Prawn Noodles Soup

Prawn Noodles (Soup)

There are few noodle soups in life that are worth their weight in gold, in the case of prawn noodles, the ‘gold’ being the weight of the amount of prawn heads and shells used to concoct its flavoursome, robust seafood stock. Prawn Noodles Soup, also called ‘Hae Mee’(Hokkien dialect) or ‘Har Mee’(Cantonese/popularly known in Malaysia), is one noodle dish that transports me right back to my childhood.

Standing in the unbearable smoky heat of a hawker centre in Singapore where even the humidity is unable to dampen my spirits, I would wait and watch hungrily at the prawn noodle seller ladling a steaming stream of reddish-orangey prawn stock over my bowl of yellow egg noodles. It always looks as good as I anticipated, before I even take my first eager slurp with my porcelain soup spoon.

prawn noodle soup
prawn noodle soup

Is it just me or is there anyone who misses the good old days of washable rather than styrofoam or plastic takeaway cutlery and bowls? Back to memories…a meal of prawn noodles is always a pleasurable experience from start to finish. The aroma of the hot, steaming prawn stock continues wafting through to my nostrils as I attack those few and scarce peeled prawns swimming with fish cake, bean sprouts and water spinach (kang kong vegetables) until I’ve slurped up every last spoonful of the sweet prawn soup and every strand of egg noodle.

Of course this had to be on It’s been a popular lunch special in Barang and still one of those classic favourites in my repertoire of best-loved Singapore hawker fare that I whip up often for my family and it continues to delight without fail. In winter in Australia, it is one of my best-loved comfort meals. A bonus tip: Make extra stock for the soup so that you can make Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodles or Fried ‘Hokkien Mee’ as it is called in the hawker stalls of Singapore. Click the link above for my special recipe using the same stock recipe below for stir-frying the Hokkien Mee.

Start with saving and freezing all the prawn heads and shells of raw prawns the next time you’re trying to make a prawn dish that doesn’t require those parts such as prawn mince or a dish like prawn curry or a stir-fry. The more the merrier and the sweeter your prawn noodle stock will be. If you’re not a pork lover, chicken bones or chicken breast meat can also be used as a substitute for pork ribs to add flavour.

Prawn Noodles (Soup), Xia Mian Tang (虾面汤), ‘Har Meen’ (Cantonese)

Prawn heads and shells from about 500g large tiger prawns
1 kg pork ribs
500g chicken breast or lean pork
(blanch either chicken or pork in boiling water to remove scum. Boil with 4 ltr of water to make stock.  Shred meat finely and set aside). 
1 bulb of garlic, left whole
3.5 litres of water
2 TB brown sugar or 3 small pieces of rock sugar
prawn stock (stir fry minced garlic with 500g prawn heads) and add to main stock later
500g whole tiger prawns (heads and shells removed for stock) sliced length-wise and deveined
100g bean sprouts, blanched
250g sliced fish cake, blanched
500g yellow egg noodles
500g rice vermicelli (soaked in water till soft — before blanching)
Bean sprouts/kang kong vegetables(water spinach) (optional)
salt to taste
1 tsp ground white pepper
drizzle of sesame oil
4-5 tbs fish sauce to taste
1 tbs shao xing wine
fried shallots, for added flavour (these are available at asian grocers)
chilli powder/cut chillies, to serve
coriander and spring onions (finely chopped) to serve

Directions For Stock:
1.Add about 3.5 litres of water in a large saucepan and bring it to a boil.
2.Toss in the pork ribs and all the prawn heads and shells only, but reserve the prawns and do not cook them just yet.
3.Simmer on low heat for at least 45 min to an hour.
4. Sieve the stock, using tongs to reserve the cooked pork ribs. Discard the prawn heads and shells.
5. Add the rock sugar/brown sugar, salt, fish stock, pepper to taste.

Directions For Assembling Prawn Noodle Soup:
Prepare another saucepan with boiling water for blanching ingredients.
Blanch yellow egg noodles and vermicelli in boiling water.
Blanch bean sprouts and kang kong.
Bring to boil the first stock saucepan again, then cook prawns in the prawn soup stock. Remove them and set aside.
Apportion the desired amount of yellow egg noodles and vermicelli in a large bowl, top with cooked prawns, bean sprouts, kong kong, pork ribs, and using a ladle—carefully add boiling hot prawn stock onto ingredients.
6. Garnish and serve with fried shallots, coriander and spring onions.

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