This is my FAVOURITE noodle dish to eat when I get home. Not so much mee suah or laksa or kolo mee. ‘Hoongan‘, ‘kampua’, ‘cha chu mien’ and ‘kueh chap’ are what I look forward to. This noodle is mainly SOUR and sour to the max from the preserved vege (chau chai). As if that isn’t enough, we add tomatoes to make it more sour. I don’t know if this is true but women in general love sour stuff (without it being relevant to being preggers and all) and men don’t really get into it. My hubster tolerates sourness to a certain level but not MY level, my dad too. So I wonder if this is a guy thing.
The magic ingredient is this preserved vege. It looks kinda gnarly but this ingredient is common in Asian cuisines. To give the soup that extra sour boost, you want to use more of the stems and not so much the leaves, but don’t worry. I will show you what you can do with the leaves later. Or you can just use everything if you’re making a big batch. This vege comes in different brands and packaging but this was the one we used (below).
I could eat bowls and bowls of this every night for supper and not get tired of it. Coffee shops will have their own style of assembly but we normally like to eat with some prawns and pork balls. My favourite way of eating it after it’s done is to add some spicy heat from ground chilli, sprinkled with some fried shallots and scallions. Delish! Like Foochow instant noodles.
The noodles used for this dish, we just call it ‘hoongan’. It is white, rice noodles and the texture and size is almost similar to cooked al-dente spaghetti. You can get it in dried form and rehydrate it before use.
Chau Chai (preserved sour vege), chopped rather finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tomato, cut to wedges
Pork balls (optional)
Prawns, peeled and de-veined
Light Soy sauce
Chilli dipping sauce (optional)
1. Soak the dried rice noodles in water till they’re soft and stringy. Chop the chau chai rather finely or you can use the food processor to do this. Use more of the stem for extra sour kick!
2. In a hot wok, stir fry the garlic and then add the chopped chau chai. Stir fry till it’s fragrant. Add tomatoes.
3. Add chicken stock till you cover all the ingredients. Let it come to a boil.
4. Season with light soy sauce and white pepper.
5. Let it simmer for 15 – 20 mins and then taste. See if the sourness is to your liking, if you want more sour, add more tomatoes.
6. My mother cooked the pork balls separately because it was frozen and she didn’t want that thawed taste to seep into the soup. But if your pork balls are room temp, it’s fine to just toss it into the soup.
7. Add your fresh prawns at the last second and adjust any seasoning necessary.
8. This is how we like to do it; we take a few scoops of the soup into a separate pot and heat it up. Add a handful of noodles into the soup for 5 seconds. Dish it out into a bowl.
9. Add more soup to your liking along with the pork balls, tomatoes and prawns. Top with scallions, fried shallots and chilli.
Note; There is no hard and fast rule what you put as fillings. The important thing is to get the soup right. You can use sliced chicken or pork or even fish. Fishballs or fishcakes work well too. If we have leftover chau chai, here’s what we like to do with it. Click here.
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