The Hokkien Libido
We Hokkien are an fugly, libidinous and lascivious lot.
Hokkiens are rumoured to have a higher libido than their Teochew, Hainanese and Cantonese brothers , and are known to spawn like frogs in many places, and have many families.
What, you ask, accounts for their higher libido ? Well it’s evolution and also something to do with what the other dialect groups are like.
The Teochew are gentlemanly – just listen to the way they speak – so gentle and so musical.
They speak with such a sing song lilt that women fall in love with them instantly, so they don’t have to try very hard.
So they get too much of it. And they become complacent.
Teochew men are so gentle that even in Teochew opera, all the leading female roles are played by men.
If Teochew men see someone handsome and a little girly in the streets, they will declare them “Kar ki nang” (literally “our own kind“) in a sing song fashion.
It is strongly believed that it was the Teochews who went over to Korea and influenced the Korean men to become what they are today, with their soft flawless skin, their nifty hip hop moves and their curly hair.
So the Teochews are extremely metrosexual, almost dangerously girly. But God, in his infinite wisdom, endowed the Teochew men.
The women just threw up their hands in despair. So gentlemanly, so sing song, and yet endowed down there.
“Win Liao Lor (literally “I give up, you win”).
And so they succumbed.
Hainanese men are very handsome as you may know. They have porcelain like skin and a square jaw so women go crazy over them.
As a result, they find sex disdainful as it makes them hot and sweaty and interferes with their soft handsome skin.
Hainanese men are famed for wearing a bowtie because their favourite job is being a waiter in an old time colonial establishment.
It is rumoured that they never take off their bow tie even in the buff as that is their mojo, and it drives the women wild.
In the late 1970s, one Hainanese man relocated to Overland Avenue Los Angeles in the US and started the Chippendales.
Where do you think the Chippendales got their bow tie idea from ?
Cantonese men are sexually curious but because their women are violent like the 369 (“Sah Lak Kau ” a notorious Chinese street gang in Singapore), the men have become uptight and constantly fearful for their Crown Jewels which, in any event, have been handed to their wives for safekeeping.
So the Cantonese men are a frustrated lot, and because their women are so dominant and fearful, Cantonese men developed an Oedipus complex.
A few times a day, the Cantonese man will lash out ” Dui Lei Lo Moh” meaning literally “have tea with your mother!”
Why they think having Tea with their mothers constitute cruel and unusual punishment is anyone’s guess.
So that leaves the Hokkien, who are typically salt of the earth people, dark and sweaty, and invariably look like the behind of a donkey.
In case you are shocked at how unkind and critical I can be, let me hasten to assure you that I am speaking of my own, and I am just being honest and objective.
So the facially disadvantaged Hokkien, faced with thousands of years of insecurity and lucking out, feel the need to find affection everywhere, spawning their seeds like wild magpies accidentally dosed with viagra pellets.
Which brings me neatly to the topic of Hokkien mee.
Because the Hokkiens have concubines everywhere, they have developed their cuisine in a confused and unorganised manner.
And because they are often surreptitious about where they are (for 100 of years, there has been no gps tracking technology or Google locate), their food has emerged everywhere undetected but with tell tale names, suggesting where they have been sowing their seeds.
So when you mention Hokkien mee, it is like a sordid revelation on where my ancestors have been frisky and happy.
So in no order of superiority, there are four different versions
1. Singapore Fried Hokkien mee
the best Singapore
2. KL Hokkien mee
3. Penang Hokkien prawn mee
4. Singapore Hokkien prawn mee
Up to this day, Malaysians and Singaporeans still fight about who invented which dish and whose is superior.
Little did they know that much of it has been settled by historical events.
More importantly, some of the food as it exists today, it’s origination and genre and bragging rights, have been long settled by a landmark historical meeting between our two heads of states in 1965.
It was a tense and icy meeting.
Singapore was about to be expelled from the Federation of the Malayan States.
