In these carb-busting times, noodles have been receiving quite a lot of bad press. But prawn mee comes to save the day. The dish was created by the Chinese diaspora at the beginning of the century gone by, and became popular in both Penang and Singapore.
Nowadays, the origins of prawn mee (or ‘har’ mee as it’s known as in Cantonese) have proven to be a bone of contention between patriotic Malaysian foodies and their trigger happy Singaporean counterparts. All that matters, at least to me, is that it’s perfect – and healthy – comfort food, especially when served piping hot on a rainy Sunday morning. It’s the perfect antidote to banish the blahs.
The dark meat and prawn broth contains tangles of water spinach, a fistful of bean sprouts, slivers of mini prawns, two-halves of a boiled egg, and a personal preference, fried braised Cantonese noodles. The last ingredient adds a new facet to the traditional delicacy (yes, I’ve spent countless hours pondering these crucial issues), a certain richness of flavour that normal vermicelli fails to impart.
The dish also comes with a serving of sambal – chilli and prawn paste – which I feel makes the flavours too fussy. The same goes for the deep-fried shallots, when combined with the soup, overshadows the sweetness (the non-MSG kind) of the soup.
A bowl usually sells for around RM4 (approximately USD$1.30) at hawker stalls around the country. The more upmarket versions offered at restaurants will cost a bit more.