Minced pork noodles
(My version of Loh Si Fun)
This dish is very much a feature of the street food culture in Malaysia and variations of it can be found almost everywhere. As a child we often ate at a place which was a massive car park in the day, but a flourish of activity would commence around 6pm where the whole area would be transformed into a large food court.
A host of stalls would appear offering the most amazing variety of street food that you could ever imagine proving that the current ‘pop up restaurant’ concept was present even back then minus the fancy title. The Loh Si Fun stall was a firm favourite of mine and I still recall the young lady and her mother who used to run it. I never knew her name but she always wore such lovely clothes, make up and jewellery, taking extreme pride not only in her appearance but in the food she produced. My family and I aptly named her ‘Miss Car Park’ and I’m certain that wherever she is today she would still ooze the same glamour.
Without doubt the original recipe itself holds a few ingredients that would be a closely guarded family secret, however I used my taste buds and managed to recreate it as close to the real thing as possible. What’s even a bigger bonus is my version takes hardly any time at all and can be rustled up even after a hard day at work when the kids are screaming out in hunger as you scratch your head wondering what to do! Noodles tend to go down a storm with little ones and this dish is a staple in my kitchen even now that my children are grown up.
‘Miss Car Park’ used a short stubby rice noodle which is available here in Oriental supermarkets but to make life easier I’ve opted for ready made Udon noodles which are identical in texture but longer in length and easily obtainable in any high street supermarket (see below).
They’re precooked and only require minutes in boiling water which saves time, effort, and more importantly doesn’t compromise on taste. If you’re desperate and haven’t got Udon to hand, then any other noodles in your store cupboard can be substituted.
Minced pork is what the original recipe dictates but again whatever that’s available in your fridge will do. I’ve had to resort to chicken, prawns and minced turkey myself on the odd occasion and it still went down a storm with my ‘not so little’ ones. For the vegetarians tofu or quorn mince is a good alternative. What really cannot be compromised on is the dark soy sauce and when I say dark I mean dark. The brand that you want is Lee Kum Kee (see image) which is sold in Tesco or if you’re feeling adventurous, anything from a Chinese supermarket.
Other brands like Sharwoods or Red Dragon is extremely salty and will not give that dark appearance to the end result so don’t even bother! This dark soy is present in many Malaysian dishes and having it as a store cupboard staple will be incredibly useful for future recipes.
Sesame oil is another vital addition and no other oil should be used as the intense nutty roasted aroma is difficult to replicate and won’t possess that authentic flavour. Again an item that is now widely available in all supermarkets and I purchase mine from Tesco! As long as you have these two ingredients you’re good to go so I’ll stop blabbering now and get on with the actual recipe!
Recipe makes 4 portions
500g minced pork
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup water
4 packets of individual udon sachets (They come in packs of two or 4)
2 large cloves of garlic (minced or chopped finely)
5 tablespoons dark soy sauce
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons sesame oil
3 springs of spring onions (sliced finely)
2 heads of Pak Choy (optional)
1 sliced red chili (optional)
Any type of sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon white pepper
In a saucepan, heat up the vegetable oil and add the garlic. Cook until golden brown and fragrant then add the minced pork and salt. Keep a very close eye on the garlic as it tends to burn in the blink of an eye and will make the whole dish rancit. I advise that you keep the flame on medium to prevent this from happening.
Toss the pork around in the oil and garlic and then add the water and reduce the flame to low. Leave to simmer until the pork is cooked. This should take about 20 mins. Check at intervals and stir accordingly. If the pork is drying out, add a dash of water but don’t over commit as you don’t want the pork to be swimming in water.
Whilst the pork is cooking, chop the spring onions and chili and cut the Pak Choy into large bite size pieces. Set aside.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil.
Once the pork is done, leave it aside.
Once the water is boiling, add the udon and pak choy. Follow the instructions on the packet but the udon should be ready in minutes and the pak choy will be ready by then too.
Drain the udon and Pak Choy in a colander ready for assembly.
In a very large bowl, add the udon, the pork, soy sauce, white pepper, and sesame oil. Mix it all together until all the noodles are coated in the soy and have a dark appearance. Divide it into 4 bowls and garnish each one with the spring onions and chopped red chili (optional).
Serve with the chili sauce on the side. Easy peasy!
If using prawns or tofu then stir fry the in the garlic and vegetable oil before adding to the noodles. Similarly if you’re opting for chicken then slice the chicken and cook in the same way. Minced turkey can be cooked the same way as the minced pork.
For vegetarian options, a medley of mushrooms with the tofu works well. Deep fried tofu squares which have a lovely texture can be found in Chinese Supermarkets which freezes incredibly well and can be added to other dishes.
I really hope you give this a go and get back to me with pictures and comments.
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