Looking to learn how to make the the best homemade Hokkien Mee recipe?
Our quick & easy Penang Prawn Noodle Soup, also known as Hae Mee or Hokkien Hae Mee, is a perfect dinner idea for a cold winter day.
This comforting Malaysian Hokkien Mee recipe features flavourful ingredients like chili paste, garlic, star anise, cloves, soy sauce, fish sauce, prawn, pork ribs and pork belly.
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What Is Soup?
Soup is a liquid food, generally served warm or hot (but can also be served cold like gazpacho), that is prepared by combining meat or vegetables with stock or water.
Hot soups are additionally characterized by boiling solid ingredients in liquids in a pot until the flavours are extracted, creating a rich broth.
Soups are similar to stews, and in some cases there may not be a clear distinction between the two. Soups generally have more liquid (broth) than chunkier and heartier stews.
In traditional French cuisine, soups are classified into two groups: clear soups (bouillon and consomme) and thick soups (purees, bisques, veloutes).
Purées are vegetable soups thickened with starch; bisques are made from puréed shellfish or vegetables thickened with cream; cream soups may be thickened with béchamel sauce; and veloutés are thickened with eggs, butter, and cream.
History of Soup
Evidence of the existence of soup can be found as far back as about 20,000 BC. Boiling was not a common cooking technique until the invention of waterproof containers, such as clay pots. To boil the water hot rocks were used.
The word soup comes from French soupe (broth), which comes through Vulgar Latin suppa (“bread soaked in broth”) from a Germanic source, from which also comes the word “sop”, a piece of bread used to soak up soup or a thick stew.
The word restaurant (meaning “restoring”) was first used in France in the 16th century, to refer to a highly concentrated, inexpensive soup, sold by street vendors, that was advertised as a cure to physical exhaustion. In 1765, a Parisian entrepreneur opened a shop specializing in such soups. This prompted the use of the modern word restaurant for eating establishments.
In America, the first colonial cookbook was published by William Parks in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1742, based on Eliza Smith’s The Compleat Housewife; or Accomplished Gentlewoman’s Companion, and it included several recipes for soups and bisques.
English cooking dominated early colonial cooking; but as new immigrants arrived from other countries, other national soups gained popularity. In particular, German immigrants living in Pennsylvania were famous for their potato soups. In 1794, Jean Baptiste Gilbert Payplat dis Julien, a refugee from the French Revolution, opened an eating establishment in Massachusetts called The Restorator, and became known as the “Prince of Soups”.
What Is Hokkien Mee Soup?
Hokkien Hae Mee is a Malaysian prawn and pork soup popularly served at hawker stalls or street food vendors. The healthy Prawn Noodle Soup originated in the tropical island of Penang, where it is simply known as Hokkien Mee.
The flavourful soup indigenous to Penang is now popular throughout Malaysia. As the name suggests, the soup finds its culinary roots in the maritime Hokkien (Fujianese) cities in China and Taiwan, acquiring its spicy flavour in the tropics.
Travel to Malaysia by Cooking Penang Prawn Noodle Soup at Home
After my contract ended in Seoul I travelled throughout Asia for 6 months, visiting the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, The Maldives, India and Malaysia.
In 2008 I spent a month backpacking through Malaysia, visiting wild Orangutans in Borneo, scuba diving Sipidan, exploring Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, eating my way through Penang, strolling the tea fields of the Cameron Highlands and wining and dining in cosmopolitan Kuala Lumpur.
Later in 2018 as a travel journalist I had the opportunity to return to Malaysia to visit The Andaman Langkawi and Four Seasons Resort Langkawi. I discovered there are plenty of things to do on Langkawi. Malaysia’s famous tropical island offers museums, jaw-dropping lookouts, unique wildlife experiences and a bustling local food market.
What I found most fascinating is Malaysia’s distinct regional food cultures. Much like the regional cuisines found in France, Germany, Italy or Spain, each destination in Malaysia had its own local speciality.
Penang is known for having an obsessive food culture. Its unique location offers a muddling of fresh Southeast Asian flavours thanks to its proximity to Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.
The island of Penang is famous for its food scene. The capital, George Town, offers restaurants serving indigenous Malay specialities as well as succulent savoury dishes in bustling Chinatown and Little India. Penang’s food scene is directly linked to its immigrant history, and the flavours here are reminiscent of what you’ll find in the hawker stalls in Singapore.
I spent 3 days eating my way through Penang’s most famous regional dishes. A local chef encouraged me to find a steaming bowl of the islands iconic Hokkien Mee Soup.
After slurping through a big bowl of spicy Prawn Noodle Soup I was officially hooked on Penang’s flavourful food scene.
Where To Eat Authentic Hokkien Mee Soup
Haven’t traveled to Malaysia before? It may be helpful to first sample Prawn Noodle Soup at a local Malaysian restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You can also assess the noodle to broth ratio, takes notes on the perfect garnishes and determine the perfect spicy heat level before trying to make it at home.
My Family Loves Traditional Prawn Hokkien Mee Soup
My dad would often make cream of tomato soup and serve a bowl with grilled cheese sandwiches and pickles. Our family also loved slurping through bowls of Butternut Squash Soup, French Onion Soup and Chicken Noodle Soup.
During October in Ontario we’d often visit popular Fall Fairs in Norfolk County, Niagara and Prince Edward County to go on fun rides, run through corn mazes and purchase fresh local fruits and vegetables at the peak of harvest season.
Garlic, onion, spinach, spices, pork and fresh seafood are available in abundance year round in Canada but we especially love to serve this spicy soup during the chilly winter season.
