The Tok Tok Mee

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Tok, tok, tok, tok...!

I wish I can put to words the sound I can still remember from the Mee Yoke seller when he motorcycled by our home at Lian Seng Garden. With the wooden block casteneting away, he had a certain impish way of saying "Mee Yoke! Mee Yoke!" Perhaps to avoid straining his vocal chords. Or maybe, in a high-pitched voice, it carried further. 

10 cents or 20 cents per bowl, I can't recall exactly but it was very cheap. It left an impression that it was a bowl of "poor man's noodles." The prawn, more like a small shrimp was barely visible. Sliced very thinly, it fanned out to give an impression that you had a company of it. A streak of Kang Kong (water convolvulus)  added some green to the broth with a reddish hue. The yolk of the thin slices of hard boiled egg broke off in the broth, adding dots of yellow and more flavor. 

But I can still remember that amazing broth. You do not return the noodle-emptied broth. You drank it all. 

At that age, I could not figure out what made the broth so tasty. Looking at the tine piece of prawn, I did think that the flavor must have come out of that. I found out later, observing how my Mum made her Penang Prawn Mee, that these flavours came from discards: the prawn heads and shells.

You can still find good bowls of Mee Yoke served in street stalls and coffee shops in the towns and cities of West Malaysia, like Penang and Petaling Jaya.

And if you can't find it, make it. The effort pays off as a pot of broth can make many diners happy. After all, as you are cooking it mostly from heads and shells, it is not expensive to make it. You can find the recipe here on this blog or in my cookbook. 

We cook it recently at our Alpha Course at St Andrew's Cathedral. I will leave some of these pictures to tell the delicious story.  



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