Tunku : Lee we want Singapore to leave the federation! You do not share our Lepak (literally chillax to the extreme) values and all you want to do is work work work !
LKY: Be reasonable ! Give us time ! We will learn to be Lepak.
Tunku : No! Leave by this month!
LKY: But…. but … we will need credibility. We will need water !
Tunku: For free ?!! You think I’m goondu (“moron“) ??!! You think you are going to get it for free ?
12 sens a gallon!
LKY : 10 sens a gallon. But you deliver to us Fob!
Tunku : 8 sens a gallon but you truck it yourselves!
LKY : 5 sens a gallon. But only if we get to treat it and sell it back to you for 15 sens a gallon!
Tunku : 3 sens a gallon – take it or leave it !
LKY: But ….. but …… Ok.
Tunku : And we want the world to know that we are your Abang! (“Elder brother“).
And that Nasi Lemak is our national dish!!
LKY: How dare you ! Is it because I’m Chinese ??
Then we take Chicken Rice !
Tunku : Don’t test me !
For Hokkien mee we will make ours black, robust and sticky with manly pork lard bits.
And we will have it with our gangsta Guinness Stout! Black and power!
Yours will be white and pasty and girly. Fishy because of lots of seafood and confused whether it should be wet or dry.
And you will have it with the girly drink you call Tiger Beer (now you know why Malaysia has no national beer)
LKY: You tyrant ! Then we want Prata!
Tunku: You wish! What will our Indians eat ?
We will retain our prata but we will call it Roti Canai (“manly gonads pancake”)
Tunku : Bah !
And so it came to be that Singapore Fried Hokkien Mee became distinctly ours.
Why I do what I do
Some people have asked me why I go to such lengths to explain our people and our culture when describing our food.
Well, for starters, this is a cosmopolitan literary-worthy cerebral blog which will go international and viral one day.
It is first and foremost written irreverently for my fellow Singaporeans and my Abangs across the border.
But with you caucasians coming here in droves, I wanted you, my fellow Ang Mos, to eat well and be properly educated on the fine cuisines of South East Asia.
Don’t question what I say in this Blog. You have no way of knowing any better and along the way, you may pick up intimate tips of our fine culture and other useful shit which will put you in good stead in life.
For example, for as long as history has known, we Asians have been calling you “Kwai Lo” and “Ang Mo” since the beginning of time. Those terms are really quite rude but we say it with such a Teochew sing song tone that you don’t suspect a thing.
Maybe one day I will reveal all to you.
Qualities of a good Fried Hokkien Mee
the straits times
I thought about whether I should painstakingly set out the steps I take in cooking Hokkien Mee.
But I chanced upon this excellent article written by one of the food blogging industry’s stalwarts Dr Leslie Tay in his blog ieatishootipost.
The steps detailed in the article are so complete and informative that I can do no better than to ask you to read it in its entirety.
I would only add a few words.
A good Hokkien Mee must have “wok hei” (literally “breath of the wok). This is achieved by using a big cast iron wok and a giant fire big enough to burn down not just your own house but your neighbours house two doors away.
To give you a graphic image of what a big fire is, this is your flame
This is a wok hei fire.
Okay does this mean then no Hokkien Mee at home?
No all it means is don’t be too stressed if it does not turn out the same then when you eat out – it’s fine.
Do the best with what you have and accept that your Hokkien Mee will be at best 85-90% of the real thing because you can’t achieve Wok Hei at home.
Follow our Hokkien man approach to sex. We don’t aspire to be the Teochews who have big below the waist personalities, or the Hainanese with their damn mojo bow ties.
We do the best we can, stay happy and occasionally have a beer with and laugh at our Cantonese brothers prompting them to scream “Diu Le Lo Mo”- what’s this obsession with wanting to have tea with my Mother bro ?