The best Prawn Noodle Soup is full of hearty ingredients. This quick and easy Hokkien Mee recipe is a great way to incorporate nutritious ingredients into your diet during the colder months of the year.
Hokkien Mee Soup Health Benefits
Our Prawn Noodle Soup recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
Onions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of onions can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.
Packed with folate, vitamin C, and potassium, spinach helps keep your blood, immune system and eyes healthy.
Seafood is a high-protein food that is low in calories, total fat, and saturated fat. High in vitamins and minerals, seafood has been shown to have numerous health benefits including decreasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity, and hypertension.
Homemade Penang Prawn Soup Recipe Tips
This healthy Prawn Noodle Soup is quick and easy to make at home. We’ve included a few tips for first time soup makers!
- Use a large cast iron dutch oven with a high rim to reduce splatter when cooking.
- We suggest using a high quality rubber spatula spoon when making soup so you can easily stir, scrape down the side of the pot and sip to check if it needs to be seasoned further with more salt before spooning into bowls.
- Visit an Asian grocer to purchase ingredients like fish sauce, soy sauce, chili paste and fresh Hokkien Noodles.
- We wanted to write a quick & easy soup recipe so suggest using store-bought Hokkien Noodles. If you like to make all your meals from scratch, why not try making your own homemade Hokkien Noodles?
- If you’d like to make the recipe really spicy, feel free to add additional chili paste, chili sauce, sliced chili or hot sauce.
- You can substitue pork belly and pork ribs for shredded chicken if it’s what you prefer.
- Many authentic Hokkien Hae Mee recipes are topped with hardboiled eggs.
- You may also want to garnish your Prawn Noodle Soup with fish cakes, fried tofu or spicy sambal.
What To Serve with Hokkien Mee Soup
If you’re hosting a large dinner party you might want to serve our easy Hokkien Mee recipe as an appetizer before serving heartier mains.
We love enjoying Penang Prawn Noodle Soup with Osaka Okonomayaki, Calgary Ginger Beef, Green Onion Cake, Indian Crepes, Vietnamese Crepe Bánh Xèo, Bun Cha, Pork & Beef Mince Curry Khua Kling, Chiang Mai Noodles Khao Soi, Pad Kra Pao Thai Basil Stir-Fry and Laos Papaya Salad Tum Mak Hoong.
After dinner why not dazzle your guests with one of our popular desserts such as Oat Flour Cookies with Chocolate Chips, Dark Chocolate Lindt Lindor Cookies, Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes Recipe or Cinnamon Babka For Chocolate Lovers.
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Storing Hokkien Mee Soup
If you have leftover Hokkien Mee Soup you can store it in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days. To reheat simply zap it in the microwave or simmer in a small saucepan on the stove.
We love doubling our soup recipes so can store leftovers in the freezer and save time on cooking in the kitchen. We suggest storing leftover soup in Pyrex freezer safe containers that have a snug lid so there’s not spilling.
NOTE: egg noodles and beansprouts don’t particularly freeze well. We suggest freezing the soup broth but defrosting and serving with freshly cooked noodles and garnishes.
Be sure to let your soup reach room temperature before storing it in the freezer. If you add a hot jar of soup to a cold freezer it will significantly reduce the interior temperature and potentially spoil your food.
How To Make Penang Prawn Noodle Soup Hokkien Mee
Penang Prawn Noodle Soup Hokkien Mee Recipe
- Dutch Oven or Large Pot
- French knife
- Mixing bowls
- measuring spoons
- measuring cups
- 1 lb Shrimp
- 1 lb Bone-in Pork Ribs
- 0.75 lb Pork Belly
- 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
- 1 Large onion minced
- 4 tbsp Chili Paste
- 5 Garlic cloves
- 1 Star anise
- 5 Cloves
- 1 tsp Peppercorns
- 2 tbsp Fish Sauce
- 1 tsp Brown Sugar
- 1 tsp Soy Sauce
- 12 oz Beansprouts
- 4 oz Spinach
- 250 g Fresh Chinese Egg Noodles cook based on package instructions
- 250 g Rice Noodles cook based on package instructions
- 3 tbsp Fried Shallots
- 3 Eggs hard boiled and sliced in half
- Green onions garnish
- Peel shrimps, reserving the shells to use later.
- Fill a large pot or dutch oven 1/3 full of water and bring to boil over medium high heat. Add pork ribs and pork belly. Continue to boil for 5 minutes. Remove pork ribs and pork belly with a pair of thongs. Discard water.
- Fill the pot again with 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil and return pork ribs and pork belly to the pot. Lower heat and allow to simmer.
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil into the same skillet. Add shrimp shells and fry until shells turn pink, about 3 minutes.
- Place fried shrimp shells and 2 tablespoons of cooked chili paste (keep the remaining as condiment) into the simmering pork belly and ribs pot. Add garlic, star anise, cloves and peppercorns. Allow to simmer for 90 minutes.
- After 30 minutes of cooking, remove pork belly. When cool enough to handle, slice thinly. In a skillet fry pork belly on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes, until crispy. Set aside.
- When soup is done, remove pork ribs and set aside. Strain broth and discard shrimp shells. Remove meat from pork ribs and discard bones.
- Add fish sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce and prawns to the soup and cook for about 3 minutes until they turn pink. Remove and set aside.
- Place a portion of cooked rice noodles, egg noodles, beansprouts, and spinach in a bowl. Pour soup broth over noodles and vegetables. Top with prawns, crispy pork belly, pork rib and reserved chili onion condiment.
- Garnish with sliced hard boiled egg, chopped green onions and fried shallots.
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