Singapore is known to be a melting pot of great hawker food. This is mostly attributed to our well-known hawker food heritage which started way back in the 1800’s. It begun with the migrant population selling cheap, affordable and tasty food in their makeshift stalls along sidewalks, inside of parks and community spaces close to housing estates.
Some of our best hawker food today are influenced by the local cultures at the time, adapting them to the local context and taste to suit the masses. One of these unique Singapore hawker creation is the popular fried Hokkien prawn noodles. This dish has been specialized and refined by many generations over the years into what it is today.
The Singapore fried Hokkien prawn noodles is a dish that comprises of thick yellow noodles with vermicelli, stir fried with prawns and pork stock, adding in squid and eggs as well. Although it has never been officially documented, but it has been said that this dish was created after World War 2 by Chinese sailors from the southern province of Fujian (Hokkien). After working at the factories, they would cook the excess noodles from the noodle factories with stock that was made with prawn shells and heads that were leftovers from the fish markets over traditional charcoal stoves.
The prawn heads and shells were deep fried until fragrant before water was added in to boil them into a rich and creamy broth. Then, the noodles were stir-fried and simmered with the flavorful stock before serving them with pork lard. Over time, it evolved into the beloved dish today that more ingredients such as fresh prawns, squid and pork slices were added for greater tastes.
While this dish is readily available at almost everywhere, but not all fried Hokkien prawn noodles are created equal. Some popular stalls can attract long queues of customers that are willing to brave the heat and stand in line for at least half an hour. Popular names such as Kim Keat Hokkien Mee at Toa Payoh, Nam Sing Fried Hokkien Mee at Old Airport Road Food Centre, Youfu Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee at Golden Mile Food Centers and many others will come to mind. But this dish can also be easily emulated at home.
The fried Hokkien prawn noodles is one of the popular local hawker dishes that are being taught to participants at Kitchen Showdown’s corporate cooking classes. Providing participants with the freshest prawns and squid, while substituting pork with chicken so that this dish can be enjoyed by participants of all races, an experienced chef will be dispensing step by step and detailed guidance from preparing the prawn stock all the way to garnishing and serving the fried Hokkien prawn noodles piping hot on a platter.
While there are a few different variants of the Hokkien noodles such as the KL fried Hokkien noodles and the Penang Hokkien prawn noodles soup that are equally famous and tasty, but our Singapore fried Hokkien prawn noodles hold a special place in our hearts and taste buds.