Friday, June 15, 2007

Char Mien (Fried Noodles)

A banquet would not be complete without a plate of noodles. The Foochows consider this as a dish to help you go on your homeward journey with a truly full stomach. It is called the TIEN PAH dish.

This is Foochow etiquette. While the host tends to be extremely gracious, giving a very generous spread, he may feel bad if the guests are still hungry by the 8th course. So he will send out a Tien Pah, which can be a rice, a noodle or mee hoon dish. If the guests are still hungry, they would eat some of the noodles. If they are very very full, they would not touch the dish. So this is very subtle communication.

However, if it happens that all the guests at the table love noodles, then they might miscommunicate with their gracious host and finish the whole plate! What if the noodles is so out of this world delicious? The guests could clean the plate too. But normally, the fine Foochow guests would just not touch the noodles out of courtesy. A lot thus can be said about the practice of Tien Pah. (literal meaning : add to make stomach more full)

Char Mien Foochow Style

10 large river prawns
250 gm pork (sliced into very thin slivers)
a few pieces of finely chopped pork fat (optional)
100 gm minced chicken
100 gm fish slices
750 gm fresh yellow noodles (yew mien)
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
2 Tbsp black soy sauce
2 Tbsp light soy sauce (mixed with 2 tsp of cornflour)
1 Tbsp fish sauce

l/2 bowl chicken stock
l packet of green mustards (yew chai), sliced
4-5 spring onions finely sliced
1/2 bowl finely chopped coriander (for garnish)
1 Tbsp finely ground black pepper


1. Clean and devein prawns, marinade with a little salt. Leave aside for half an hour.
2. Slice all pork and fish and marinade with a little salt. Leave aside for half an hour.
3. Fry the noodles, bit by bit, in a wok with a bit of oil to create a "slightly burnt" smell.
4. Heat oil in wok, fry the pork fat until crispy. Dish up and set aside.
5. Reuse the wok and the oil to fry the garlic until pale gold. Add the pork, fish slices and the prawns, stir for 2-3 minutes. Add the noodles to the wok and stir fry over a high heat until well mixed. Add the sauces, pepper and vegetables and stock. Stir fry over a high heat until the mixture has heated through and the sauce has been absorbed.
6. Finally add the spring onions and cook 1 minute. Plasce in a serving dish;garnish with coriander.

This is enough for ten people. For a small family, half the recipe would be enough.

And you are cooking a one dish meal then just use 200 gm noodles and a 1/4 of the other ingredients.

Frying of noodles need a lot of practice and so be patient and keep on trying before you perfect your style.

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