Easy KL Hokkien Mee

For the longest time, I had been craving for the authentic KL version of hawker-style Fried Hokkien Mee – thick, dark, slippery, sticky noodles with lots of gooey, caramelized gravy and a breath of wok. If you recall, my previous encounter with Hokkien Mee was at Temasek restaurant, which did a terrible job at promoting our Malaysian food. I remember telling myself at that time that I would take it upon myself to cook this dish to my own liking, just so that I did not have to endure second class Malaysian food there again. So when I finally had the time to cook and experiment, I was quite amazed at how easy it was to cook this dish! Don’t get me wrong, of course there are many ways one can cook this dish or even make this dish even better, but if you are a full-time working mother like me, this would be a good recipe as it doesn’t involve much prep work and it really does taste good!

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KL Fried Hokkien Mee / Hokkien Char

I actually looked up quite a few recipes online and found that most of them require flounder powder and pork lard. I can’t find flounder/flatfish powder in groceries here, so my recipe had to make do without. As for pork lard, I know it’s an essential item for Hokkien char but it does take time and focus to slowly fry those fatty pork layers so my recipe doesn’t have that too. So, here goes my easy peasy Hokkien Mee recipe, perfect for busy working moms! :)

Ingredients:

  • 500g Hokkien noodles (I used the Hakka brand noodles)
  • 8-10 pcs of medium sized prawns
  • 1 pc of fish cake sliced thinly
  • Asian greens – choy sum or bok choy or even lettuce
  • 100g of pork or chicken sliced thinly
  • 2 tbs of cooking oil
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped finely
  • 3 tbs of cooking caramel (I used Cheong Chan – refer picture)
  • 1 tbs oyster sauce
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 250ml of chicken stock
  • 1 tbs corn starch mixed with 2 tbs water
Cheong Chan Cooking caramel

Cheong Chan Cooking caramel

Hokkien Noodles

Hokkien Noodles

Steps:

1. Blanch the noodles by pouring hot water onto them and draining it away after one minute. This is so that the noodles would be loose and easy to handle when you cook them later.

2. Heat up wok/pan with oil at medium heat.

3. Add in garlic and fry for about 30 seconds until golden and fragrant.

4. Add in prawns, sliced meat, fish cake and fry for 2 minutes at high heat.

5. Add in vegetables and fry for another half minute.

6. Add in the noodles, then the cooking caramel, oyster sauce and soy sauce.

7. Add in chicken stock and mix well, then reduce heat.

8. Simmer for about 10 minutes until sauce slightly thickens. (You can add water here if you prefer more runny gravy)

9. Finally, add in corn starch + water mixture into the noodles and give it a good final stir. You should see the gravy thicken up and noodles start sticking together.

10. Serve while it’s hot!

Thick and caramelized sauce - slurp!

Thick and caramelized sauce – slurp!

All gone in a matter of minutes!

All gone in a matter of minutes!

Fried Hokkien Mee / Hokkien Char
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Malaysian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 500g Hokkien noodles (I used the Hakka brand noodles)
  • 8-10 pcs of medium sized prawns
  • 1 pc of fish cake sliced thinly
  • Asian greens - choy sum or bok choy or even lettuce
  • 100g of pork or chicken sliced thinly
  • 2 tbs of cooking oil
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped finely
  • 3 tbs of cooking caramel (I used Cheong Chan - refer picture)
  • 1 tbs oyster sauce
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 250ml of chicken stock
  • 1 tbs corn starch mixed with 2 tbs water
Instructions
  1. Blanch the noodles by pouring hot water onto them and draining it away after one minute. This is so that the noodles would be loose and easy to handle when you cook them later.
  2. Heat up wok/pan with oil at medium heat.
  3. Add in garlic and fry for about 30 seconds until golden and fragrant.
  4. Add in prawns, sliced meat, fish cake and fry for 2 minutes at high heat.
  5. Add in vegetables and fry for another half minute.
  6. Add in the noodles, then the cooking caramel, oyster sauce and soy sauce.
  7. Add in chicken stock and mix well, then reduce heat.
  8. Simmer for about 10 minutes until sauce slightly thickens. (You can add water here if you prefer more runny gravy)
  9. Finally, add in corn starch + water mixture into the noodles and give it a good final stir. You should see the gravy thicken up and noodles start sticking together.
  10. Serve while it's hot!

