I do not know how many readers know this dialect Heng Hua aka Hing hua or Xing Hua (兴化）. I have never meet any friends with this dialect in West Malaysia and Singapore except in Kuching Sarawak. In Kuching, I always have colleagues and classmates who are of this dialect.
May be readers are not familiar with this dialect but if the name Putian (莆田）is mentioned, may be may Singaporean readers can relate to a Singapore chain of restaurants, Putien Restaurant (莆田餐馆）.
This is a noodle dish that is not unfamiliar to me. In Kuching hawker centre, you can have noodles dishes operated by the Hing Hua and you can easily differentiate their noodle dish by 2 ingredients, peanut and seaweed. While in Kuching, most stalls uses a type of egg noodles (Pa Mee) but bee hoon aka rice vermicelli is more common in China and Singapore. In fact, Putien restaurants in Singapore served the rice vermicelli version.
You can even find specific Hing Hua beehoon in Singapore and Sarawak. I get mine in a Singapore wet market dried goods store. I remember seeing this in bigger supermarket too. The uniqueness of this beehoon is it is very much thinner than the normal beehoon and hence stir frying need extra care. If you cannot find this type of beehoon, you can always use other types of beehoon such as xing zhu beehoon (新竹米粉）.
What are characteristics of this plate of fried noodles beside the peanuts and seaweed? It is in essence a seafood beehoon and if you are wondering why is it seafood based, you will need to understand the location of Putian. Putian is situated at the coastal region of Fujian Province. It is a city in between Foochow aka Fuzhou and Xiamen . Therefore, many of them are making a living from the sea and seafood are plentiful available. It is also the birth place of Mazu (妈祖）or Goddess of the Sea. In addition, sea farming is one of the economic activities and seaweed were planted and harvested. Therefore, adding these ingredients into a plate of beehoon is not a surprising move at all.
This plate of beehoon taste slightly different from other beehoon due to the addition of seaweeds. As for the ingredients, I have seen people adding scallops, dried shrimps or even la la (a type of sea shells). Therefore feel free to use the type of seafood that you have. What I am sharing is more of a method of preparation instead of the ingredients. This method is soaking the beehoon with meat broth instead of stir frying the beehoon. Well this is nothing unusual as even the packaging of beehoon suggested as such due to the tiny strains of the rice vermicelli。Rough stir frying will definitely break the rice vermicelli into tiny pieces.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: 4-6 adult Servings
- 300 grams of Xing Hua rice vermicelli or other thin vermicelli
- 100 grams of prawns, with shell
- 100 grams of fish meat, sliced
- 100 grams of squids, cut into small pieces
- 100 grams of pork belly
- 50 grams of bamboo shoots, sliced
- 50 grams of green leafy vegetables such as caixin
- 5 shitake mushrooms, sliced
- Some deep fried peanuts (refer this recipe: Chinese Style of Deep Frying Peanuts (油炸酥脆花生）)
- Some seaweed of your choice
- 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
- 2-3 tablespoons of fish sauce
- Chicken stock powder to taste
- Dashes of white pepper
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- In a pot, put about 1.5 – 2 litres of water. Bring to boil and add the pork belly. Boil the pork belly for about 15 minutes or until cooked but timing will depend on the size and shape of your pork belly. The pork belly will be cooked again in subsequent step. Drain and cut into thin slices.
- Use the same pot of water, blanch the squid (about 1 minute) until set, followed by the fish meat (about 1-2 minutes) and prawns (about 1-2 minutes). Drain and set aside.
- For the prawns, peel off the shell and add the shells to the same liquid, let it boil for at least 15 minutes so as to have a more flavour seafood broth. Sift and set aside the meat and seafood broth.
- In a wok, put 3 tablespoons of cooking oil, sauté the mince garlic until aromatic. Add bamboo shoots, shitake mushrooms and stir fry for 1 minute before adding half of the meat broth. Bring the meat broth to boil and add the sliced pork belly. Add the chicken stock powder and fish sauce and let it boil for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the beehoon and use a pair of chopsticks to stir it, let the beehoon fully submerge in the meat broth. If your meat broth is not adequate, you can add more from the remaining half of the meat broth. The main purpose is to let the rice vermicelli to absorb the meat broth to the right texture. Reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
- Before off the heat, add dashes of white pepper, the vegetables and the blanched seafood. Stir until well mixed. Let the beehoon rest in the wok for at least 15 minutes before serving. This will enhance the flavour of the beehoon. Feel free to add the remaining meat broth gradually to the beehoon as it will continue to absorb the meat broth during the resting process. Sprinkle some deep fried peanuts and shredded seaweed before servings. (For seaweed, you can add them during the gravy simmering process).
If you researched into this recipe, you will know that this is a must have dish for important occasions for the Heng Hua dialect. While beehoon is common, thick noodles is another alternative. Some are preparing the same thing with lots of soup and that reminds me another dish of theirs which is famous: Heng Hua Lor Mee (兴化卤面）. Do give it a try and do not forget to add the peanuts and seaweeds that differentiate this plate of beehoon with others.
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