A Noodle Dish That Chinese Sarawakian Would Not Be Able To Let Go… Sarawak Kolo Mee

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IMG_8476Kolo Mee prepared using Hong Kong Mee

INTRODUCTION

I remembered I started my long post on the famous Sarawak Laksa with these few words….

Like any other Sarawakians, I am proud of our own version of laksa, Sarawak Laksa. It will not do Sarawak Laksa any justice if I did not do  a detail post on Sarawak Laksa”

The same applies to Kolo Mee, the second most common noodle dish in Sarawak, Malaysia, particularly in its capital city Kuching. As a Sarawakian, it will be unfair to my state of origin if I did not blog about Kolo Mee (or Sarawak Dry Noodles used interchangeably). Kolo Mee, a type of Sarawak dry noodles is deep rooted in the hearts of Chinese especially in the city of Kuching. Sarawakians who are overseas have always  craved for this special noodle and Sarawakian in Sarawak can have this noodle dish as breakfast, lunch, dinner or even supper. There will be at least one store selling Kolo Mee in  any eating outlets. The popularity is just like fishball noodles in Singapore context.

IMG_8484  Kolo Mee Prepared Using You Mian

Though popular and unique in its presentation, however, I am reluctant to say that the noodles originated from the State of Sarawak.  Singaporean foodies who visited Kuching and have the noodles said that it resembles the type of noodles called 车仔面 or Cart noodles which was common in the 1960’s. Some of the images that I have sourced from internet websites do have some resemblances to Sarawak Kolo Mee particularly websites from the area of Xiamen and Chaozhou, People’s Republic of China. In Singapore, there is a type of wanton noodle called Kluang wanton noodles, it is rather similar in taste and noodles textures. The same for the Feifei wanton noodles in Joo Chiat Road, Singapore, the taste are closed but not exactly the same.

IMG_8478Kolo Mee prepared using Hong Kong Mee

The popularity have started to expand to places besides Kuching. In Singapore, there is a rather big restaurant chain called Jiaxiang Sarawak Kolo Mee and some hawker centres selling it. In fact, Singapore’s Channel 8 do have a TV show recently on the SARAWAK KOLO MEE. I understand there are also stores in Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru, Malaysia that sell the noodles.

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Besides, in bigger cities where there are a lot of Sarawakian’s residing such as Melbourne, Perth, Toronto, the noodles were being sold in local Sarawakian restaurants. 

IMG_8490 Kolo Mee Prepared Using You Mian

If you stay in Kuching, Sarawak, it is rather unlikely that you will be preparing this noodle dish yourself since it can be easily bought  in any eating outlets. Prices are generally reasonable and not many foodies will want trouble themselves to prepare such noodles. However, in overseas, foodies may have to wait  for the relatives to “pack” them the noodles when they visit them from Kuching or they will have to eat at the restaurant at a rather high price. Is it not good if overseas Sarawakians are able to prepare the noodles themselves ?

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The challenge of preparing this noodle dish is the type of noodles used. The noodles used in Kuching is a type of springy egg noodles without the use of any alkaline water (碱水)。For size and texture, it resembles the type of noodles used in the preparation of wanton noodles in West Malaysia or Singapore. But the taste and colour are different. The colour is lighter and the taste is without the strong flavour of alkaline water. Being in Singapore, I do not have the noodles like those in Sarawak. I have resorted to the use of two types of noodles commonly sold in the Singaporean supermarkets. One is called “Hong Kong Noodles” with eggs and alkali water usually used for the preparation of wanton noodles  and another noodle is called the “You Mian” without eggs and alkali water.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

All quantities are for reference only as it is very depends on individual likings

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  • 1 packet of Hong Kong Noodles (or You Mian)

  • Some lard (optional)

  • 3-4 shallots, cut in small pieces

  • Some minced pork

  • Some choy shym or other leafy green vegetables

Not in pictures above

  • Some spring onions, cut in small pieces 

  • Some white vinegars or black vinegars

  • Some seasonings of your choice (mushroom concentrate or chicken stock or MSG)

  • Some sugars

  • Some light soya sauces

  • Some dark soya sauces

  • Salt to taste

  • Some cooking oils

  • Some sesame oils

Lard is traditionally used in these cuisines and recently I was shocked to know that most of the stalls in Kuching still uses lard in the preparation of this noodle dish. Depending on individual, you can just use cooking oil or olive oil instead.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparing the fried shallots and shallots oil

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  • In a frying pan, have 1 cup of cooking oil, heat the oil under medium heat. Add in the chopped shallots and deep fried until the shallots are brownish in colour. Drain and set aside. The shallots shall be crispy when cold. Keep in an airtight container if desired.