Neglected Feet

I love shoes! Well, who doesn’t? But after having Little J in our lives, I find that I don’t have time to go out anymore, not to mention shoe-shopping. So, my only other resort was online shopping. The drawback with online shopping is that you can’t see the actual product before buying, and when it comes to shoes, you can’t try them out either. And we all know how important it is to try out shoes before buying to make sure it’s the correct fit and comfortable.  So the other day, I bought this pair of Hush Puppies online because I was attracted to the pretty flowers on the soles.

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New shoes

I was really excited to try them out during my weekend outing with the family, but after about an hour of wearing, I was starting to get blisters on my feet. :( But because we were out, I had to endure the pain until we were done with lunch/shopping/etc before I could go home to remove my shoes. At that point, I was upset thinking that I had wasted my money buying a pair of shoes that were not comfortable and that I wouldn’t probably wear again.

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 Blister

Until a few days later, I was sent a love package from Scholl! They seemed to know exactly my problem and had all the right products! First, I took out a couple of the Blister Shield plasters for instant relief of my blisters. Even though I wasn’t going to wear my new shoes again, I still had to endure the pain of my blisters when I wore other shoes. So these plasters were great to provide relief and protection for that. Otherwise, I would have to be wearing slippers to work!

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 Care package from Scholl

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Blister Shield Plasters

Next, I saw the Heel Shields and thought that maybe, just maybe, there’s light at the end of the tunnel for my new shoes! I quickly removed the packaging and pasted the gel shields at the back of my shoes. To be honest, I was quite skeptical that a pair of gel pads would make a big difference to the shoes, but I tried them on anyway. And what do you know? I didn’t feel any more pain or have any more blisters on my feet! It was quite incredible. I was so glad that my new pair of shoes did not have to go to waste now. :)

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Heel Shields

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Invisible gel shields on my new shoes

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I can finally wear them again!

While we’re on the topic of feet, I find that we neglect our feet all too often, especially me. I spend time on my face, my hair, and even an occasional massage on my body, but feet? Who cares. I take them for granted, I do. But we actually rely on and use our feet the most to get from one place to another. These poor babies suffer the most pressure, wear and tear, and bear the most weight being at the bottom of the chain. So it is no surprise that my feet were in a bad condition – dry, almost cracked heels with wrinkly skin. I felt really guilty looking at the state of my feet that I immediately slathered on the Scholl Eulactol Heel Balm Gold on them right after shower. According to the box, I would see results in 3 days. But I didn’t have to wait 3 days! I saw results just after 1 day! Look at how my heel is now so moisturized and smooth. :) I have to get Saucer to start using this too. LOL

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Before and after using Scholl Eulactol Heel Gold

Last but not least, I must not forget about the little one. Since he started walking, he was always happily putting his new skills into good use. We live just a few doors away from a park, so that’s his favourite hangout place every weekend. To keep his feet dry and his shoes smelling fresh after every use, I used the Scholl Fresh Step Foot Spray on his little pair of shoes. It’s anti-perspirant so it helps to keep the shoes dry even when he’s actively playing, which also keeps him comfortable. Of course, it smells wonderful too! Every time after I spray his shoes, even the whole living room would smell nice. :)

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My little man at the playground

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Giving his shoes a whiff of freshness

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Little J playing with the water fountain

Needless to say, I was pretty happy to discover these new products from Scholl, and you bet that from now on, I would slather on the Heel balm religiously to have beautiful feet that are soft, smooth and moisturized just like a baby’s. :)

Giant Pork Knuckle at Bavarian

I keep reminding myself, I have to post this up before October is over, because we had this meal part as part of the Oktoberfest! And boy, oh boy, it’s 31st of October now, I made it just in time. :) If you read my previous post, we had a German lunch a few weeks back during my birthday date with Saucer. That meal must have incited some strange cravings in him because a week after that, he wanted to have pork knuckle again! Lucky for us, Bavarian Bier Cafe was running an Oktoberfest promotion so that was where we headed to. There are several Bavarian Bier Cafe restaurants around Sydney, but we chose the one in Parramatta and we absolutely loved the ambience! It’s located within a fully restored historical church and it’s gorgeous.

