with tails intact (reserving heads and shells), cleaned
- Fried Asian red eschalots (see Note), to serve
- 10 dried red chillies
- 10 Asian red eschalots (see Note), roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) vegetable oil
- 40 g (⅓ cup) dried shrimp (see Note)
- 500 g shells and heads from 1kg green king prawns (keep the prawns for another use)
- 1 kg pork bones, cut into pieces (ask your butcher to do this for you)
- 2½ tbsp grated palm sugar
- 500 g pork neck
- 12 dried red chillies
- 5 red bird’s-eye chillies
- 8 Asian red eschalots (see Note), roughly chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 100 ml vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp grated palm sugar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time 30 minutes
To make broth, soak chillies in boiling water for 30 minutes or until softened, then drain. Place in a food processor with eschalots and garlic, and process to a smooth paste. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add dried shrimp and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add prawn shells and heads, including the reserved shells and heads from the cooked prawns (you should have 800 g all together), and cook, stirring, for 7 minutes or until shells turn pink. Add reserved chilli paste and stir for 2 minutes or until fragrant, then add bones, palm sugar and 2.5 L water (or enough to just cover mixture). Bring to a simmer over high heat, skimming surface to remove impurities, then reduce heat to low and cook for 1½ hours, skimming surface occasionally. Add pork neck and cook for a further 1 hour or until tender. Remove pork neck from broth, cool slightly, then thinly slice. Discard bones.
Remove prawn shells and heads from broth with a slotted spoon and transfer to a food processor with 250 ml broth. Process until coarse (add more broth to loosen mixture, if necessary). Strain through a fine sieve and return to pan, pressing solids to extract liquid. Discard solids. Cover broth and keep warm.
Meanwhile, to make chilli sauce, soak dried chillies in boiling water in a small bowl for 30 minutes or until softened, then drain. Transfer to a food processor with remaining ingredients and process to a smooth paste. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add paste and cook, stirring, for 15 minutes or until a deep red colour. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add kangkong and sprouts, and cook for 1 minute or until wilted. Remove with tongs and drain, reserving cooking water. Return water to the boil, then add rice vermicelli noodles and cook for 3 minutes or until softened. Add egg noodles, using chopsticks to separate, and cook for 1 minute or until heated through. Strain noodles and divide among 6 large bowls. Top with kangkong, bean sprouts, eggs, pork neck and prawns, then ladle over warm broth. Scatter with fried eschalots and serve with chilli sauce.
• Kangkong (water spinach), Asian red eschalots, fried Asian red eschalots and dried shrimp are available from select greengrocers and Asian food shops. Leftover dried shrimp will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 months.
Photography Steve Brown
As seen in Feast magazine, May 2014, Issue 31.