Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Mee Krob

First had this sweet salty sticky Thai number in Sydney in 1989. Took a few years for me to find it on a Brisbane menu but eventually it popped up. About 10 years ago, I pledged to make my own. It is a delicious dish, works as a side or a meal, and I loved its complexity, hence I wanted to cook it. 

Of course, as things go - and what with the divorce, and being a single mum, and changing jobs, and buying a new house, and getting married again - it's taken me 10 years to get around to it. But I did, and it was fun. Tasted pretty good too.

The secret, which is the secret with all this speedy cooking process of Asian foods, is to have every single ingredient chopped or whatever, lined up in bowls, ready to go. What you don't want is to have to slow the heat to chop your shallot and then try and coax the heat back.

The other secret (sorry, I forgot to mention there were two) is get the oil in your wok frighteningly hot before you do the noodles. I didn't have it quite hot enough, don't think I was that brave so my noodles weren't as crispy as I'd like. So you be brave. 

(Top right pic is mine, bottom left is someone else's.)


Serves 4-6 as a side (so if it's a main, you do the math)

1 firm tofu cake (just get it from Woolies)
Freakin' heaps of peanut oil
125g dried rice vermicelli noodles
50g palm sugar (you can use brown sugar if you want, but I'd rather you didn't)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 shallots, finely chopped
150g pork mince
8-10 green prawns, shelled and chopped
1 teaspoon ground chilli (more if you want)
2 tablespoons lime juice

to serve: fresh coriander leaves, bean sprouts, more chopped spring onions


Get your wok out. Mine is an electric one that sits on the bench and it's huge. Ergo it's perfect.

Heat a bit of oil in the bottom. Get your tofu out of the plastic, dry it off with paper towels, then cut it into 1cm cubes. In batches, fry it up, then when it's golden, drain on paper towels.

Pour literally a third of your bottle of oil into the wok. Maybe more. I know, scary, but if you only do it once a year, it's ok.

Now turn that sucker up as high as you can without setting your house on fire. Don't be afraid. Consider removing the batteries from your smoke alarm for this process.

When it looks sinister and hot, like the sort of hot oil that King Henry VIII would have thrown someone in if they looked sideways at Anne Boleyn, then add your noodles in batches. If you've ever cooked pappadams in hot oil, it's sort of the same process. When they puff up, about 30 seconds, whip them over to the other side for a few seconds, then drain on paper towels. Turn your wok off.

Pop the palm sugar (it should come in cubes, like an ice cube tray) into a mortar and pestle and pound it into a paste.

Put the vinegar, fish sauce and sugar into a small saucepan on a low heat and dissolve. You can keep it there (on the low heat) until you need it.

OK - here we go. Time to build.

Take most of the oil out of wok (stick it in an empty Dolmio jar and put that in your bin - we can talk about why you even use Dolmio in anther blog), then get it hot again. Saute the garlic and shallots for a minute or so, then chuck in the prawns and pork mince. Sprinkle on the chilli (you be the judge) and stir a bit more.

Get your vinegar/sugar thing off the stove and pour it in the wok, then add the lime juice. Have some fun working with the flavours to get it to your liking. (Also, what I did was add tap water to the vinegar/sugar saucepan and put it back on the stove on a low heat, to stop the sugar from setting. When I had more time, I boiled it up then threw it all down the sink. Don't tell Greenpeace.)

When you're happy with flavours, break up the noodles and add them to the wok syrup thing and mix. Then add the tofu.

And you're done!

When it is all piping hot, dish into bowls and top with that other stuff I've listed up top. You can serve with chicken, a curry or on its own. You may also just eat it straight from the wok. Mad if you don't.