  • Use the same oil, add in the chopped spring onions. Stir fried the spring onions until brownish and let it soaked in the oil. When cooled, transfer the shallot oil to a bowl and set aside for later use.


Preparing the minced meats and blanching of vegetables

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  • For 200 grams of minced meat, marinate the mince meats with 1 teaspoon of light soya sauce, 1 teaspoon of dark soya sauce, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, pinches of white pepper and pinches of salt. Stir well and let it marinate for about 10-20 minutes.

  • In a pot of boiling hot water, put the marinated minced meat in sieve, put the sieve in the boiling hot water and blanched the minced meat for 2 minutes. Take out the blanched minced meat, put in a bowl, add one scope of dark soya soya sauce, one tablespoon of shallot oil, and additional white pepper. Set aside for later use. Keep the meat blanching water for preparing of some vegetable soup to go with the noodles.

  • Use the same hot water to blanched the vegetable for 1-2 minutes, drained and set aside for latter use.

  • For minced meat, if you do not want to use blanching method, another alternative is to stir fry the minced meat with 1-2 tablespoons of shallot oils for about 5 minutes.

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Preparing of noodles

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  • In a hot pot of boiling water, put in one serving of noodles and cook the noodles by following the instructions as in the package, In this illustration, the package required the noodles to be blanched in hot boiling water for 45 seconds only. Transfer the hot noodles to another pot of cold water for 10 seconds.  Drain and put in the serving bowl with all the seasonings (PLEASE REFER BELOW).


Assembling the noodles

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To summarize, the following should be ready before assembling the noodle dish. Fried shallot, white vinegar, black vinegar (optional), light soya sauce, minced meat, Chinese barbecue pork, blanched choy sum (in this picture, I used xiaobaicai), shallot oils and lards.

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  • In a serving bowl, put 2 tablespoons of shallot oils, 1 teaspoon of white vinegar, 1 teaspoon of lard (optional), 1 teaspoon of light soya sauce, pinches of salt, pinches of sugar or seasonings of your choice (such as mushroom concentrate or if you prefer MSG). Mix well and add the blanched noodles (immediately after you blanched and dipped in cold water). Use 2 pairs of chop sticks or any other kitchen utensils to mix the seasonings, shallot oils and noodles as evenly as possible. Put some blanched vegetables, 1 tablespoon of minced meat and some Chinese barbecue pork on top of the noodles. Let it rest for 2-3 minutes before serving.

  • In a small soup bowl, transfer some minced meat broth and put in some blanched vegetables.

  • Best served with hot with soup (optional) and red cut chilli dipped in white vinegar.

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CONCLUSION

This is a rather long post. The taste of this noodles dish is satisfactory as compared to those sell in Kuching Sarawak. The most obvious difference is the noodles used. As I can’t get the authentic noodles from Sarawak, I will have to substitute with the next best alternative so as to satisfy my palate. I will continue to search for better alternatives in Singapore and I may want to “thick skinned” enough to ask the store owners selling Kolo mee in Singapore where is the source of supply of their noodles? Imported… I seriously doubt? Making at home….?

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I was surprised to see my kids having 2 big plates of noodles .. Possibly they are also craving for the noodles. Of course they will not be able to criticize whether or not the noodles that I prepared is authentic or not.

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This is a localized and regional dish.. However, I strongly encourage my readers from Singapore, West Malaysia or other countries to try it. None of my circles of friends who visited Kuching have ever reject the offer as the taste is quite an international taste..To conclude: If you like wanton noodles anywhere in the world, YOU WILL DEFINTELY LIKE IT! DO GIVE IT A TRY! It is not difficult to prepare at all!!

Hope you like the post today and cheers. Have a nice day. 


