After you've been away from home for a while, what's the first thing you absolutely need to sink your chops into the minute you walk through the door, as confirmation that "Ahhhhh.....I'm finally home?"
@Dan: "Anything noodlely and heart clogging- bak chor mee (kae liao), hokkien mee, char kway teow or laska. Well thats also kinda whats available from the nearest kopi tiam."
@Preeti: "Dal chawal + bhindi for me (rice + lentils and okra)."
@Nick: "Sausage and mash, gammon and eggs, pie and mash, montgomery cheddar cheese on toast with lea & perrins."
@Lucy: "Rozbif and cider, innocent smoothies, middle-eastern cuisine, crumble and custard. Ramen and Formosa Delights dumplings when going back to Singapore."
@Said Hwee Li: "Laksa, char kuay teow, deep fried dough fritters with soya bean milk."
@gnoserif: "THIS IS PRATAAAAAA...."
@cupcakesfortwo: "I can't eat anything after my travels, I must have peppermint tea before I can even think about food."
@michtan: "Bak Chor Mee! Peranankan Popiah! *salivate*"
@thegardenslug: "Prata or maggi mee goreng + Teh tarik :P"
How about you?
While I always come home to Singapore with a long to-eat list of hawker food, the first taste I want is a big steaming bowl of Myojo mee (noodles) pimped up with prawns, squid, cai xin, bean sprouts, and an egg beaten into the soup. With a side of pickled sliced green chili. Wolfed down right between chucking my bags in my room and taking a shower.
My Dad started this particular food habit of mine (among others). Growing up, anytime we were coming home from a family trip, he'd call ahead and ask our longtime family housekeeper Aunty Kiew Moi to whip a bowl of these noodles with egg, bean sprouts and haybee (dried shrimp). When asked what I wanted prepared, I'd just say, "That sounds good. One for me too."
Over the years we'd experiment with adding different ingredients. There were luncheon meat phases, cuttlefish ball phases, crabstick phases, exotic Japanese mushroom phases. There were pimp-my-ramen suggestions -- including cheese and strips of bak kwa (barbequed pork jerky) -- from friends. But the recipe finally stablised into the picture above: all fresh (besides the noodles); all fast to cook, good to eat (much like the ramen TV jingles of my youth). So much so that after I started traveling on my own, there was no need to even call ahead. Upon coming home, I'd simply poke my head into the kitchen to say hello to Aunty Kiew Moi, troop to my room to put down my bags, check my mail, amble back out to the dining room to the welcoming cauldron.
Nothing's changed, even now that I've lived away and abroad for almost 4 years. Thankfully.
Asking for the same homecoming dish every time is clearly a fix of comfort food for me. But recently I've started to wonder if on some level it's also a dose of comfort for members of the welcome-home-wagon. That no matter how long or how far I've been away from home, regardless of new experiences, new ideas, new friends, wolfing down with gusto the same old mee means that, at heart, I'm still the same old me.
Homecoming Myojo Mee Recipe:
Serves 1 homesick person
1 packet Myojo mee (your choice of flavour. I like chicken curry)
1/2 handful of cai xin, cut into finger-length sections
1 handful of small peeled prawns and squid, cleaned and cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 handful of beansprouts
Light soya sauce and white pepper, to taste
Possibly overly fussy, but this specific sequence (perfected by trial and error over the last couple of decades!) optimizes the softness of the noodle and the crunch of the vegetables and seafood.
- Bring half a small saucepan of water to a rolling boil, sprinkle in the packet of seasoning from the noodle packet
- Add the noodles, let it cook for ~2 minutes
- Gently crack the egg in. If you like an eggy soup, use chopsticks to break up the egg and stir it around. If you want the egg whole but don't want it to catch at the bottom of the saucepan, make sure it sits on top of the bed of noodles
- Add the cai xin, let sit for 30 seconds
- Add the prawns and squid, stir for 30 seconds
- Add the beansprouts, stir for 30 seconds
- Check that the prawns have turned pink
- Empty the saucepan into a large bowl (contents first, then the broth, to avoid hot painful splashing)
- Add light soya sauce and white pepper to taste, if necessary
- Garnish with slices of green chili pickled in white vinegar (optional)