There are generally two types of noodles: wheat-based and rice-based. The popular yellow noodles (meen) are wheat-based. The rice ones, like vermicelli (mai fun or mee hoon) and flat noodles (hor fun) are lighter. The type, shape and size of the noodles will determine which recipe it goes better with.
One of my favourite breakfast noodles is the ‘economy noodles’ or, as my Mum called it in Cantonese, keng chai mai fun. It is a combination of wheat noodle and rice vermicelli fried in some soy sauce accompanied with a chilli sauce.
I grew up eating noodles made by my Mum such as Prawn Mee, Mee Rebus and Assam Laksa. These recipes are more elaborate and they are great for parties. On those days when she cooked them, there was always an air of excitement as family and friends gathered. The extra effort put into making a good broth is worth the while when guests - slurping and burping - look satisfied and comforted.
This is what I like about my Mum's noodle recipes. It brings back many lovely memories of the gathering of friends and family.
Noodles are indeed communal.
Don’t let the long list of ingredients in the noodle recipes put you off. If you are starting out, the Ipoh Kai See Hor Fun’s broth is the easiest to make. Often, simple can be very good and a few ingredients are all you need.
The various recipes for dry noodles are fast and easy to make. Like a dressing for salads, the flavoring comes from an emulsion of sauces and oils. Use some good sauces – premium soy sauce or oyster sauce – and good flavored oils like onion oil, sesame oil, lard or chilli oil. In dry noodles, as there is no soup or stock, the flavours are more intense. Garnish with fried shallots or use a good chilli paste. You do not need many ingredients to flavour dry noodle recipes. Just find a good balance.
Once you learn to make the sauces or stocks and organise yourself well, in no time, you will find the confidence to entertain friends and guests. When you are ready for the summit, cook and serve Assam Laksa.