There is no end to the creativity of the instant noodle enterprise worldwide and when I was an international student in Brisbane back in 1996, one of the most euphoric finds of an Asian overseas student had been the sighting of an instant noodle version of Mee Goreng sold as small packs of ‘mie goreng’ by Indomie at supermarkets here. Euphoria is when a student has one less food item to pack on every trip back for the new semester! I remember well those corrugated parcels of love packed by my parents bursting at their seams, their rounds of masking tape barely holding it together—chockful with a myriad of instant noodle flavours (one for each day of the week), condiment packets of everything I needed to stay alive away from mum’s cooking…from Bak Kut Teh spices to laksa paste, mee siam paste, dried shrimps, my mum’s special blend of sambal chillies and ikan billis(dried anchovies). It was always the ultimate relief to have gotten through the customs and quarantine checks at the airport without a glitch. This simply meant I met another sympathetic customs officer in uniform who understood a student’s antidote for homesickness was the reassurance of a truckload of Asian food supplies enough to feed the entire Australian army in Queensland.
While I’m thankful for instant mie goreng, I’m even more grateful to have learnt (since those student days) how to toss up a decent mamak version of Mee Goreng for my own family today. Goreng means ‘stir fried’ in Malay and essentially, Mee Goreng (an Indonesian originated noodle dish) is a spicy dish of stir-fried egg noodles with an eccentric blend of curry and tangy tomato flavours. Well-balanced with plain old boiled potato slices as if to offer a neutral gear and to add that perfect soft yet firm texture that goes ever so perfectly with curry–like in curried meat dishes or in a curry puff, Mee Goreng has an unusual character indeed, and it’s always satisfying no matter what time of day. Like any Mee Goreng you get from a good mamak store in Singapore or Malaysia, I always love my Mee Goreng with a sunny-side up egg!
3 TB vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
5 chicken thigh fillets (skin off and thinly sliced)
15-20 raw prawns, peeled and de-veined
300g cabbage, chopped coarsely
4 spring onions, trimmed and cut into 5cm lengths
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
8 fried tofu cakes, sliced into strips
1 large potato, parboiled then skinned and sliced
1kg fresh thick yellow egg (Hokkien) noodles
1 TB fish sauce
2 TB oyster sauce
3 TB kecap manis
2 TB tomato sauce
1/2 TB curry powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
Cucumber and tomato slices, to serve
Lime wedges, to serve
Sambal belachan chilli, to serve
Cut green chillies, to serve
Deep fried shallots, to serve
Heat a wok over very high heat and add the garlic oil. Add the chicken pieces and fry until just browned. Add the prawns, cabbage and spring onions and toss to coat in the oil. When the prawns change colour, add the tomatoes and tofu cake slices. Toss for about 2 minutes, or until the tomatoes and tofu soften.
Add a little more oil if necessary and add the noodles, soy sauce, oyster sauce, kecap manis, tomato sauce and curry powder, tossing in the wok for about 3 minutes until the noodles are softened. Generously sprinkle with deep fried shallots and toss into the wok of noodles to finish. Add the potatoes last, toss again till well mixed.
Using your spatula, shove everything to one side of the wok and crack the eggs one by one directly into the clear side. Mix the eggs well and when slightly firm, toss through the noodles.
In a separate pan, heat some oil and crack an egg into the centre. Spoon more hot oil onto the yolk of the sunny side up egg until it is cooked. Serve on the top of your mee goreng.
Serve with cucumber and tomato slices, a wedge of lemon or lime to squeeze over the top of the mee goreng and a spoon of sambal balachan on the side of the noodles.