Mee goreng



Mee goreng (“fried noodles” in Malay) is a dish of fried noodles that is associated with South Indians but remains unique to this region.1 The noodle dish is an early fusion food that incorporates the yellow egg noodle commonly used in Chinese cuisine, with spices and mutton which are found in Indian food, coupled with tomato sauce, an ingredient often associated with Western cuisine.2

Description
The spicy mix of egg noodles is fried with mutton or other meat such as chicken, along with a handful of onions, potatoes, peas, cabbage and beansprouts. It is then topped with thinly sliced green chilies, tau kua (grilled beancurd) as well as boiled, scrambled or fried eggs. The noodles are stir-fried quickly with tomato ketchup and sometimes chilli.3 A good plate of mee goreng should have some noodles slightly charred and crispy. Singapore-style mee goreng used to be accompanied by thinly sliced cucumber in yoghurt, but is now usually paired with a simple tomato sauce and cucumber slices.4

History
Some sources suggest that it was the Muslim Chulias of Madras who originally popularised the dish. The dish remains strongly associated with the Indian Muslim community although it is sometimes also categorised as a Malay dish. According to some, the earliest known mee goreng outlet, Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng in Penang, Malaysia, first started on a push-cart in the early 20th century.5

Traditionally, mee goreng had a brown hue but now bears a strong red colour due to the tomato sauce used.6 This is especially true of the Penang mamak mee goreng, which is thoroughly red. In some stalls, mee rebus gravy is poured over the noodles. In Penang, the use of dried cuttlefish in the stock gives the gravy its distinctive taste. Sometimes curry leaves, tamarind juice and toasted sesame seeds are added, adding a complex flavour to the dish. Other stalls add prawn stock and even mashed sweet potatoes for added sweetness.7 Recently, the addition of deep fried ikan bilis (anchovies) has given rise to a new version of mee goreng known as ikan bilis mee goreng.

Variations
Chinese-style mee goreng is said to be created in 1975 by restaurant owner Ting Choon Teng and chef Quek Ah Ai of Punggol (Hock Kee) Seafood Restaurant.8 In the mid-1970s, after an Indian stallholder selling mee goreng at the restaurant left, Ting and Quek produced their own take on traditional mee goreng. Their version uses a sambal sauce made up of 12 herbs and spices. Instead of being dry like the traditional mee goreng, the Ponggol mee goreng is moist and has seafood added to the noodles. Bean sprouts and coriander replace the potato and cabbage commonly found in mee goreng.9 Other sources have attributed the creation of Punggol Mee Goreng to Punggol Choon Seng or Choon Seng Restaurant that was also located at the end of Punggol Road during the same period.10

In Malaysia, the dish is known as mamak mee goreng, where mamak  means “uncle” in Tamil, a term used to refer to local Indian Muslims from southern India.11 Variant names such as kelinga mee and mee kling also reflect the dish’s Indian roots, though keling or kling is now regarded as a derogatory term for the Indian community and thus is seldom used.12

Although Indonesia also has a dish known as bak mie goreng, its origins and ingredients are different from the South Indian mee goreng found in Singapore and Malaysia. The ingredients of the Indian mee goreng are similar to those found in the Indian nasi goreng, bee hoon goreng and kway teow goreng, where the yellow egg noodle is replaced by rice, rice vermicelli and flat rice noodles respectively. Thus Indian mee goreng stalls also offer these dishes.13



Author
Bonny Tan




References
1.
The food of Malaysia: 62 easy-to-follow and delicious recipes from the crossroads of Asia. (2005). Singapore: Periplus Editions, pp. 15, 70. (Call no.: RSEA 641.59595 FOO); Ong, J. T. (2010). Penang heritage food. Singapore: Landmark Books, pp. 141–142, 152–156. (Call no.: RSEA 641.59591 ONG); Sanmugam, D., & Kasinathan, S. (2011). Indian heritage cooking. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Cuisine, p. 32. (Call no.: RSING 641.595957 DEV)
2. Tan, S. (2014). Singapore heritage food. Singapore  Landmark Books, pp. 112–113. (Call no.: RSING 641.595957 TAN); Ong, J. T. (2010). Penang heritage food. Singapore: Landmark Books, pp. 141–142, 152–156. (Call no.: RSEA 641.59591 ONG) 
3. The food of Malaysia: 62 easy-to-follow and delicious recipes from the crossroads of Asia. (2005). Singapore: Periplus Editions, pp. 15, 70. (Call no.: RSEA 641.59595 FOO); Musa, N. (2016). Amazing Malaysian: Recipes for vibrant Malaysian home cooking. London: Square Peg, p. 165. (Call no.: RSEA 641.59595 MUS) 
4. Hooi, J. (1985). The guide to Singapore hawker food. Singapore: Hospitality Host, p. 39. (Call no.: RSING 641.595957 HOO) 
5. See, B. (2006). Famous street food of Penang: A guide and cook book. Malaysia: Star Publications, pp. 116–117. (Call no.: RSEA 641.595951 FAM); Wong, J. (2007). The Star guide to Malaysian street food. Kuala Lumpur: Star Publications. p. 88. (Call no.: RSEA 641.59595 STA) 
6. Chiang, M. (1991, June 9). Something is missing from today’s chao guo tiao. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 
7. Chiang, M. (1991, June 9). Something is missing from today’s chao guo tiao. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Ong, J. T. (2010). Penang heritage food. Singapore: Landmark Books, pp. 141–142, 152–156. (Call no.: RSEA 641.59591 ONG); See, B. (2006). Famous street food of Penang: a guide and cook book. (2006). Malaysia: Star Publications, pp. 116–120. (Call no.: RSEA 641.595951 FAM); Wong, J. (2007). The Star guide to Malaysian street food. Kuala Lumpur: Star Publications, p. 38. (Call no.: RSEA 641.59595 STA) 
8. Chan, M. (1994, November 20). Punggol: Gone but fare is not forgotten. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG;  Punggol Seafood Holdings. About us. Retrieved 2016, June 13 from Punggol Seafood Holdings website: http://www.ponggolseafood.com.sg/wepg_view.php?wepg_id=wepg20110000375; Favourites revisited at Punggol (Hock Kee) Seafood Restaurant. (2004, July 26). The New Paper, p. 36. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Chan, M. (1994, November 20). Punggol: Gone but fare is not forgotten. The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 
10. Tan, S. (2014). Singapore heritage food. Singapore: Landmark Books, pp. 112-113. (Call no.: RSING 641.595957 TAN); Homey fare, casual style. (2004, March 5). The Business Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 
11. Ong, J. T. (2010). Penang heritage food. Singapore: Landmark Books, pp. 141–142, 152–156. (Call no.: RSEA 641.59591 ONG); See, B. (2006). Famous street food of Penang: A guide and cook book. Malaysia: Star Publications, p. 9. (Call no.: RSEA 641.595951 FAM)
12. Ong, J. T. (2010). Penang heritage food. Singapore: Landmark Books, pp. 141–142, 152–156. (Call no.: RSEA 641.59591 ONG) 
13. Naleeza Ebrahim & Yaw, Y. Y. (2006). Not just a good food guide: Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 117. (Call no.: RSING 647.955957 NAL)



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Cookery>>Cooking methods>>Frying
Ethnic foods
Ethnic Communities>>Food
Cookery, Singaporean