I’m sorry, no, if you are thinking this post is related to a Slavic folk dance. Sorry to disappoint you. I wish it was, but right now, I’m feeling pretty nostalgic. I have not been back to Kuching since 2008! 7 years is a long time. The “itch” has begun 😉
Kolo may be a Serbo-Croat word, meaning “wheel” or a Slavic dance performed in a circle, but the ‘kolo’ I grew up knowing is none other than the springy, curly, yellow noodles “dancing and bouncing” in my bowl, garnished with crushed crispy fried garlic and shallot, tasty minced pork, slices of sweet and succulent char siu (BBQ’d pork), with sprinkle of chopped spring onions. And by the way, the secret to the delectable taste and flavour of the kolo mee as the Kuchingites called it, lies in the use of rendered lard (or drippings of bacon)
Here’s a classic bowl of Kuching’s kolo mee. Very simple ingredients used, and proverbially phrased as “less is more“.
Some hawker stalls would include chai sim, literally translated as “vegetable heart” or Chinese Flowering Cabbage. I remembered paying only 50 cents for a good quantity of kolo mee at the stall near my parents’ house many years ago. It was probably an illegally constructed stall built within the compound of the owner’s house. Illegal or not, my siblings and I were always looking forward to the opening hour of the stall in the evening. It was not an eat-in stall, but a take-away one. What the kolo mee seller did in those days was assembling the kolo mee on a newspaper lined with a clean plastic film like so.
Obviously, I did not take this picture. Courtesy of MalaysiaFlavors.com and thanks!
When we brought home the paper-wrapped kolo mee, we never transferred the noodles on a plate or bowl. We ate the noodles as they were originally served, i.e. out of the paper with a pair of chopsticks! Absolutely no hassle of cleaning and washing up. That’s the beauty of simple living 😉
When the Craving gets Tough …
Kolo mee is synonymous to Sarawak, particularly, Kuching. Even the chewy-springy-curly noodles are found only in Sarawak. It is not the same as wantan mee, where the colour is darker, drenched in dark soy sauce, when cooked.
However, the wonton noodles are easier to buy overseas. The noodles are quite similar but not curly and bouncy as kolo mee. When the craving gets tough, the tough gets going….
I was glad I could get hold of these wonton noodles in Belgium.
For best result, kolo mee is always prepared per bowl per person and served immediately. Production time of homemade kolo mee may be a wee bit longer as I lacked the proper utensils.
I skipped using lard and found an excellent substitute. Crispy fried shallots in oil! And it’s healthier😜
Before assembling the bowl of kolo mee, you need to either make your own char siu or store bought. I homemade my char siu. I will blog about this in another post, but here’s the end result. I daresay it was YUMS!
The next item that needs prior preparation is the minced meat. White meat is preferred, for example pork, chicken or turkey. I used a mixture of pork and calf minces, marinated in light and dark soy sauces, oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce, freshly milled white pepper and some cornflour to bind the meat and seasonings together. Marinate for at least one hour and then cook the minced meat. Set aside.
Here’s how I executed my bowl of kolo noodle. I have chosen to use the word “noodle” here, because it is a generic term and it is not confined only to “mee” but also bee hoon, tang hoon, kway teow, etc.
Recently, I made kolo kway teow. It was a big hit with my 3 guys. It was not the first time I made kolo noodles, but it was the first time I used kway teow (flat rice noodle) in this recipe.
After blanching/ cooking the flat rice noodle according to instruction, set that aside.
In a big pot, boil some water. While the water is boiling away, cook the prawns (washed and deveined. You may want to leave the tail end intact. I opted to remove the entire prawn shell). Set the prawns aside.
Next in the pipeline is the colour ‘green’. Although spring onions or chai sim are most popularly used, I chose to use Shanghai Bok Choy, which is easier to find than chai sim. Wash, clean and cut in desired length and size. Set aside.
Finally, the chillies. I made pickled red chillies. Simply, fresh red chillies in white vinegar. Set aside.
At this stage, I felt ecstatic! I went through the checklist and ticked my “list” visually.
Blanched kway teow ✅
Homemade char siu ✅
Cooked minced meat ✅
Homemade crispy shallots in oil ✅
Cooked prawns ✅
Washed, cleaned and cut Shanghai Bok Choy ✅
Boiling water ✅
Pickled red chillies ✅
Oh yes, forgot one thing. Cold water.
Ooh…. I was getting excited! *big grin*
Don’t forget to reach out for these bottles from your larder – White vinegar, fish sauce, Sarawak white pepper, light soy sauce, sesame oil (optional), cooking wine (optional). These liquid items complement the whole dish.
Now the “le moment suprême” (the moment of truth)
Reach for a working bowl and add a tablespoon of crispy shallots in oil and a teaspoon each of vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, a dash of white pepper and a pinch of chicken bouillon. You may or may not want to add sesame oil and rice wine, which may be too overpowering and makes the noodle tastes less authentic. My other half prefers the smoky flavours from the sesame oil and rice wine. As I have said, they are optional ingredients and are simply there as personal preference.
Next, get a big wire strainer ready. Scoop a portion of kway teow into the strainer. Dip the strainer in the boiling water until the kway teow softens, definitely not too long. We don’t want mushy and lumpy flat rice noodles.
Immediately transfer the hot kway teow to the cold water in just seconds and then back to the boiling water. Then immediately transfer the noodle to the working bowl and mix well to coat the kway teow with the seasoning liquid. Transfer the noodle portion to a nice serving bowl or plate.
Meanwhile, warm the prawns and baby Bok Choy in the hot water in a matter of seconds. Drain and garnish the bowl of kway teow with a few slices of char siu, prawns, minced meat and baby Bok Choy, topped with some crispy shallots. Serve immediately with pickled chillies and a bowl of clear broth, sprinkled with chopped spring onions. Ridiculously hard work, but I’m a tough nut to crack! LOL!
Heaven! I’m in heaven!😋
And here were the ones made using wantan mee. Equally delicious, simply because they’re homemade.
I’m definitely linking this post to Little Thumbs Up, organised by Doreen of my little favourite DIY and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids. The January 2015 LTU theme is “Noodles and Pasta” hosted by Anne from My Bare Cupboard
Well I’ve tried and I’ve done it and I’m totally satisfied.
Will I make this again? You bet!
Have a fantastic weekend!