Prawn Noodles with Pork Prime Ribs Soup

by thomandaimee

Breakfast during the weekends are almost usually at a hawker centre. There are so many reasons why the locals frequent hawker centres: convenience, variety, low cost and the lack of fuss. It’s something so intrinsic to our culture and engrained into the Singaporean DNA; most of us grew up on hawker food and still visit the humble centres often for our favourite chicken rice, mee goreng or rojak. It’s not uncommon to slip on your most comfortable t-shirt and shorts and dig into a hearty meal in the humid heat.

There was debate on whether hawker food would die when the current generation of hawker uncles and aunties lay down their ladles. The youth are not interested in slogging over a stove to sell bowls of noodles at $3.50 each when they can sit in an air-conditioned office with their cushy jobs. What am I talking about? Even I have a job in the corporate world. Not many would exchange a high-paying career for a life in cooking hawker food.

But seeing the overwhelming reception of the contest between Gordon Ramsay and our hawkers, I think Singaporeans still hold local cuisine close to their hearts. Plus, we are seeing a wave of young hawker entrepreneurs in recent years (albeit with hipster names and stylised designs) and some who have taken over their parents’ aprons. In fact, hawker food is so much in our blood, ask any Singaporean living abroad what they miss most and they would say the three F’s: Family, friends and food.

For us, hawker centres are a constant reminder of how great-tasting food is just right at our doorstep. Yes, we do not cook a lot of local cuisine (why should we? It’s available at almost every corner of this island!) but it serves as a plateau of inspiration of flavours, ingredients and techniques. One should not belittle the amount of work that goes into every plate despite it’s low cost. In fact, I’m amazed how we can still pay so little for so much. Especially for those hawkers who prepare everything by hand on a daily basis.

Still, it was one of those special days that Ned wanted to get her hands cracking on our most beloved hawker dishes – Prawn Noodles Soup. It’s been some time since we last ate a really good bowl of prawn noodles with a thick flavourful soup broth. We’ve been hawker centre-hopping but could never seem to find one stall that could satisfy our cravings. (Any recommendations?) So it was down to making it on our own by using a recipe lovingly provided by another blogger.

The key to a good broth is the time given for it to simmer. The longer it is left over low heat, the thicker and heavier the flavours of the soup will be. With our Dad being the resident soup expert (we Cantonese love our soups), we had the soup simmering on until he was satisfied. Using pork prime ribs as the main base, spices such as star anise and cloves, and dried anchovies and prawn heads were also added on to create a very thick umami broth.

Cooking of the noodles was a no-brainer, it is almost like preparing pasta. The other ingredients can be boiled together with the noodles. If you read it on paper, it is almost fuss-free. The only downside is the time taken to prepare the broth which is the main deciding factor on whether the dish makes it or not. Lucky for us, we finally had our prawn noodle cravings satisfied. Oh, word of advice? Add tons of fried shallots to serve for the ultimate bowl of goodness.

Recipe can be found here.