  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 8 June 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

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What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 25-5-2013

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On 25-May 2013

Usually, for Saturday and Sunday, if we dine at home, it will be something simpler as both my wife and me are rather lazy to cook. So today, we have noodles, noodles, noodles. We have 3 types of noodles including the kolo mee directly “imported” from Kuching.

1. Fried Rice Vermicelli with Green Vegetables and Pork Slice (菜心肉片炒米粉)

This is the type of fried rice vermicelli that my late mother used to prepare for us. I have insisted my wife to cook in this manner with only 3-4 ingredients (rice vermicelli, pork belly slices, chye Shim and shrimps). Besides at home, I have never eaten fried vermicelli with these simple combinations be it the one cooked by my mother in law or in parties or outside hawker stores. Usually, most fried rice vermicelli will have mushrooms, red carrots, bean sprouts, fish cakes, eggs and etc. But I am very insistent  to use only these 4 ingredients and it should not be substituted. Changes in any of the ingredients will not give the same flavor.  Today, the dish was prepared by my wife for my kids,PLEASE TRY THIS COMMONER’S RICE VERMICELLI!

2. Fried Rice Vermicelli with Laksa Sarawak Paste (砂朥越辣沙酱炒米粉)

As my wife cooked quite a lot of fried rice vermicelli above, I have decided to fry the above rice vermicelli with my own home made Sarawak Laksa Paste. You can learn more about home made Sarawak Laksa Paste here. Firstly, I slightly fried my laksa paste, when it started to emit the aroma, eggs were added followed by peanut powder and condiments. Before I serve, I add in shredded cucumbers and the taste was fantastic. Just imagine you are eating Indian or Malay fried noodles. PLEASE TRY THIS NEWLY CREATED RICE VERMICELLI FRIED WITH SARAWAK LAKSA PASTE and you wouldn’t regret it.

 

3. Sarawak Kolo Mee (Dry Noodles) (砂朥越干捞面)

This is another famous delicacies from Sarawak and shall I said, have attained at least the same status as Sarawak Laksa in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. It is unique and available in Sarawak only. There are visitors saying that this dish resemble the 车仔面 that were sold in Singapore in the 1960’s. You can read more about Kolo mee HERE, Kolo bee hoon HERE, and Sarawak Laksa HERE. Today’s Kolo Mee was brought to me by my mother in law who is visiting us from Kuching. She bought at least 8 packets of the noodles. This is a must try item in Kuching and I have never heard of any visitors ever complained about this dish be it Asians or Caucasians. PLEASE TRY THIS SARAWAK DELICACY WHEN YOU VISIT KUCHING, SARAWAK, MALAYSIA and without trying it, your trip to Kuching will not be considered as complete.

Food Preparation Series–Kolo Beehoon

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This is our breakfast today and is prepared by my wife and not me. Why I decided to write this is because I found that it is easy to prepare and delicious and is uncommon among my circles of friends.

Looking at the picture, you may think that it is some sort of fried beehoon, in fact, it is not. It is quite healthy as it is using blanched ingredients (including beehoon) and no frying is needed. My wife prepared this at around 5:45 am for the eldest daughter for breakfast before she board the school bus at 6:30 am.

WHY THIS NAME?

Beehoon is a type of dried rice noodles which is very common among the Chinese Communities in Singapore and Malaysia. Kolo in Chinese is called “干捞”, a process of cooking whereby you blanched all your ingredients and mixed it together to become a dish.

In Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, we do have our famous delicacies Kolo-mee and the Sarawakians are having Kolo-mee for all meals from breakfasts to lunches to dinners and suppers. Usually, stalls that sold kolomee do have some variations for the noodles such as kolo beehoon, kolo kway tiao etc.… However, it was seldom prepared at home, at least, not at my parent’s home. Only after my two kids was born that my wife told us that she knows how to prepare this dish and claimed that it is very simple. Since then, occasionally, she prepared this when we are running out of breakfast ideas.

