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Hokkien Prawn Mee Noodle Soup (Hae Mee) - Tender yellow noodles in a rich savory-sweet red-orange broth served with juicy prawns, fish cakes, crunchy bean sprouts, and crispy fried shallots. {Gluten-Free adaptable}
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5 from 3 votes

Hokkien Prawn Mee Noodle Soup (Hae Mee)

Tender yellow noodles in a rich savory-sweet red-orange broth served with juicy prawns, fish cakes, crunchy bean sprouts, and crispy fried shallots. {Gluten-Free adaptable}To make the dish gluten-free, use rice stick noodles or rice vermicelli instead of yellow noodles and tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. The recipe yields 4 big servings as a main dish, or 6 smaller servings if you plan to serve it with other dishes.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time3 hrs
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: street food
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Calories: 326kcal
Author: Maggie Zhu

Ingredients

Stock

  • 4 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 3 lbs (1.4 kg) pork meat and bone for braising (I used feet and shank), coarsely chopped (*Footnote 1)
  • 1 lb (450 g) head-on shrimp (* Footnote 2)
  • 1/2 cup (40 g) dried shrimp
  • 4 cloves garlic , peeled
  • 1 onion , coarsely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 dried chili peppers
  • 1 teaspoon white peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Noodle and toppings

  • 1 lb yellow noodles (or rice noodle sticks, or rice vermicelli)
  • 4 cups (4 oz) water spinach (or spinach)
  • 2 cups (4 oz) bean sprouts
  • 4 fishcakes
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, or to taste (Optional)
  • Fried shallots, for garnish (Optional)
  • Sambal oelek sauce (Optional)

Instructions

Prepare the stock

  • Add 2 tablespoons oil to a large nonstick pan (or cast iron pan) and heat over medium heat until hot. Add the pork parts. Let cook for 4 to 5 minutes without touching, until the bottom is browned. Flip to brown the other side. It will take 10 to 15 minutes for the whole browning process.
  • Transfer the browned pork to a 6-quart (5.5-liter) dutch oven (or a heavy-duty pot). Add 10 cups cold tap water to the pot. Cook covered until boiling. Use a fine sieve to skim the brown bits from the top of the soup and discard them.
  • While boiling the broth, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Combine the dried shrimp with 1 cup warm water. Let rehydrate for 15 minutes or until soft.
  • Separate the heads of the fresh shrimp from the bodies and peel the shrimp. Reserve the brown bits coming from the heads when you seperate them. This is the best part and adds tons of flavor to the soup. Transfer the shrimp heads to a small bowl, and the rest of the shrimp meat to a container. Store the shrimp meat in the fridge until ready to use (or in the freezer if you plan to serve the noodle soup more than a day from now).
  • Add 1 tablespoon oil to the same nonstick pan you used to brown the pork. Heat over medium heat until hot. Add the shrimp heads. Cook until both sides turn a deep red color. Transfer heads to the stock pot. Add a ladle of water to the pan you cooked the shrimp in. Scrape off any brown bits stuck on the bottom and pour that water into the stock pot.
  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, and garlic to the same nonstick pan. Stir and cook until the edges turns golden brown. Transfer the onion and garlic to the stock pot.
  • Add the rehydrated shrimp to the nonstick pan. Add a bit more oil if the pan looks too dry. Stir and cook until slightly browned. Transfer the shrimp to the stock pot.
  • Add the fish sauce, star anise, cinnamon stick, dried chili peppers, white peppercorns, and sugar to the pot. Turn to low heat, cover, and simmer for 2 hours.
  • Once done, strain the soup by setting up a big bowl (or container) with a fine sieve on the top. Ladle the soup into the bowl through the sieve, a few cups at a time. Use the back of your ladle or a pair of tongs to press the solid ingredients in the sieve, to extract any residual liquid trapped in the veggies and shrimp heads. Discard the all the solid ingredients once done straining.
  • Taste the soup and adjust the flavor by adding soy sauce or salt. The soup should taste a bit salty by itself, because most of the ingredients in the noodle bowl will be boiled and not seasoned.
  • Now you can use the soup base to make noodle soup, or store it in the fridge or freezer until read to use. Set the stove on lowest heat to keep the soup hot if you’re going to assemble and serve the bowls immediately.

To prepare the noodle bowls

  • Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Blanch spinach for just 20 to 30 seconds, until tender. Transfer the spinach to a plate using a slotted ladle. Set aside.
  • Blanch the bean sprouts the same way, until slightly tender and still crunchly. Drain and set aside with the spinach.
  • Add the noodles into the same pot of water. Cook according to the instructions. Transfer to a colander, rinse with tap water and drain. Set aside.
  • Add the peeled shrimp to the boiling water. Cook until the shrimp begin to curl and are just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes, depending on the size. Drain and set aside.
  • If you stored the soup base in the fridge, heat it until hot in the microwave or a pot on the stovetop.

Assemble the bowls

  • Divide noodles into 4 big bowls. Ladle the soup to cover the noodles. Add the boiled shrimp, fish cakes, bean sprouts, and spinach on top. Garnish with fried shallots, if using.
  • Serve the noodles hot with sambal sauce (or any other hot sauce you prefer), more fried shallots, soy sauce, and salt all on the side. This way your guests can season their noodle bowls according to their individual preferences. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. The best cuts of pork for the noodle soup should contain bones, meat, and skin (the gelatin will melt into the soup and make it extra rich). The original recipe calls for 1 lb (450 g) pork ribs and 1 pigtail. I found pork ribs a bit more expensive and the pigtail difficult to find. So I used 1 pig foot with the shank attached. It provides a great meat-bone-skin ratio and is very affordable. For these bone-in cuts, you can usually find them chopped in an Asian market. Otherwise, ask the butcher to split the bone-in pieces using the electric saw. You can cook with larger cuts too. But smaller cuts are so much easier to cook with.
  2. Shrimp heads are used in the broth to create another layer of flavor. But you can use headless shrimp, too, if head-on shrimp are not available.

Nutrition

Serving: 6g | Calories: 326kcal | Carbohydrates: 37.7g | Protein: 24.7g | Fat: 8.6g | Saturated Fat: 2.4g | Cholesterol: 121mg | Sodium: 1101mg | Potassium: 400mg | Fiber: 2.8g | Sugar: 2.5g | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 2.9mg