Welcome to the first official Street Food Monday! The first unofficial street food Monday happened last week with these Hotteok, which are definitely worth a look if you missed them.
From now on, every Monday I’ll be delving into the delicious, sticky, chewy, slurpy, crispy and sometimes dicey world of Street Food, and sharing a recipe that I can’t get enough of with you. This week we’re internet-traveling to Malaysia for a steaming, savoury bowl of Wantan Mee – get excited!
Wantan, wonton, wanton, there are as many different spellings for the word, as there are ways to make and eat this dish. Indeed, the same dish can be totally different depending on which country you’re in. Today, we are in Malaysia.
Wantan Mee in Malaysia can still mean a lot of different things, but from what I’ve read there are a few non-negotiable parts. Firstly, the mee; aka the noodles. Thin, delicate egg noodles tossed in a salty-sweet, black sauce are what the whole dish is based around.
Secondly, obviously, the wantans! My recipe today is for a delicate, aromatic pork wantan. But just as common is a prawn wantan, or a pork AND prawn wantan. The only important point is that you must have wantans.
The next most essential part of the wantan mee experience are the greens. On this item, I think you can use whatever is in season and available to you; I’m sure that’s what the hawkers stalls in Malaysia are doing. I happen to love bok choy and it grows brilliantly in Queensland, so that’s what I’m using!
The final, non-negotiable item on any bowl of wantan mee (as far as I’m concerned) are the pickled chillies. Sweet heaven, those chillies. They are off the charts. Sliced long red chillies, macerated in sugar, salt and rice wine vinegar turn into an absolute flavour bomb, and they’re what makes each mouthful taste as vibrant, bright and exciting as the last.
They add sharpness, sweetness, and heat, and are totally, utterly and completely delicious. And they take about 5 minutes to make. I have made these chillies three times in the last week, because I’m eating them on everything now!
Wantan mee is very often served with char siu pork slices as well. And I won’t lie to you, a little pile of sticky, charred pork would go down a treat. I’ve also seen wantan mee served with braised chicken feet (I’d try it), and often with the wantans served in a bowl soup-style off to the side of the noodles.
This recipe is a totally basic, easy starting point. But you WILL NOT BELIEVE how good it tastes, or how satisfying a meal this is. The sauce on the noodles is magically addictive, the wantans easier than you would ever dream of to make, and those pickled chillies are going to be your new best friend. Try it, I bet you love this!
- 4 long red or green chillies (red are prettier and sweeter)
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- rice vinegar (or just regular old white vinegar) to cover
- ½ pound (250g) minced pork (free-range or organic if you can!)
- 2 scallions, finely sliced
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- pinch of white pepper (optional)
- wonton wrappers (you will need about 20)
- 2 tbsp peanut oil (or any other flavourless oil)
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
- 4 tbsp oyster sauce
- 4 tbsp kecap manis (indonesian sweet soy sauce)
- 14 oz (400g) thin egg noodles (fresh or dried)
- Your choice of greens
- Ideally, make the pickled chillies the day before you want to eat, but they are still delicious if you can only give them an hour or so. To make them, simply slice the chillies into thin rounds, and then mix together with the salt and sugar, and pour over enough vinegar to cover.
- Next, make the wantans. Mix together the pork mince, sliced scallions, ginger, soy and white pepper (if you don't have white pepper, just leave it out). Lay out about 20 wonton wrappers on a clean surface, and place a heaped teaspoon of filling into the centre of each one.
- To fold the wantans, brush two edges of the wrapper with water. Fold one corner of the wrapper over the filling diagonally to make a triangle. Gently push the air out from around the filling, and press the edges to seal. Now, with the longest edge facing you, bring the two corners together, and press them to seal. The wantan will look like it's hugging itself. They don't have to be perfect - the important thing is that the filling gets sealed in.
- To make the sauce, place the oil, and the thin slices of garlic into a small pan. Place over a low heat, and cook until the garlic turns golden brown. Remove the crispy garlic chips and set them aside. Place the now garlic-infused oil into a mixing bowl and add the oyster sauce and kecap manis and mix everything together.
- When you're ready to eat, get a big pot of boiling water on the stove. Add the noodles and cook as per the instructions on the packet. Remove the noodles from the boiling water and place them into the mixing bowl with the sauce. Add the wantans and your chosen greens to the boiling water - once they float to the surface, they need about 2 minutes to cook through, but cut one open if you're not sure. When the greens and wantans are ready, toss the noodles with the sauce and divide between four bowls. Top each bowl with some greens, some wantans, a sprinkle of pickled chillies, and some of those crispy garlic chips. Add more pickled chillies as you eat, and ENJOY!