World Food Spot 10: Pan Mee

My wife and I followed the directions given and we drove some 20 minutes from our home to a less frequented and older section of town which was located more at the periphery of the city. We were on the quest of a special pan mee shop at the recommendation of a blogger friend. Finally we arrived and parked opposite a wet market.

As we walked down the tree lined street, I was immediately taken in by the pleasant ambiance of the neighbourhood. It was busy but yet calm. Businesses were doing business but children ran in and out of the shops laughing and playing. In short, it reminded me of an older Kuala Lumpur; the city as it was in the 1970s when the more sedate village life was still apparent in the big city. Much of that is now lost under the noise and bustle of a modern city rushing about its business.

There was even a lorry, parked and delivering fresh coconuts by the basketful. A sight that is rare in the city these days.

However, I digress. I wanted to share with you about Pan Mee which is most simply described as hand-stretched flat noodles. My wife’s family really loves this dish and I grew to like it very much too. In my wife’s family, making this dish is an opportunity for family bonding as everyone shares in the tasks for preparing the dish. Although there is a dry variety of this dish in which the cooked noodles are tossed with specially seasoned soya sauce mix, we mostly cook the noodles in a broth which is accompanied by fried anchovies, minced pork and fried shallots.

The trick is making the dough and the recipe for the dough is often strongly guarded family secrets. The really fun part is when everyone pinches a small palm full of dough and then flatten it by pinching. The resulting product is supposed to be roughly an elongated oval or similar to the shape of a Pringle potato chip. In reality, you could (and we did) make some more entertaining shapes. When all was ready and the broth was boiling, we would all gather round to slip our dough creations into the cooking pot.

A good pan mee noodle should be firm and yet easy to break and feels smooth in the mouth. It is a fun dish to make and to eat.

Commercially available pan mee is often processed through a noodle making machine which cuts it into long ribbons. The purists would however seek out the hand pinched and pulled version when ever possible.

In this shop we went to, not only were the noodles hand pulled, it was trying for a record in length. You can see that the noodles could be as long as 50 cm and it was both smooth and firm.
My final word to you is “Yummmmmmy!”

All Photos by LGS


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