This is another dish that I grew up eating in Bintulu, Sarawak. I remember having them in school canteens. Now and then when I go back to Bintulu I’d order one… well, after I had my Kampua mee and Sarawak Laksa of course. I was in Bintulu for a few days back in March this year and we paid a visit to a restaurant/kopitiam that has been around for a long time and used to make good Chao Zhu Mian. Unfortunately, the standard has deteriorated.
The best Chao Zhu Mian in Bintulu has to be the one upstairs of Pasar Utama (the wet market), their deluxe big prawn version is really quite divine. Though it doesn’t come cheap at over RM20 per bowl.
A typical foochow dish, Chao Zhu Mian (炒煮面) means the noodles were stir-fried before braising in a dark soy sauce based broth. So the end product is more of a soup noodles dish. A bowl of Chao Zhu Mian should have thick fragrant soup (from the prawns, pork and wine) with plenty of wok hei from the frying process. The ingredients are very easy to find except for the Foochow red wine, but you can easily substitute it with Shao Xing wine.
Had a craving recently thanks to Rebecca who has just been in Sarawak, so off I went to work on the dish. There really isn’t much info online though so I’ve made this based on sensory memory.
Chao Zhu Mian for one
1 serving of Thin Hokkien Noodles (Yellow Noodles)
3 Large King Prawns, deveined
3 Fresh Fish balls, sliced in half
Few thin slices of Pork fillet
1 clove garlic
Big handful of Choy Sum, trimmed
2 stalks of Spring onion, chopped
2 tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce (or more if you like it darker)
1 tablespoon Light Soy Sauce (or more to adjust saltiness)
1 generous pour/splash of Shao Xing Wing or Foochow red wine
White pepper to taste
1 heap teaspoon cornstarch
Wash the noodles thoroughly and set aside.
Heat oil in pan/wok over highest heat. Add garlic, follow by pork, prawns and fish balls. Give it a quick stir before adding in the noodles.
Add wine, light and dark soy sauce followed by choy sum. Working quickly to combine everything. Then add enough water (for one serving, for example: around 150ml) to cook for 3-4 minutes. Careful not to overcook or the noodles will turn soggy.
Mix cornstarch with a bit of water and add to the mixture. Once the broth has thickened up sufficiently, it’s time to turn off the heat and add a final touch of wine. Garnish with spring onion and serve.
It’s important to leave the prawn heads on for the broth to get more of the flavour. If you hate peeling prawns (I usually do, but did this for nicer presentation), another option is to throw the heads and shells in the broth and pick them out before serving.
Such an easy dish to put together, and doesn’t not require much of your time. It’s almost like instant noodles but so much better for you. By the way, you could also add black vinegar for a Hokkien version of this dish.
Submitted this recipe to Recipe Box #8 by Bizzy Bakes.