Kopitiam Noodles (Kon Loh Mee)

These are “dry” noodles. Despite the emphasis on the word “dry” to set it apart from the soup version, the sauce in Kon Loh Mee plays an instrumental part to bind all the good flavors and textures of the different ingredients together.

The sauce is a simple mixture of shallot oil, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and sesame oil. For one serving, start with:

—1/2 tablespoon shallot oil
—1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce
—1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
—1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

Combine the sauce in a bowl, toss the noodles in, taste, and adjust the seasoning according to your preference.

The next step is to pick your noodles. Thin rice noodles (mai fun), flat rice noodles (kuey teow), and yellow egg noodles are the common options at a typical Malaysian hawker stall. Depending on my mood, You can also combine two noodles together in one bowl.

The springy wonton noodles, which fall under the egg noodle category, are a popular choice and available either in thin or wide. Soba noodles, ramen noodles, and even spaghetti noodles are fine too. As a rule of thumb, 2-3 oz (55-85g) of noodles is a good portion for one serving.

Hawker-style Kon Loh Mee is often topped with Chinese barbecued pork, wonton dumplings, meatballs, shrimp or minced meat, just to give you some ideas. If you’re avoiding meat, tofu and tempeh make good toppings here.

There’s also always some kind of Asian leafy greens included, like choy sum, gai lan, or bok choy. The greens are usually just simply blanched. Here’s what you do: Bring a pot of water with a pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, and a small glug of vegetable oil to a rolling boil. Then add the greens. You know they are ready as soon as the water returns to a rolling boil. Remove the greens, drain, and add them to your noodles.

Finally, serve your Kon Loh Mee with a side of chilies. In a pinch, a simple chili soy sauce dip will suffice but if you have the time, pickled green chilies are the way to go.

You can use either jalapeno or serrano for a bit more kick. In a nutshell, the chilies are sliced, deseeded, and pickled in a mixture of white vinegar, salt, and sugar until they turn a lighter shade of green, which takes about 1 to 2 hours, but it’s preferable if you can wait overnight as they get better with time. I have the step-by-step guide for you here.

Oh, and don’t forget to top your noodles with crispy fried shallots from the shallot oil!

Soy Sauce Noodles

3 serrano chilies, seeds removed and sliced into rounds
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying
2 shallots, finely sliced

4-6 baby bok choy
A pinch of sugar
A pinch of salt
A small glug of shallot oil

1 tablespoon shallot oil
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
7 ounces dried wonton noodles, cooked according to package instructions and drained
Fried shallots, for garnish
Preparation

To make pickled green chillies: Blanch the chilies in hot water for about 10 seconds and drain. In a small bowl, combine the white vinegar, salt, and sugar, and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the chilies and set aside to pickle for at least 1 hour.

To make shallot oil: In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and fry until the slices start to turn brown, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and let the shallots continue to fry until they turn a darker brown. Remove shallots from the oil and drain, saving the oil. Allow the oil and fried shallots to cool down.

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the sugar, salt, and shallot oil. Add baby bok choy and bring the water back to a rolling boil. Remove the baby bok choy immediately and drain. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the shallot oil, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and sesame oil. Add the cooked noodles and toss to mix well. Taste the noodles and add more soy sauce if you like the dish saltier.

Divide the noodles into two serving plates and garnish with the reserved fried shallots. Arrange 2 to 3 baby bok choy on the side of each plate. Serve immediately with pickled green chilies on the side.

Notes: While wonton noodles (both thin and wide) are typically used, you can also try it with rice noodles, soba noodles, and even spaghetti noodles.