But there are a few things you can do to remedy the lack of wok hei:
1. Invest in a cast iron wok
Cast iron have incredible heat retention properties and your cast iron wok will achieve, and more importantly, retain, high heat way better than your normal wok.
The only pain is that they are heavy and as fugly as a Hokkien man and after washing, you need to coat it with a layer of oil to keep it from rusting.
2. Maximum fire throughout
Once you start your cooking, you need to blast up your fire to it’s absolutely measly maximum, and keep it on maximum throughout.
What this means is that you need to be quick, nimble and alert during the entire cooking process so as not to burn the food.
Play some gangsta rap and go bare bodied.
3. Wooden wok cover
Invest in one of those wooden wok covers you see the Hawkers selling Hokkien mee use.
You will see your Hokkien mee Hawker stir fry the noodles vigorously but occasionally, he will put on this wooden wok cover. What this does is that it traps all the steam and broils the noodles intensely over even higher heat. This contributes to wok hei and intense taste.
Without this cover, your gentle flame will find it difficult to bring the food up to boiling point quickly and as a result, your noodles will become a soggy mess with no intense taste.
A word of caution. This steaming lid which a lot of us have with a lot of space in the wok does not do the trick.
You are not steaming your Hokkien mee. You are trying to create intense heat to pressure broil the noodles and that’s why the wooden cover is flat.
4. Extract a good broth
You will see your Hokkien mee Hawker ladle oodles and oodles of broth into the noodles, stir it in and then quickly cover it with the wooden lid. You will see him repeat the process several times in fact.
If your broth is good and intense, you are 50% away from a perfect Hokkien mee.
In the article, Dr Leslie Tay talks about roasting the prawn heads to achieve umami goodness.
I fry mine in lard oil and add cognac to them over high heat, then blitz them in a food processor to add back into the broth.
I also add 2 kg of clams into my broth to give it that intense seafood umami flavour.
Lard, Lard, Lard
Finally, if you don’t want to add freshly grilled lard and/or use lard oil to cook your Hokkien mee, don’t cook this dish.
The taste of Hokkien mee is incomplete without the lard oil used to cook it.
It is the one dish where Lard is critical.
It balances out the very seafood laced fishy broth you have to give it a umami nirvana swine heaven flavour in your dish.
Lard it or leave it.
10 Suggested places for Hokkien Mee
In no order of merit or any order whatsoever.
1. Swee Guan Hokkien Mee 水源福建面 (the original Lorong 29 Geylang Hokkien Mee)
549 Geylang Road (Lorong 29), Singapore 389504 | Tel: +65 9817 5652 | Opening Hours: 5pm – 11pm (Daily)
2. Geylang Lorong 29 Fried Hokkien Mee 芽笼29巷
396 East Coast Road, Singapore 428994 | Tel: +65 9733 1388 | Opening Hours: 11.30am – 9.30pm (Tue – Sun), Closed on Mon
3. Nam Sing Fried Hokkien Mee
Old Airport Road Food Centre #01-32, 51 Old Airport Road, S390051
Tel: (65) 6440 5340
4. Hainan Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee 海南炒福建面
#B1-32, Singapore 199583
Open 10 am to 5pm
5. Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee 鸿兴炒酥东虾面
30 Seng Poh Road, Tiong Bahru Market, #02-01, Singapore 168898 | Opening Hours: 11am – 8pm (Tue – Sat), Closed on Mon
6. Kim Keat Hokkien Mee
Block 92 Toa Payoh Lor 4, #01-264, Singapore 310092 | Tel +65 9456 0413 | Opening Hours: 11.15am – 10pm (Wed – Mon), Closed on Tue
7. Tiong Bahru Yi Sheng Fried Prawn Mee
#01-13, ABC Brickworks Food Centre, 6 Jalan Bukit Merah, Singapore 150006
8.Ah Hock Fried Hokkien Mee
9.Xiao Di Fried Prawn Noodle
10. Tian Tian Lai (Come Daily) Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee