實兆遠福州紅糟麵線 Sitiawan Foochow Ang Jiu Mee Sua
實兆遠 Sitiawan is a small town in Perak which is most prominently identified for its Foochow heritage. The Foochow people arrived here from Fujian, China in the early days as workers at the tin mines in Ipoh and Taiping. Better known as “Little Foochow”, it has since become a stronghold in Peninsula Malaysia for the perpetuation of the regional culture which originated from the district in southeastern China, especially the unique culinary legacy of Foochow cuisine.
When it comes to Foochow cuisine, 紅糟麵線 Ang Jiu Mee Sua is surely a dish that immediately comes to mind for many of us. Chicken which has been stewed briefly in a rich and aromatic broth made from the lees residual leftovers from the fermentation process of red yeast rice in wine-making. Heavily perfumed by the sweet alchoholic scent of red yeast rice wine as well as deep heady aromas of black sesame oil, this is comfort food at its best.
麵線 Mee sua, which are essentially noodles made from wheat flour is a speciality of Min cuisine. Mee sua from Setiawan differs from the standard ones we are more accustomed to eating and buying as they are much thicker with a slight springy texture. I attribute this to the pulling process from which they have been made. The process of making is painstaking and laborious, with the elongated dough being hand pulled into thin strands repeatedly before being sun-dried. It is amazing to see just how elastic and resilient the dough is, allowing it to be stretched many times its length.
Making and pulling mee sua by hand is already a dying artform practiced by only a handful of folks in Foochow communities within the Chinese diaspora in the Southeast Asia region. The old masters age without a proper handing down of their craft as the younger generation unwilling to pick up the skill. And yet there is always a demand for 纯手工 foodstuff which has been “purely made by hand”. Surely one of the many gastronomic dilemmas around. Click here to watch how hand-pulled mee sua is being made traditionally in Serikel, Sarawak which is also another Foochow stronghold like Setiawan in Perak and Yong Peng in Johor. The stamina and finesse required in its making makes us appreciate each noodle strand we slurp as we enjoy our bowl of Foochow Ang Jiu Mee Sua.
The recipe I’d used comes from Mdm Nancy Chang, who manages nursing homes in Setiawan and Ipoh. Star Online did a series of videos on local cuisine from all over Malaysia and Setiawan was featured in one of them, where Mdm Change demonstrated how traditional Foochow Ang Jiu Mee Sua is being cooked in Sitiawan. I basically “eyeballed” the recipe and so here it is. Click here to watch the video of Mdm Chang cooking Ang Jiu Mee Sua together with the art of mee sua pulling by Grandma Ling, a Setiawan local.
Sitiawan Foochow Ang Jiu Mee Sua Recipe (serves 4-6) (adapted from here)
4-6 鸡大腿 whole chicken thigh and drumsticks (appro. 1.2kg) chopped into large pieces
3 tbsp 麻油 sesame oil + more for drizzling
30g 老姜 old ginger
2-3 heaped tbsp 红糟 fermented red yeast rice wine lees
1.5 litres hot water
福州紅麴米酒 Foochow red yeast rice wine
盐 Salt to taste
4-6 serves of thick Setiawan mee sua (can replace with conventional thin ones)
4-6 hard boiled eggs, shelled (optional)
fresh coriander leaves for garnishing (optional)
Cut ginger into thin slices. Take a quarter of the ginger slices and continue to julienne into thin strips.
In a wok/frying pan, add sesame oil and heat over medium-high flame until aromatic and smoky.
Add julienned ginger strips and stir fry until they crisp up. Dish up, drain away excess oil and set aside to cool.
To the same wok of heated sesame oil, add the remaining ginger slices and stir fry until fragrant.
Add fermented red yeast rice wine lees and stir fry a little before adding chunks of chicken.
Toss the chicken pieces around, making sure they are well coated with the red yeast rice lees.
When the meat pales and skin appears to be oozing fat, add hot water directly into the wok until the chicken pieces are completely submerged. Add hardboiled eggs at this point if using.
Bring the mixture to a boil. Turn down flame to medium low and continue to simmer for another 20 min or until chicken is tender. Adjust taste with salt.
To serve, first cook mee sua in a separate pot of water until the noodles soften. They take less than 2 min to cook. Do not overcook or they will turn soggy.
Place slightly drained noodles in individual serving bowls and ladle broth, hard boiled egg and chicken pieces over the noodles.
Garnish with ginger strip crisps, coriander and drizzle sesame oil and a generous splosh of red yeast rice wine over.
4-6 支 鸡大腿，约 1.2kg 斩成块状
3 汤匙 黑麻油
2-3 汤匙 红糟
1.5 公升 热水
4-6人份 實兆遠福州麵線 (可用普通福建面线取代)
4-6 颗 水煮蛋