This version of the famous Hokkien Har Mee, spicy Malaysian prawn and pork soup, was inspired by our daughter’s recent visit to have Laksa at Abel’s Komi Tiam in Canberra.
Stuck here in Sydney, with a couple of pork short ribs in the freezer, I googled around for a recipe to use the ribs and come close to an almost irreplaceable Abel’s Mum’s Laksa experience.
I read with interest about all the different versions of street hawker soups …which brought back great memories of our trip to Malaysia many moons ago.
The solution came forward in the form of a combination of recipes and my decision to just buy a good ready-made curry paste to start off the process. I bought this and other ingredients at a new Asian supermarket Summit at Bondi Junction
The great thing about this recipe is that it’s easy to make and you can pre-prepare most of it and just repeat and assemble at the end.
The other inspiration was this article in The Guardian Use your Noodle By Yottam Ottolenghi
The end result, somewhere between a laksa and a har Mee was just the soupy Asian fix we were looking for, and I got to use up the pork short ribs!
This recipe will serve 3-4 people.
- 500-750g pork Asian style short cut ribs (ask your butcher)
- 8-10 green prawns with heads and shells intact
- 180g curry laksa paste (or closest you can get)
- 50g of rock sugar chunks
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 litres of water
- 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 500g yellow Hokkien noodles
- 350g or thereabouts of rice vermicelli noodles
- 1 bunch water spinach or Asian greens of your choice eg bok choy
- 2-4 hard boiled eggs
- 3-6 tofu puffs
- Bean sprouts
- Asian crispy fried shallots
- Leaves of half a bunch of Vietnamese mint (totally optional but great if you can get it. It’s not called Laksa leaf for nothing)
- Finely chopped coriander, mint or vietnamese mint for garnish.
1. Cut pork ribs into single pieces in between the ribs, set aside
2. Peel and remove veins from prawns, reserving heads and shells.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large stock pot or casserole, add half the curry paste (reserve the rest for later). Stir fry curry paste until dark and fragrant, add prawn heads and shells (not the prawns!). Stir fry until prawn heads turn pink.
4. Add pork ribs, rock sugar and salt and cook turning until ribs are covered in curry paste and meat is sealed.
5. Pour in all the water if you can and bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer for 1.5 hours, checking from time to time to skim off impurities and oil from pork ribs. Check to see park is fall of the bone tender, add more water along the way to ensure you have enough soup for all your diners. (End result should be about 2 litres of delicious soup stock.)
6. After about an hour, hard boil your eggs, blanch your green vegees and set aside, blanch Hokkien noodles and vermicelli noodles, chop herbs, wash bean sprouts …so you have all your ingredients ready to go.
7. After an hour and a half of simmering…..Strain soup stock into a large bowl through a fine sieve or strainer. Remove pork ribs from sieve and set aside to cool in a bowl.
8. I then strained the stock one more time through a fine sieve, but that’s not totally necessary.
9. Clean stockpot or casserole dish. Pour stock back into the pot and place on stove ready to heat up and pour into your bowls.
10. In a small non-stick pan, add the other 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, heat, then add all the rest of the curry paste. Once the curry paste is dark and fragrant and the oil is separating from it, place half of it into a small sambal dish. Add the prawns to the remaining paste and oil in the pan and fry until prawns turn pink and paste is nicely coating the prawns.
11. Heat the soup stock until simmering and add vietnamese mint leaves, tofu puffs to warm up….Quickly reheat ingredients in microwave if needed, an assemble bowls.
12. In large soup serving bowls, arrange your ingredients starting with equal amounts of Hokkien and vermicelli noodles sitting side by side, top with warmed pork, green, prawns, bean sprouts, heated up tofu puffs and halved boiled eggs.
13. Remove vietnamese leaves from stock if using, then ladle soup over bowls until just under the brim of ingredients.
13. Sprinkle with herbs and crispy shallots and serve piping hot with the sambal on the side for those who want an extra chilli kick.