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 What we came for

The high ceiling, the spacious dining area, the beautiful stained-glass windows, the hanging lights, the soft music in the background, they all just made the dining experience so much better. I just loved the extra room we had between tables, that pushing in a pram was a breeze. In fact, Little J fell asleep just before our lunch so having him sleep in the pram next to us during the whole time was just blissful. :)

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Restaurant within a church

For starters, we had one of their specialty, the Haus-Made Bavarian Pretzel with Butter. Now we have been used to the American version of Auntie Anne’s pretzels back in Malaysia, which are soft and fluffy with a multitude of toppings. However, the German version of pretzels is completely different in terms of texture. It has a hard exterior with a chewy inside, and is loaded with plenty of salt on the surface. It definitely took some getting used to, but I eventually got to liking it. Saucer, however, didn’t think the same, so I ended up eating half of his too! :)

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Haus-Made Bavarian Pretzel with Butter (AUD$4.50)

A visit to a German restaurant won’t be complete without a dose of the German beer, so that’s what we had. A pint of the famous Franziskaner German dark beer, which was really smooth and easy to drink. I am not a fan of beer but even I could not resist having a few good sips of it. It was just really refreshing and went really well with what we had that day.

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Franziskaner Draught beer (AUD$12)

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Bavarian Tasting Platter (AUD$30)

I had the Bavarian Tasting Platter on a separate visit with my colleagues before, but decided to put the picture here for completeness sake. As you can see, the platter had small portions of different items – pork belly, pork schnitzel and some sausages. While I loved having small portions of different things to sample, I found out that I preferred having one large portion of something I liked, better. That was why I didn’t order this again during my lunch with Saucer.

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Roasted Pork Knuckle (AUD$34/AUD$28 during Oktoberfest)

Not long after we were done with the pretzels, what greeted Saucer made his eyes shine. It was the enormous full-sized Roasted Pork Knuckle in all its crispy glory. I loved how the skin was evenly roasted with cracklings all over it, unlike the one we had at Lowenbrau, where some bits were under roasted and tough. Without even trying, I could tell that this was going to be awesome! Saucer attacked the pork knuckle straight away, and starting nodding his head in approval. It was like eating a giant piece of ‘siew yoke’!

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Amazing pork crackling

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Sinful bites of awesomeness, just like ‘siew yoke’

As for me, I thought, what is German cuisine famous for? Other than pork knuckle, there is of course the sausages! I ordered the Giant Bratwurst, which was an extra long sausage made purely of pork. It was perfectly char grilled, and served on a garlic roll with a side of chips. I always thought having just a sausage for a main meal would never be filling enough, but I was wrong. This was more than I could stomach, and we even had to pack some of them home. The bratwurst was thick, packed with flavour, moist and bouncy. The bread roll, though, was a tad too dry for me. But I did enjoy the thick fries on the side.

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Giant Bratwurst (AUD$22)

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Perfectly char grilled pork sausage

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Thick-cut fries with dips

Overall, we had a great lunch at the Bavarian Bier Cafe not just because of the food, but because of the amazing ambience. It was so pretty that every now and then, I looked up from my meal and just admired the surrounding environment. Of course, it did help that I didn’t have to tend to a baby who was napping away peacefully. :) With such a memorable dining experience, we would definitely be back whenever we craved for some pork crackling!

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Beautiful dining environment

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Bavarian Bier Cafe at Parramatta

Bavarian Bier Cafe
2-8 Phillip Street,
Parramatta,
NSW 2150 Australia.
Tel No: +612 8836 1400
Website: www.bavarianbiercafe.com
Business Hours: 11am to midnight daily

Bavarian Bier Cafe on Urbanspoon

Another Year Wiser

About 2 weeks ago, I was reminded by the fact that time waits for no one, and without realizing, I was another year older wiser. I really do believe that time seems to fly much faster when you have a baby! Every day is just a mad rush in the morning and right after work. The only solace I have is actually during work in the office, where I have my own me-time, doing my own thing, without having to constantly look up to see where Little J has gone to, or whether it’s time to prepare his food, get him to nap, etc. I can do things according to my own schedule, not his, and it’s liberating, for that 8-9 hours a day. Right after work though, it’s a continuation of my hectic rush of picking him from child care, preparing dinner, feeding him and myself at the same time, doing the dishes, preparing his bath, milk and finally putting him to bed. Repeat this every day and night, and without you knowing, a week has passed, and then a month and now, a year!

