Thursday, February 25, 2016

Mee Rebus

This time last year we were in Malaysia, sampling culinary wonders at every meal. I remember one in particular, chewy noodles swimming in a flame red broth, dotted with tiny green calamansi limes and herbs. Mee rebus comes laden with toppings. Meat, herbs, bean sprouts, crisp fried shallots, boiled eggs and those distinctive calamansi limes. The soup base is flavored with lemongrass, galangal, a bright red spice paste or rempeh as it is called, beef broth and something unusual.....mashed sweet potato. What an innovative idea! Mashed potato lets the soup thicken without flour and imparts a  delicious flavor. 

Salivating with this memory in mind, I set about boiling sweet potatoes. I whiz onion and garlic into a paste. I grind some fennel and coriander. The spice paste comes together with ease. I use sliced limes as calamansi limes are hard to find. I proceed without any meat. One, because there isn't any at arm's length. Secondly, I want the flavors to stand out without the addition of meat. I don't regret it as I throw my face into the aromatic, bubbling soup. The watched pot boils as I look on in mouthwatering anticipation.

Serves 4 

2 large Sweet Potatoes 
2 large Onions
5-6 Garlic cloves
1 tablespoon Coriander seeds
1 tablespoon Fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Cumin powder 
2 tablespoons Chile Garlic Paste
1 tablespoon Paprika 
2 tablespoons Canola Oil
3 Galangal coins Or Ginger coins
2 Lemongrass stalks
3 cups Beef Stock
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
Several grinds Of Black Pepper
1 pound Egg Noodles

1 cup cooked Beef or
1 cup uncooked medium Shrimp

Hard Boiled Eggs, cut in half
Fried Shallots
Scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
Fresh Cilantro
Fresh Mint
Bean Sprouts 
Calamansi Limes cut in half  or Lime slices

Boil sweet potatoes in water till cooked soft. Drain, peel and mash. 

Grind onions and garlic to a paste.

Grind coriander and fennel seeds in a spice grinder. Add to onion paste.

Add cumin powder, chile garlic paste and paprika to onion paste. Mix well.

Heat canola oil in a deep sided saucepan.

Add onion paste to hot oil. Stir for 3-4 minutes till fragrant.

Trim lemongrass and cut into 2 inch pieces. Crush them lightly and add to paste.

Add galangal or ginger slices to paste and keep stirring.

Pour beef broth into the paste. Stir till mixed. Bring to a simmer.

Drop mashed sweet potatoes into broth and boil on a slow flame for 10 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper. 

Add beef or shrimp to broth and cook for a few minutes. Let shrimp cook for 3-5 minutes.

Cook egg noodles in boiling water. Drain. Keep aside till ready to serve.


Place a generous portion of noodles in a deep soup bowl.

If you are using bean sprouts, add a handful to noodles. 

Pour a cup of steaming broth over noodles, enough to cover them.

Garnish with an egg half, a few scallions, fresh cilantro, fresh mint, a teaspoon of fried shallots and some limes.

This is a bib, chopsticks and spoon meal!!! Warning...Do not wear white!!!! 

A heady aroma envelops the kitchen as I ladle bowls of broth. I inhale chile, freshly cut herbs, lime and crisp onions. A mouthful transports me to that first introduction,  in a  roadside cafe in Kuala Lumpur. Mee rebus has made me very happy today!