Covid-19 stay-home recipe: Yakisoba with a local twist

At the risk of purists hurling eggs at me, I am sharing this recipe for Hokkien mee using chukamen, a type of Japanese noodles.

This dish is essentially yakisoba cooked in the style of fried Hokkien mee. Yakisoba is Japanese for fried noodles and it uses Chinese-style, wheat-flour noodles called chukamen.

Why use chukamen instead of the usual yellow thick round egg noodles? The texture of chukamen is springy and I find that I can pre-cook the noodles in prawn stock for a longer time to really soak up the flavour without them turning limp.

Expect to pay more for chukamen since it is an imported product.

Interestingly, yakisoba is not part of traditional Japanese cuisine.

In the book The Untold History Of Ramen: How Political Crisis In Japan Spawned A Global Food Craze, the author George Solt tells of how the dish came into being after the United States introduced American wheat to the Japanese diet post-World War II. Yakisoba became a delicacy sold on the black market at exorbitant prices.

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HOKKIEN MEE-STYLE YAKISOBA

INGREDIENTS

15 prawns (340g), save the prawn heads and shell for boiling the prawn stock

1 Tbs cornflour

¼ tsp sugar

700ml water

15g ginger, bruised

5 garlic cloves, skins on, bruised

4 Tbs shallot oil

5 garlic cloves, chopped

390g chukamen

2 Tbs fish sauce

3 eggs, beaten

460g squid

100g garlic chives, cut into 5cm lengths

1 Tbs light soya sauce

Small pinch of sugar

Dash of ground white pepper

30g fried shallots

METHOD

1. Marinate the prawns in cornflour and sugar and chill for 30 minutes. Rinse with water.

2. Bring the water to a boil in a pot.

3. Add prawn shells, ginger and whole garlic cloves. Boil over medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes. Strain, discard boiling ingredients and reserve the prawn stock.

4. In a deep frying pan, heat 1 Tbs of shallot oil and fry half a teaspoon of chopped garlic for 30 seconds before adding the noodles.

5. Add 400ml or enough prawn stock to cover the noodles mid-way and cook until the cooking liquid reduces. Season with 1 Tbs of fish sauce. Remove the noodles from pan and set aside.

6. Rinse the pan. Heat 3 Tbs of oil and fry remaining garlic until fragrant. Add the eggs.

7. Add the noodles. Stir-fry.

8. Add the prawn and squid.

9. Add the garlic chives.

10. Add the remaining fish sauce, light soya sauce, sugar and ground white pepper.

11. Serve hot and garnish with fried shallots.

Serves four

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