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Birthday cake

Since my birthday fell on a weekday, Saucer and I decided to take the day off, send Little J to child care as usual, and have a day out, just the two of us! Yes, we have to resort to taking our annual leaves to have some alone time, now that we have Little J in our lives. Don’t get me wrong, nothing in the world makes us happier than he does, but once in a while, we need to have some adult time with each other too. And so it started with us watching a movie together in the cinemas. Gosh, almost forgot how that felt like! :) Then, we took the train to the city, and had lunch at Lowenbrau Keller at The Rocks. Being the birthday girl, I had my meal there for free! So generous of them indeed.

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Schweinshaxn / Oven-Roasted Pork Knuckle (AUD$36)

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Crispy pork knuckle skin

Upon the waitress’ recommendation, I had the Oven-Roasted Pork Knuckle that came with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. The pork knuckle was huge! The skin was mostly crispy (except for some parts on the sides which were still chewy and rubbery) but we thought it was overly salted. Yes, I know that we have to salt the skin to get it to be crispy but I would expect the chef to remove most of the salt once it’s done. Other than that, did I mention that the portion was really huge? It was full of meat and even after 20 minutes of eating, Saucer looked at my plate and said, “It looks like you didn’t even touch the dish!”.

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Jägerpfanne /Charcoal-Grilled Veal Backstrap (AUD$31)

Saucer, on the other hand, ordered something different. We were well aware of the fact that German restaurants are usually good for pork knuckles, sausages and beer, but since we’re already having 2 out of the 3 specialties, he decided to go with the Charcoal-Grilled Veal Backstrap. It was served with home made egg noodles, mushroom sauce and melted cheese in a cast iron pan. When the dish came, I have to admit that it didn’t look all that appetizing because everything was mixed up into a mush. But it did smell amazing because of the cheese, and Saucer liked the veal too. So I was too quick to judge. But would we order this again next time? Probably not. We prefer sticking to the old favourites. :)

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Saucer and his dark beer

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Lowenbrau Dunkel (AUD$12)

Having pork knuckle in a German restaurant without a beer seemed like a crime, so we ordered one. The Lowenbrau dark beer was surprisingly very smooth and easy to drink, even for my standards. In fact, it was the perfect drink that day since it was quite warm in the afternoon, and the cold, smooth and refreshing beer was what we needed.

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Pork knuckle and I

In the middle of our meal, I was faced with yet another surprise with a 2-person band walked to our table and asked if someone was celebrating her birthday today. I nodded embarrassingly and they broke into a Happy Birthday song complete with 3 cheers. :)

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Saucer and his veal

After our long and filling lunch, we took a walk around Circular Quay and visited the Museum of Contemporary Arts for the first time. It was quite impressive that such a large and spacious building in prime location is used to appreciate modern arts with free entrance. We then walked to the city to get me my birthday present but the item that I wanted was out of my size. :( I guess I will have to make do with a belated birthday gift.

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Home-cooked dinner by Saucer

When it was time to head home, we took the train back and Saucer insisted to do some grocery shopping before picking Little J up. The sweet man wanted to make me dinner for my birthday! It was nothing fancy, but just knowing that he put in the effort to make my day special was enough to make me gooey inside. After dinner, we completed the celebration with a birthday cake. I insisted on waiting until Little J was back to cut the cake, because it wouldn’t be complete without him in the picture, would it?  We had a pretty tear drop shaped cake from La Renaissance, a famous patisserie in The Rocks. It was a mixed berry mouse cake encased in almond sponge and topped with glazed berries. Tasted as good as it looked too! Yum!

