Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Food - Sarikei Mee Suah

11 May 2009, Borneo Post.
Sarikei mee suah featured.

Sarikei Mee Suah Drying 2008
View from Century Road
Source: Nelson Yap

Denizens of Sarikei hang out laundry to dry but this corner terrace house (No. 39 Bindang Road; Tel: +6 084 653021) at the junction of Bindang Road and Century Road has other ideas. They hang their home made Foochow shou mian 壽面 or mee suah 面線 in Hokkien (thread noodles) to dry.

Sarikei Mee Suah Maker, 2009
Mee Suah is made in the kitchen behind

Singapore has the Mee Pok Man movie but we have our own mee suah man. He learned the trade from his father who in turn learned it from his grandpa. His eloquent daughter has decided not continue in this line and is now working in Kota Kinabalu. I don't blame her as the process of making mee suah from wheat flour starts at 2am. I skipped the opportunity to capture pictures of the process due to the unearthly hours though they welcomed me. They can make 60 kg a day.

Sarikei Mee Suah drying props, 2009
Find the holes for inserting the sticks
Century Road on Right
Tail end of Hua Tai Road in background

The mee suah is sold at MYR$13 per kg (dried) and MYR$9 (undried). It comes in unsalted or salted versions. You can buy directly from their house. Demand exceeds supply so they would rather you dry the noodles yourself because it's labour intensive. If the noodles get caught in the rain, they have to be discarded. Sticks are stuck into the holes of the stand and the noodles are hanged on the sticks for drying. The noodles have to be hanged meticulously to avoid breaking the strands and to prevent the strands from sticking together. The noodles are sun dried for about 1 hour with a little moisture left for easy handling.

Sarikei Mee Suah, 2007 (left)

Sarikei Mee Suah, 2007

Sarikei Mee Suah, 2007

The process to make mee suah is tedious. A machine is used to make the unleavened dough from wheat flour and water. The dough is allowed to rest for 1 hour. The dough is then kneaded to make smaller portions and then cut into lengths that can stretch from one stick to another for drying.

Sarawakiana has a great post on this.

Sarikei Mee Suah in Chicken Broth
Source: Pierre Lau

Mee suah is an auspicious dish in many Sarikei Chinese family functions like Chinese New Year due to the implications of longevity. Now it's found in coffeshops. Prepare some good soup like red wine chicken broth or bek tin (bak cheng or eight treasures) soup. Then pour boiling water over the mee suah and drain the water after 5 minutes. Dump the drained mee suah into the piping hot soup and you will be in business.

Sarikei Mee Suah in Black Chicken Bek Ting Soup, 2009

Now please stay clear while I slurp in the loooong noooodle. *Slurp*!


Nelson said...

mee suah soup becomes superb when you crush the yolk of the boiled egg in the nectar and stir 'em thoroughly, of course dont forget to add in chinese red wine. slurpy!

sjen`Qilin said...

ohh... mien sien is actually a foochow food.. i tot all chinese have this food for celebration like birthday, cny, etc etc.. no wonder when i told my kl frens about eating mien sien on cny for longetivity.. they gave me a weird look..

nowadays they even have this mien sien in packet but the taste is really horrible.. the texture is hard, taste horrible.. the Lau's mien sien is truly the best..

Ivy said...

Ha, I thought I was the only person to eat my meesua soup by crushing the boiled yolk in the soup, Nelson.. it is so good, right?

Nelson said...

ivy, you are not alone. =) it's darn nice.

sjen, my west malaysian friends too, they only eat mee sua when they fall sick but i told them in sarawak, mee suah is like DA BIG THING. i pity them sometimes.

jg said...

love the mee suah! Muah! :D

sarawakiana said...

It is a good frugal practice for many families to buy just the "mien tou" (the bigger and fatter ends or trimmings) at a lower price or a small bit of the mien mui or thinner ends of the long mien sien/mee sua.

These heads and tails cost less. I wonder if this is still a good practice in Sarikei.

In Miri you cannot get them. I went back to Sibu recently and bought one packet of Mien Tou for 4.50!! Happiness! It is good for my cangkok manis fried mee sua.

Philip said...

Got any Sarikeians in Ipoh who travel frequently back to home town. May need your favour to get me some of the MS!

hun said...

Sarikei Mee Suah in Black Chicken Bek Ting Soup, 2009 --eat mee suah with black pork bek ting soup and kicap will taste better .

Rose said...

I am surprised you can't get Shou Mian in Miri. Here in UK you can get it in any Chinese Supermarkets. As a tradition, I still cook Shou Mian with chicken Bek Ting soup for the family to celebrate a birthday. Everyone loves it especially children.

Cynthia said...

Surprise that only by today i found this page of yours... it's been long to eat Bek Ting mee suah...very rare to get anywhere... lol... even if i cooked, i wonder who will eat with me in miri, since everyone said it's heaty, as if lah will cause terrible high pressure..nguek nguek...thanks anyway to bring olden days memories...

Tuan Lokong said...

Best Mee Suah is still behind New CIMB our friend at the corner Coffee Shop...wow always finish before 10 o'clock ma....

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