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Hokkein Noodles - fast tasty and cheap.

Looking for something quick, tasty, cheap and 'cookable' in ten minutes?
It can be done. This recipe is more like a formula. Feel free to vary it depending on the ingredients you have available. Included are three variations to show how the different ingredients are interchangeable. Hokkein noodles are one of the cheaper varieties of Asian pasta in your supermarket, as you can see here at $2.49 on the left

Asian noodle selection on suparmarket shelf

Hokkein noodles on the supernarket shelf. They are not rice noodles (and they're cheaper!).

Hokkein noodles originated in the Fujian Province in South East China. They are made from wheat flour, not rice flour based like other Chinese noodles. Their long length is supposed to symbolise a long life. Fujian is a little different from the other Chinese provinces. Although it is on the mainland, Fujian is separated by mountains and was left behind during much of the Chinese Revolution. Until the 1950s it was only accessible by sea, so it has a slightly different culture to much of China.

Hokkein Noodles come in three forms - dried, soft and egg flavoured.

  • The dried type will keep in an air tight container for up to 8 months. To reconstitute them, to avoid them sticking together, rinse the noodles in cold water to wash off any excess starch then boil in plenty of salted water for 4 minutes or until tender.

  • The soft ones are ready to serve and come in a sealed pack. Once the seal is broken they will keep for three days in the fridge. To prevent them sticking in the pack, they are usually coated in oil. It's best to rinse some of this off just prior to adding to the dish.

  • The egg flavoured variety contains extra preservatives and flavouring so give them a miss.

Because they are soft and ready to serve you add them at the very end of the cooking process. Unlike other Chinese noodles, they are flour based. When added to a dish they will draw up some of the moisture and have a thickening effect. For this reason we want a wet dish with lots of sauce before we add the noodles.

Ingredients - Hokkein Pork and Prawn Noodles

We are going to prepare a quintessential Chinese dish that is popular with Westerners. The art of this style of cuisine is to cook several different components fast and combine them at the end to make a meal that has several different but complimentary flavours, unlike Western cuisine which relies more on the flavours all combining. This is an excellent dish to demonstrate how to cook Asian cuisine because the green components are all highly sensitive to over cooking. The time between having tender Chinese cabbage or bean sprouts and soggy toilet paper is less than a minute. The total cooking time for the meal is only around 10 minutes, typical of Asian cooking. If you intend to vary the vegetables and there's no reason why not, keep this in mind and add the vegetables to the oil in the correct order so they all have the right cooking times. If not you'll be dining on veges with meat, noodles and used toilet paper or noodles with pork prawns sprouts and rocks!

  • 500 gm Hokkein noodles

  • 80 gm bean sprouts (about 2 large handfuls)

  • 100 gm Chinese cabbage, shredded

  • 4 to 6 medium prawns/shrimps, peeled and de-veined

  • 90 gm pork, Diced into cubes, about 1 cm or less.

  • 4 to 6 slices Asian BBQ pork (char siu)

  • 1 small brown onion, finely chopped

Marinade

  • 1/2 tsp light soy sauce

  • 1/2 tsp sugar

  • 1/2 tsp cornflour

  • Pepper, to taste

  • 1/2 tsp water

Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon light soy sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons of sugar

  • 200mls chicken stock (or 2 chicken stock cubes in 200mls water).

Prawn-pork Hokkein noodles

The finished dish - Prawn-pork Hokkien noodles

Method

  1. Blanch noodles in boiling water according to the instructions on the packet and rinse away any access oil. Drain well. If your noodles were soft packed, they are usually quite oily to stop them sticking together.

  2. Mix up the marinade, being careful not to get lumps of cornflour.

  3. Mix pork with marinade well and leave stand for at least 20 minutes.

  4. Heat oil in wok or frying pan over medium heat. Add pork and stir fry until cooked then set aside.

  5. Add 1/2 tsp water, the bean sprouts and cabbage and cook until soft, remove from the wok and set these aside. Do not leave these in the wok to over cook.

  6. Add more oil in wok. Toss in Hokkein noodles. Pour sauce over the noodles and stir to combine. Simmer for a few minutes until the noodles absorb the flavours of sauce. Add the prawns, and stir until these are cooked.

  7. Add your cooked pork, vegetables and the BBQ pork.

  8. Add soy sauce or salt to taste. Dish up and serve hot.

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Variations on a theme

Bowl of beef and noodles

Beef, spring onions and Hokkein noodles

  • Swap the prawns for chopped cashew nuts and the meat for chicken, drizzle a half a teaspoon of sesame oil over each serving
  • Replace the prawns with finely fried diced bacon and the BBQ pork with diced tofu.
  • Replace the meat with sliced mushrooms, zucchini, capsicum (bell peppers) and green beans for a vegetarian version
  • Replace all the pork with diced fish and the sauce is made with coconut milk, and lime zest.

Vegetarian Hokkein noodles

Vegetarian Hokkein noodles

The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Aim to use a wide variety of vegetables and you'll make for a more enticing dish.

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