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Pretty birthday cake – Larme de Gaugin from La Renaissance Patisserie

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Mixed berry mousse, encased in a decorative almond sponge and topped with glazed mixed berries

Last but not least, a family picture for the album. We managed to take this self-timer shot after less than 10 tries, which was quite an achievement seeing that Little J is always so fidgety. My birthday celebration overall – it was nothing fancy, no romantic candle-lit dinners, no late-night movies, none of that. But we have our little bundle of joy with us, and that makes a whole lot of difference. I wouldn’t want to have it any other way, this year, and for many years to come. :)

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A picture of us <3

Sydney Fish Market

We have been in Sydney for about 2.5 years now, but have not stepped foot into the Sydney Fish Market before, albeit it being a popular attraction. I guess one reason was we’ve never been big fans of the fish market anyway, probably due to the notion that the place would smell fishy, be wet and crowded with people. But come one weekend, we thought we should at least give it a go before passing any judgements. That, and the fact that Saucer was suddenly craving for fresh oysters. So we took the train to the city, and walked from Town Hall station to Darling Harbour, and from there to Sydney Fish Market. It wasn’t a short walk, but the weather was clear and sunny, making it appear much shorter than it would have been otherwise.

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Lots of fresh seafood at first sight

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Saucer and a sleeping Little J

To be honest, even before we reached the fish market, we could already smell it. I was a bit apprehensive then, but hey, we’re almost there. Once we stepped foot into the compound, we saw a few standalone fishmongers outside and a huge open fish market inside. We reached there around 11.30am and the crowd was just unbelievable. There were people every where we went, and queues long enough to make you sigh. Thankfully, the place was clean and not wet as I feared.

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Outside the Sydney Fish Market

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Huge crowd in the fish market

Of course, while navigating through all the stalls, I had to take pictures of their very fresh seafood. I wonder if it was the lighting or if the seafood appeared to be fresher there. The shells seemed more shiny, salmon and cooked crabs spotted a brighter orange, and the oysters just screamed at you to be eaten.

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Fresh crabs on display

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Giant octopus and lots of different fish

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Fresh oysters

Apart from fresh seafood stalls, there were also stalls that sell cooked seafood, or stalls that would cook seafood that you purchased from them. For example, the stall below sells cooked seafood platters with different combinations. There was also a stall that was preparing sushi rolls with the fresh sashimi and seafood. It was hard not to be attracted to the grilled scallops that were prepared right in front of my eyes.

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Seafood platters

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Scallops

Anyway, as mentioned earlier, Saucer was craving for oysters so we scouted around for the best ones. Every stall had their version of oysters, but we chose the one we thought was freshest. Just like this stall below that had people shucking fresh oysters on the spot. Can’t get any fresher than that!

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Man shucking oysters

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Fresh oysters

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Pacific oysters

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Pack of a dozen oysters

So we eventually settled for oysters from Peters. We bought a dozen of them and moved to the cafe to get some food for lunch. To our horror, there were no empty seats at all at the cafe. And there were more people queuing up for food and seats. Since we’re hungry, I decided to go ahead and join the queue anyway. The ordering process was fast, it’s just the waiting for your food to be ready that took ages. Once an order was placed, we’re given a piece of paper with a number. And when your number’s called, you’d go to the cashier, collect your food and pay. We waited for at least half an hour for our order then, and our number was still not being called. And sleeping Little J was no longer sleeping then, and he was hungry! So I decided not to wait anymore and left to feed him his lunch first. Thankfully I had not paid for my order yet. When Saucer went back to check again about 1 hour after our order, we still couldn’t see our order ready for collection, and there were even more people waiting now. It was crazy.

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All tables taken

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The busy Fish Market Cafe

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Lobster thermidor

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Grilled prawns and more

I was really keen on ordering the lobster thermidor, but luck was not on my side I guess. It’s either that or my order just magically disappeared in the flurry of people. Anyway, we ended up getting some grilled octopus and fresh sashimi from other fish shops, so all was not lost. Since we couldn’t get any seats indoors, we went outdoors but it was the same. People were just everywhere. We ended up sitting down by the trees on the grass, seeing that the weather was just nice and sunny.

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Outdoor seating area

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View of the ANZAC bridge

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Saucer and his oysters :)

And Saucer finally had his share of fresh oysters. Yes, they were good, juicy and super fresh. But would we brave the crowd again in the future for just oysters? That’s a hard one. Maybe we might go earlier or later next time, instead of being there right at lunch time. Lesson learnt.