WHAT IS REQUIRED

Must Haves
Noodles Any type of noodles, be rice or wheat noodles (Kway tiao, Bee Hoon, Coarse Bee Hoon, Egg Noodles) etc. These noodles are very common in markets where there are huge Chinese populations. It is as popular as pasta in Western countries
Garlic and onion flavored vegetable oil We usually fried some garlic and onion in some oil and once turn golden brownish color, we will keep it in a bottle and let the fried garlic and onion submerged in the oil. We usually used it for dishes that we don’t wish to stir fry. Traditional way of preparation is using lard which is much tastier. However, this is considered as not healthy in the present context.
Condiments Salt, light soya sauce and some flavor enhances that you used at home like mushroom concentrate etc. In Kuching, they have variations like adding tomato ketchup, lard from Char Siew (叉烧油), black soya sauce, white vinegar and is served with freshly cut red chili submerged in vinegar.
Optional
Fresh leafy vegetables We usually add vegetables like Chye Shim, Bok Choi etc. Healthy to include this and have to role of negating the oiliness after taste if the noodle is too oily.
Spring onions To enhance taste and garnishing
Carrots For taste and garnishing
Fish cakes /Crab sticks Both fish cake and crab stick were used because we have it readily in the fridge and the kids loved it.
Minced meats A bit of minced meat for meaty flavor and can be substituted with Char Siew.
Note: if you are vegetarian, just opt out of all meaty items. As for garlic oil, fried chop mushrooms in the oil instead. You can add taupok, vegetarian char siew etc..

STEPS OF PREPARATION

Have a pot of hot water, blanched the minced meat, fish cake, crab stick, carrot and leafy vegetable (in this order) and set aside. Note: you can prepare this in advance and keep it in the fridge and heat it up when you want to use it)

Use the same pot of water to blanch the beehoon (water conservation! By the way, it make no sense as all you ingredients will be mixed together and boil water for individual ingredients will only increase your water and gas bills).

In a big bowl, put some garlic oil but not too much if you are health conscious. However,  I opt to believe that some oils are needed to smooth out the final texture of the mixed beehoon. Is it not the same principle applies to having olive oils when you prepare your salad greens?

Put in the blanched minced meat and condiments such as salt, light soya sauce, mushroom concentrate, pepper, tomato ketchup etc. and stir until well mixed. You can add a bit of water to dissolve the salt and my wife likes to put a bit of Chinese black vinegar which is optional.

Pour your blanched beehoon into the above and mixed it well. Add in all other remaining blanched ingredients, garnished with spring onion and the Kolo beehoon is ready.

Cheap and tasty. Why not prepared it for tomorrow breakfast? Enjoy reading.

 

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Things I Just Discovered In Singapore – Sarawak Laksa and Kolo Mee

Just discovered a new food outlet that sells the famous Sarawak Laksa and kolo mee in Singapore. It was tipped off from my Singaporean neighbor that loves these two delicacies after we introduced to them.

The new outlet that we visited on Saturday morning is located at Blk 25, New Upper Changi Road, Singapore. Look out for this stall:

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I am pleased with the quality of the noodles, it’s serving size and price! They have another variant by adding soya sauce to the noodle which is also very delicious (note: I personally think that this variant were created because of the influences of West Malaysia or Singaporean’s "kanloumin“(干捞面)and “wanton noodle”(云吞面).  However, the laksa gravy should be “thicker” (less watery) as it is quite tasteless.

However, I am reluctant to mark down this item as it is a matter of personal preference…

My verdict is: SHOULD TRY and RETRY and RETRY.better than the much publicized and pricey XXX Sarawak Kuching Kolo Mee Restaurant in posh shopping malls.

Sarawakian, if you happen to read this, I believe you will come and try.

Local Singaporean, if you like to pay about S$ 10 for one bowl of Kolo Mee, you will definitely be delighted to have a meal here and “tabao” another packet for your loved ones at home with the same price (but please wear shorts as it is not that cold as in shopping malls, lol).

For overseas visitors not in Singapore, please visit Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia for a bowl of authentic Sarawak Kolo Mee!!

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Lastly, why this appeared in my blog because kolo mee and laksa are two of the hawker stall items that Sarawakians residing in Singapore have missed very much. In Sarawak, these two delicacies are Sarawakian’s breakfasts, lunches, tea time, dinner and supper top choices….and in Singapore, I personally only know that beside the pricey restaurant and this stall, there is another stall in Bedok Central. That explained the rationale behind this post and if reader knew of other outlets in Singapore, please share with me and our readers. Happy reading and cheers.