The signature dish of the Henghua community is usually cooked on special occasions like Chinese New Year, birthday meal for the elders or wedding lunch.
Savoury Henghua noodles that will get you excited
PA Mee, a signature dish of the Henghua community, is usually cooked on special occasions like the Chinese New Year, birthday meal for the elders or wedding lunch, especially when a large group of family members get together.
The noodles is usually eaten for breakfast or lunch on the first day of the Chinese New Year.
Pa Mee symbolises longevity as the noodles are long in length. They are much thicker in size than other types of noodles like the Mee Kolok or Kampua Mee.
Traditionally, daughters and daughters-in-law (even if the latter are from other dialect groups) are expected to acquire the cooking skill for this special delicacy from their mothers or mothers-in-law, to ensure that the recipe is passed on from one generation to another.
This dish is among the most nutritious as it involves a wide variety of ingredients, including vegetables, eggs, meat, fish and other seafoods. As the cooking process can be quite time consuming, it is therefore rarely cooked as a normal meal on ordinary days.
However, times have changed. These days, Pa Mee is commercially available at food stalls and food courts throughout the year, although it may differ from the home-cooked version in terms of flavour and taste because the commercial version may not contain all the ingredients as in the authentic home-cooked recipe.
Like I said earlier, times have changed; the Pa Mee is no longer the sole domain of the Henghua community. It is now becoming popular even among other dialect groups as well as non-Chinese, who could be seen patronising the Pa Mee stalls in Kuching.
The broth for the noodles is usually made from the meat bones or rib bones and has to be boiled for hours to enhance its flavour. Chicken soup may also be used.
Among the main ingredients are meat such as pork belly or lean pork, freshly prepared meatballs and fish balls, prawns (with shelled removed), mushrooms, green leafy vegetables or cabbages.
A distinctive topping for Pa Mee includes deep-fried shredded seaweed, shredded fried eggs and fried whole peanuts or cashew nuts. The latter are available only during Chinese New Year.
Apart from the soup version, Pa Mee can also be served dry — like the Mee Kolok.
The same ingredients and cooking style for Pa Mee can also be applied to cook Henghua Bihun (rice vermicelli), Henghua Mee Sua (thin wheat noodles) or Kway Teow, both soup and dry versions — and they are equally tasty and delicious.
For Buddhists or Taoists observing vegetarian diets on the first and 15th day of the lunar calendar, the Pa Mee can also be cooked in vegetarian style, minus the meat and seafoods.
The soup can be prepared by using mushroom, potatoes, cabbage or with vegetarian ‘meat’ (made from gluten) to enhance its flavour.
If you have not tasted the Henghua Pa Mee, then look out for the stalls at some of the food courts around the city to get a taste of it. It can be found at Galacity Food court, i-Com Square, Meng Kui Café at Padungan and Nine Plus Nine Café at Lorong Lapangan Terbang 2.