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Super fresh and juicy

Not Impressed with Temasek

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we miss Malaysian food! Cravings for Malaysian food hit us every now and then, especially during festive season like the Hari Raya or Mooncake Festival, when we see more pictures of good food on our Facebook feed. Therefore, it is inevitable that we scout around for Malaysian restaurants to visit during those times in need. A few weeks back, we decided to give Temasek a try – a restaurant that prides itself with Singapore and Malaysian cuisine. Even though we shouldn’t have, we went in with above average expectations.

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Roti Canai (AUD$4.40/2 pcs)

We went during lunch and our first thought was that the restaurant was quite busy even though it was probably close to 2pm. We managed to get a table in no time though, together with a high chair for Little J. The vibe of the restaurant wasn’t too friendly, we could feel waiters who were rushed and not smiling, as if we were not welcomed. Anyway, we ignored that and proceeded to look at the menu. My first impression was that the prices were on the high side. I can say that I have been to quite a few Malaysian restaurants in Sydney and the prices here are definitely one of the highest. I mean, $16.80 for a simple nasi lemak? We will get there shortly.

We ordered a couple of Roti Canai to share, but were disappointed that they did not come with any curry on the side. I mean, which restaurant in Malaysia does not serve curry/dal with roti canai??? Even the cheapest mamak place serves roti with some gravy for dip and yet, Temasek refuses to provide any curry to go with the roti even though they are charging an exorbitant $2.20 per piece! So much for calling themselves a Malaysian cuisine restaurant! We tried the roti and to be honest, it wasn’t too different from the frozen Paratha that we usually make at home. Definitely not worth the money spent.

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Fried Hokkien Mee Malaysian Style (AUD$14.80)

For mains, I had the Fried Hokkien Mee Malaysian Style. I was a bit excited when I saw this item on the menu. Not because I was craving for Hokkien Mee, but because I saw 2 different Hokkien Mee listed – Malaysian Style and Singapore Style. I thought if they had classified it down to such specifics, they would know what it takes to make Malaysian Hokkien mee the right way. But boy was I wrong. I was expecting noodles in thick and dark soya sauce, almost to caramelized consistency with a hint of charred smoky flavor, but all I got was watery soya sauce gravy with Hokkien noodles. Totally took my appetite away. I don’t even remember tasting Hokkien mee that had watery gravy. I was disappointed and a little angry that they were misrepresenting Malaysian food to Sydneysiders. Seriously, someone should do an audit on Malaysian restaurants before allowing them to claim themselves to be Malaysian restaurants.

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Nasi Lemak (AUD$16.80)

Last but not least, Saucer had the Nasi Lemak, one of the most expensive ones we had in Sydney. Sure it came with a choice of 2 sides (choice of chicken curry, beef rendang or sambal prawns) but the portion of the two sides add together was similar to the portion of a single side that I get elsewhere. Not only that, the main star of the nasi lemak, which is sambal, really, was measly! It was such a minuscule amount on top of a half of a boiled egg that it may as well not be there. And did you see the acar which was supposed to be served as a side according to the menu? What a joke it was! Literally half a spoon of acar does not warrant it a position as a side dish, I think. Yes, the chicken curry and beef rendang were good. But isn’t the core of nasi lemak really the sambal ikan bilis (anchovies) and rice? I’d much rather have more sambal and ikan bilis than for my rice to be smothered with curry, thank you very much. I guess I would not have been as annoyed had they not charged an exorbitant amount for what they claimed to be Malaysian food but were obviously far from it.

If I went in hoping to satisfy my cravings for Malaysian food, I came out feeling worse than before. They could be good in other Malaysian dishes but for our visit, we were not in the least impressed. Oh, and did I mention? They were only accepting cash on that Sunday afternoon. What a bugger.

Temasek
71 George St
Parramatta NSW 2150
Tel No.: 02 9633 9926
Lunch: Tue to Sun (11:30am – 2:30pm)
Dinner: Tue to Sun (5:30pm – 10pm)

Temasek on Urbanspoon