Braised noodles, or what we more frequently call ‘lor mee’ in Singapore, is a noodle dish that uses thick and flat yellow noodles, served in a thick brown gravy sauce alongside fish cake slices, braised eggs and deep-fried fish slices. I started to eat this dish more frequently when I was pregnant with the boy because of the fish slices served with it – fish is supposed to be good for the foetus.
Making this dish by myself made me realise that it isn’t as easy as it looks. This seemingly simple bowl of noodles requires a whole lot of effort because one needs to make the gravy (and making it right takes some skills), cook the braised pork belly and braised egg as well as deep-fry the fish slices – each one of which is done separately and in a timely manner. The gravy, for one, cannot be cooked way in advance because it will dry up easily; nor can you deep-fry the fish slices too early because they will get soggy very quickly. It’s all about the skills and experience of cooking this dish, both of which I have none, unfortunately, to get this dish right. But believe me, once you are finally able to put together all of these different layers into the same serving bowl, that sense of satisfaction is indescribable and it makes eating this dish a much more enjoyable experience.
Ingredients (pork belly and egg):
- Water: 4 cups
- Dark soy sauce: 1 cup
- Rock sugar: 80g
- Garlic: 6 cloves, sliced
- Ginger: 40g, sliced
- 5-spice powder: 2 tbsp
- Pork belly: 500g
- Egg: 6, boiled
Ingredients (deep-fried fish slices):
- Sheng yu (snake head fish): 400g, chunked or sliced thinly
- Salt: 1/2 tsp
- White pepper: 1/4 tsp
- Sesame oil: 1/2 tsp
- Plain flour: 2 tbsp
- Egg white: 1
Ingredients (gravy and noodles):
- Flat yellow noodles: 400g
- Black vinegar: 1/2 cup + extra to serve
- Salt: 1 tsp
- Sugar: 1 tbsp
- Light soy sauce: 2 tbsp
- Egg: 3, beaten
- Tapioca starch: 1/2 cup, mixed with 1/2 cup water
- Fish cake: 4 cakes, sliced
- Ngoh hiang: 4 sticks, sliced
- Spring onion: 1 stalk, chopped
- Red chilli: 2, sliced
Method (pork belly and egg):
- Combine water, dark soy sauce, rock sugar, garlic, ginger and 5-spice powder in a pot. Bring to a boil.
- Place pork belly into pot. Simmer 20min.
- Place hard-boiled eggs into pot. Simmer for another 20min.
- Remove eggs and pork. Slice pork and halve eggs. Set aside.
- Sieve gravy to discard ginger, garlic and powder. Set gravy aside.
Method (deep-fried fish slices):
- Mix together fish slices, salt, white pepper and sesame oil.
- Mix in plain flour and egg white.
- Deep-fry for 4min till golden brown. Place on paper towel and set aside.
Method (gravy and noodles):
- Boil yellow noodles. Scoop into 4 serving bowls.
- Add black vinegar, salt, sugar, light soy sauce into pot with pork belly gravy. Let boil.
- Reduce heat to simmer. Stir beaten eggs slowly into pot.
- Stir tapioca starch mixture into pot till even. Switch off heat.
- Top noodles with pork belly slices, halved eggs, fish cake and ngoh hiang.
- Scoop gravy into bowls in equal portions.
- Garnish with spring onion and red chilli. Serve hot with black vinegar.
Somehow, the gravy still looks a tad off the way they should look – a little bit more starchy translucent and less opague. I will need to experiment with this more in order to whip out that perfect bowl of lor mee for my family!