As I am typing out this post, I am also chatting with my cousin who is currently living in Canada. I was asking her for the English name of a certain Asian ingredient and I mentioned that I was writing about a local dish and she seemed really surprised at that.
Cousin: Haahaaa so you are cooking Asian dishes now?
Me: What do you mean by now?
So apparently she thinks that I mostly cook western dishes only. The chat conversation with her made me realize that a lot of people actually share her opinion too. I get people associating me with Nigella and no I definitely don’t look like her. (I wish!) It is just that I am more known for cooking Pastas, casseroles, etc. Truth is, I cook more Asian dishes compared to the western ones. There are days where you just have to say no to pasta and cheese; no wait. That line isn’t convincing enough. Saying no to pasta and cheese? Not in this life. Let me just rephrase it. There are days where you have to say no to burgers and hot-dogs and all you want is a bowl of curry to go along with your naan and of course there are the days where you need your tom yam, your assam pedas and everything else. When it comes to food, I go east, west, north, south and everywhere else in between. However when it comes to entertaining, I prefer to go western.
1. I watched a lot of Food network and TLC.
2. My cousins subscribed me to Food Network magazine every year, on my birthday.
3. I subscribed to Donna Hay magazine.
4. I have a huge collection of western books.
5. I find cooking western food more simple, yet intriguing.
6. Asian food is in the blood thus it is something that I can prepare well. This makes it less adventurous.
7. When guests come over, I get more requests for western food, compared to Asian.
8. Being able to cook western food actually saves you money. A plate of noodles would cost about $5 and Pasta would cost at least $10. Now that explains number 7 doesn’t it?
The reason that I do not blog much about Asian dishes is that, most Asian dishes require a substantial amount of ingredients and these ingredients might not be easily available for people who are living outside of Asia. I also cringe at the thought of writing the long list of ingredients and method for an Asian dish. Lol. Nevertheless, Asian cuisines are gaining a lot of popularity everywhere and there is always an Asian market in every corner of the world, so it is very much possible for someone in America to cook up a dish that originated from China. Furthermore, certain ingredients are interchangeable and some can totally be omitted.
As much as I love pastas, I enjoy eating noodles too. Rice and noodles are two very popular staples among Asians. It is believed that noodles were first invented in China. Noodles are no longer “an Asian thing” as it is loved all across the world. There are so many types of noodles but one striking similarity would be the length of the noodles. Most noodles are made long and this actually has it’s own significance. Noodles are often believed to be a symbol of longevity especially among the inventors. (Read: The Chinese)
A lot of people would say that noodles and pasta are similar. Yes there are similarities but I personally feel that they are not inter-changeable all the time. Asian noodles are mostly made with ingredients like rice, wheat flour and mung where else pasta are mostly made with durum wheat. All of these differences in texture and flavor mean you can’t substitute an Italian pasta for an Asian noodle every time. There are exceptions obviously.
I had shared a recipe of Mi Siam (Siamese rice noodles) sometime back, and today I would be sharing another popular noodle dish. Mi rebus or Mee rebus is a popular noodle dish in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. It is made up of fresh yellow egg noodles with a thick and slightly sweet curry gravy. The gravy uses very basic Asian ingredients like salted soybeans, dried/fresh shrimps, peanuts and curry powder. Sweet potato puree is used to thicken the gravy. The dish is garnished with slices of hard-boiled egg, calamansi limes, spring onions, green chillies and fried tofu. Some recipes would use beef to make the gravy even more delicious. In Indonesia, Mi rebus is also known as Mee Jawa (Javanese noodles)
This Mee Rebus – Noodles in Sweet Potato Gravy is delicious. Though the preparation for this is slightly more laborious but it is really worth every single effort put in. For those of you who are living in the other half of the world, feel free to omit a certain ingredient if you are not able to find it. Do check out the Asian isle of your supermarket though. You might be surprised with what you can actually find over there!
- 1.5 kg of fresh yellow egg noodles, blanched
- 200 g bean sprouts, blanched
- 4 tbsp vegetable Oil
- 600g beef - sliced (see notes)
- 400g fresh shrimps/prawns - remove shells and deveined
- 500g sweet potatoes, boiled until soft and puree.
- ½ cup peanuts - roasted and pound/blend till fine
- 2 tbsp meat curry powder
- 1 lemon grass - bruised
- 2L Water
- 1-2 tbsp palm sugar/brown sugar (only required if the sweet potatoes isn't sweet)
- 10 Shallots or 2 large onion
- 1 inch fresh Ginger
- 1 inch Galangal
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp dried baby shrimps (omit if not available, see notes)
- 2 tbsp fermented Soy Bean Paste (Tahuco)
- 2 firm bean curd (tofu) – cut into 1cm cubes and fry
- 4 hard-boiled Eggs - halved
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- ¼ cup spring chopped onion/scallions
- ½ cup crisp-fried shallots
- 10 calamansi lime - halved
- 4 green chilies, sliced thinly
- In a blender, place ingredients to be blended with ½ cup of water and blend into a fine paste.
- Heat vegetable oil in a pot and fry the blended ingredients and lemon grass for about 5 minutes.
- Add the curry powder and cook for a further 10 minutes or until fragrant.
- Add in beef, water and season with salt. Cook till the beef is tender.
- Once beef is tender, add shrimps/prawns and cook for a further few minutes.
- Stir in the mashed sweet potatoes till it dissolves into the gravy.
- If the gravy is too thick at this point, do add some water to thin it down.
- Finally add in peanuts and season with more salt and sugar if required.
- Place some noodles and beansprouts in a bowl.
- Pour some gravy over the beansprouts and yellow egg noodles.
- Sprinkle with green chilli, firm bean curd slices, fried shallots, spring onions and parsley.
- Top with half an egg and lime.
- This is best served hot/warm.
If you do not consume beef, you can use more prawns or shrimps instead.