Sang har mee, or sang har mein (noodles) as it is also known as, is a favourite delicacy amongst seafood enthusiasts. Featuring large, beautiful prawns atop a bed of crispy fried noodles drenched with eggy sauce, this dish is, admittedly, not one of the cheaper options on most restaurant menus. The freshwater prawns (aka sang har) used in this dish is what you’re really paying for, as these prawns are not always available in your standard supermarket or market.
So, why are we sharing with you a recipe requiring difficult ingredients? There are a few reasons for that. One, you can get your hands on these prawns in Sabah or Perak. It requires a bit effort, but it’s worth it. Two, while sang har mee is typically served in seafood restaurants, not all of them are Halal or pork-free. This is one way to get your sang har noodles without any worries. Finally, considering how much restaurants charge for this dish, you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck if you make it at home, because besides the freshwater prawns, the rest of the ingredients are very affordable and readily available. You probably have them in your pantry already.
Most sang har mee dishes are served with the noodles swimming in a super starchy (but very tasty) eggy sauce, while some restaurants specialize in a drier variety. The recipe we’re sharing with you has a tasty sauce that wets your noodles but doesn’t completely drench it. Lim Soo Keat makes this at home and was incredibly generous to share his recipe and make it for us! We couldn’t believe now delicious and simple it was. You’re going to be gobsmacked.
- 800g sang har (also known as freshwater prawns or lobster, or udang galah, about 8 large prawns)
- 400g yee mein (fried noodles)
- 14g garlic, peeled
- 16g sesame oil
- 14g msg-free chicken stock cube
- 25 litres hot water
- 3g corn flour
- 100ml water
- 2 eggs
- 1g ground black pepper
- 2-3 iceberg lettuce leaves
- Dissolve chicken stock cube in hot water.
- Rinse prawns for a few seconds under running water.
- Cut off the tip of the prawn head from right behind the eyes. Also cut off claws, swimming and walking legs, and sword. Do not remove the entire head or peel the prawns, you will want the skin to remain on.
- Lay prawn on its ‘belly’ and use a sharp knife to cut through the top of the shell, from head to tail and about halfway through the flesh to remove and discard intestine.
- Mince garlic.
- Wash lettuce leaves and cut them into neat squares. If you prefer more greens, you can use one lettuce leaf per plate, but cut the part that curves to the stem so your lettuce leaf can lay flat.
Cooking sang har mee
- Set out two large woks or pots. The one you’re using for cooking your prawns will need a cover.
- Heat one wok on low heat. Add sesame oil and minced garlic. You don’t need to wait for the wok to get hot.
- Once the oil and garlic starts to sizzle, fry for about 20 to 30 seconds until aromatic.
- Before the garlic browns, arrange prawns in the wok. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but make sure the prawns are evenly laid out.
- After 1 minute and the prawn skin has just turned pink, flip the prawn to cook the other side.
- After another minute, add 100ml of dissolved chicken stock. Cover and bring to a simmer for 1 minute.
- Flip the prawns once again to make sure it’s evenly cooked. Cover and let it cook for 1 more minute.
- Remove cover and add 950ml chicken stock. Let it come to a boil, flipping the prawns as the gravy comes to a boil.
- Turn off heat.
- Put your second wok or pot on high heat and carefully transfer half the liquids used for cooking the prawns to the pot. For safety, use a ladle!
- Keep prawns and the rest of the liquids covered.
- Add yee mein and the rest of the chicken stock to the second pot. Stir noodles gently until softened or al dente.
- Turn the heat off then line your dinner plates with a lettuce leaf. Equally divide noodles onto each plate.
Preparing the gravy
- Transfer prawns to a plate or bowl.
- Mix corn flour with 100ml water.
- Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk it lightly.
- Turn the heat back on the first wok (with the gravy still remaining) on high heat and bring it to a boil.
- Add corn starch and stir through.
- Turn the heat off and add whisked eggs. Use a fork to lightly ‘scramble’ the eggs into the sauce until it thickens and you get thin ribbons of eggs, for about 30 seconds.
- Pour the gravy over the plated noodles with ladle. Add one cooked prawn and sprinkle a little bit of pepper over the gravy.
- Serve while still hot. However, before you eat, separate the prawn head and use a small spoon to dig out the hepatopancreas (orangey innards contained in the prawn head, also known as tomalley in lobsters) and spread it onto the gravy. Mix the noodles to combine the gravy and hepatopancreas thoroughly, then, dig in!
- This dish is served individually, so get your dinner plates ready.
- Estimate at least 1 prawn per person, but a little extra is always a good idea.
- The best sang har are wild freshwater prawns from the Danum river in Sabah. The heads contain a lot of hepatopancreas, making this dish extra tasty. Alternatively, you can also find a similar variety in Ipoh seafood markets. If you’re having some difficulty getting your hands on some sang har, look for juicy freshwater prawns with really big heads filled with hepatopancreas.
- Hepatopancreas isn’t roe. Nope, not at all, even if many Asian restaurants and recipes refer to that gunky orange innards contained within prawn heads (that tastes oh so good!) as roe. Instead, hepatopancreas is very similar to tomalley in lobsters. Both male and female prawns have them, and they definitely don’t turn into baby prawns.
- You can also use your own or boxed liquid chicken stock. However, the flavour may vary. If your stock has zero salt, add 12g of soy sauce during step 23 to give the sauce sufficient flavour. However, add just a little at a time to ensure it doesn’t get too salty for your tastes.
- For a guide on peeling prawns, check out our tips in Peel Prawns like a Pro!
- Sang har mee is a one meal dish. You don’t really need to serve it with anything else!
How’s your sang har mee? Good? If you enjoyed this recipe, head over to Keat’s Instagram account @zhukong and thank him!