04/01/2014

Mee Suah Soup | 面线汤


Perhaps hungover from the gratuitous feast from Christmas and New Year's Eve, but most certainly due to a terrible bout of bruxism, I found myself losing appetite for food, especially anything that is oily, salty or hard.  Instead, I craved for a warm bowl of broth and some noodle to warm my stomach. 

When noodle comes to my mind, I think about my mum's Mee Suah, or flour vermicelli soup. For those who aren't familiar, Mee Suah is Hokkien (a Chinese dialect) for flour vermicelli. Other names are Mian Xian 面线 or Meen Seen in Cantonese. The main ingredients in this noodle are what flour, salt and water. It is often arranged in small bundles and can be found in Asian groceries. This is a noodle that can be cooked in 2 minutes, yet without the preservatives of instant noodle - great for a cold winter night or late night emergencies. 

Chinese are a poetry lot and there is usually a special meaning attribute to food. Unlike Italian pasta, long strands of noodles form a bundle of mee suah, and they not break when you put them to boil. It is a symbol of longevity and people of Hokkien descent consume the noodle as a birthday dish. 


Consisting of only a few simple ingredients, this dish conjures up so many lovely memories: Every year, my mum will prepare this dish for the birthday boy or girl, served with a hard-boiled egg and fried pig liver. Together as a family, we would gulped down the bowl of hot broth and noodle, because the starch in the noodle always caused the soup to go coagulate and ruin the taste. We would all end up with sweat all over our forehead, but satisfied and contented. 

Preparation of this dish is very simple and you can make it as simple or as complicated(?) as you like:

1. Soak the Shitake mushrooms in a bowl of boiling water for 30 minutes, or until it goes soft.
2. Bring a large bowl of water to boil.
3. Dunk the pre-packaged broth,  Shitake mushrooms and meat in the pot of water. Let the ingredients simmer for ten minutes.
4. Peel the skin of the hard-boiled egg.
5. Remove the pre-packaged broth.
6. Put the bundle of flour vermicelli in the pot, stirring as it cooks to loosen the strands.
7. When the noodle strands are loose and slightly inflated, scoop the noodle into a bowl. 
8. Pour the broth over the noodle.
9. Garnish with pepper if desire and enjoy your piping bowl of flour vermicelli!

Notes:
- Flour vermicelli contains salt, so pre-packaged broth is optional and may be substituted with just a plain bowl of water. Just add salt to taste at Step 6. 
- If broth turns starchy at Step 6, add half a bowl of water and continue stirring. 

I hope you will enjoy this simple dish as I did. 


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