My first Christmas gift from my hubby was a beautiful Peranakan cookbook. I was very much a novice at cooking then and hence was intimidated by the great number of ‘strange’ ingredients and unfamiliar steps in most of the recipes found within.
5 years later (our wedding anniversary is around the corner!), I have gained some confidence and average skills at cooking. Just a few weeks ago, I started saving prawn heads and shells from the prawns after peeling them as I thought it would be such a waste to discard them since they could be used for flavouring prawn soup. And one thing led to another. I realised that my Peranakan cookbook has a prawn mee soup recipe and I felt that it was high time to give it a go.
The soup is the star of the dish :)
The recipe shared below is an adapted version as I didn’t include all the ingredients from the cookbook and had also incorporated other ingredients some of which were suggested by online food bloggers.
Ingredients (serves 2 adults and 1 toddler)
Pork bones – 2 big ones (I bought one pack from Sheng Siong)
Pork spare ribs – 350g
Prawns – 10-12 medium
Prawn heads – about 30 prawn heads saved earlier from other dishes and froze in the freezer
Fish cakes – sliced
Kang kong (water convovulous) – picked the leaves with some stem portion (amount is up to individual preference)
Carrots – 1 big, peeled and cut into chunks (to satisfy my husband’s craving)
Garlic – 3 cloves, skin intact, crushed
Star anise – 1
Cloves – 4
Black peppercorns – 1 tsp (I didn’t have these and substituted them with ground pepper)
Brown sugar – 1 tbsp
Light soy sauce – 1 tbsp
Yellow noodles – 1 pack (about 420 g, we had leftovers)
Water – 1 litre
Vegetable oil – 1 tbsp
1) Start thawing the prawn heads by running tap water over them in a sieve for a few seconds. Set aside to thaw further.
2) Bring a pot of 1 litre of water + carrot chunks to boil. In the meantime, blanch pork bones and spare pork ribs in boiling water.
3) Once the water is boiling vigorously, add the blanched pork bones, spare pork ribs, garlic, star anise, cloves and peppercorns. Let it come to a boil again and let it boil for a few minutes. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to the lowest and simmer for 2 hours.
4) Start peeling the prawns by removing the heads (add these to the batch of thawing prawn heads) and shells but leaving the tails intact. Devein the prawns by inserting a sharp toothpick in the back of the prawns just below the visible vein and lifting it out. Rinse the prawns and keep them under cling wrap in the refrigerator for use later.
5) Heat up the wok and then heat up 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Stir-fry the prawn heads until fragrant (about 5 minutes). Flame off.
6) Scoop out 1-2 ladle of soup simmering in the pot, add to the prawn heads and stir to dissolve the juices stuck onto the wok. Transfer everything in the wok into the simmering soup pot. Increase the heat to bring the soup to boil again and then cover the pot to continue simmering at low heat.
7) About 15 minutes before the 2 hours of simmering is up, blanch the kang kong, fish cake slices and noodles in boiling water separately. Portion the noodles, kang kong and fish cake slices into 3 serving bowls.
8) Remove the prawn heads and pork bones from the soup and bring it to boil. Place all the refrigerated prawns in a sieve and cook them in the boiling soup until just cooked (don’t overcook them!). Portion out the prawns in the serving bowls too.
9) Season the soup with brown sugar and light soy sauce. Adjust the taste according to your preference. Remove scum from the soup if any. Ladle the soup, spare pork ribs and carrots into the serving bowls. Serve hot with a dipping dish of cut chilli and light soy sauce! Yums :D