Warm the cockles of your loved ones' hearts with a steaming hot bowl of oyster mee suah (wheat vermicelli).
Those who are not fans of raw oysters may find the molluscs more palatable here as they will be cooked.
For the mee suah, it is important to boil it separately and not cook it with the gravy. Another tip I picked up from my late maternal grandmother is to fill a third of the serving bowl with hot gravy and add the cooked mee suah before topping it off with more gravy.
Putting the mee suah in the bowl first and then adding the gravy causes the strands to stick together and turn into a ball of mush.
As mee suah is mostly tasteless, the key to this dish is a robust gravy. I use large pork bones as they lend a gelatinous texture to the stock. For extra flavour, I add dried oysters, dried kelp and bonito flakes.
To achieve a thick consistency for the gravy, I use a mix of tapioca starch and corn starch. I find that gravy thickened with tapioca starch maintains its viscosity for a longer period than corn starch, especially if you are preparing the gravy way ahead of time.
If you like your gravy more viscous, mix more flour and water, and stir the mixture into the gravy. Do this gradually to get the preferred viscosity. As I prefer a darker sheen, I add a touch of dark soya sauce.
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OYSTER MEE SUAH
2 large pork bones, cracked
4 litres of water
6 dried oysters
3 garlic cloves
20g crushed ginger
1 piece of dried kelp (4cm by 6cm)
2 whole chicken legs, skin removed 5g bonito flakes 2-3 Tbs light soya sauce
1 tsp dark soya sauce
1 Tbs oyster sauce
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
4 Tbs of tapioca starch
2 Tbs corn starch
300g mee suah (wheat vermicelli)
10g ginger, julienned
2 tsp of black rice vinegar
4g coriander sprigs
1 stalk of spring onion, sliced
1. Blanch the pork bones in hot water until there is no blood visible. Rinse.
2. Bring 3.8 litres of water to a boil in a pot. Put in the pork bones, dried oysters, garlic cloves, ginger and kelp. Boil over medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes. Simmer for 60 minutes. Add more water if necessary. The water should cover the pork bones.
3. Blanch the chicken legs and add them to the stock. Boil for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside.
4. Add the bonito flakes to the stock and boil for 10 minutes.
5. Turn off the heat. Filter the stock. Add the boiled dried oysters back into the filtered stock. Discard the other ingredients. Bring the stock to a boil.
6. Add the light soya sauce, dark soya sauce, oyster sauce, salt and sugar. Taste and adjust to your preference.
7. In a bowl, add the tapioca starch, corn starch and 150ml of water. Mix until the starch is dissolved, then add this mixture to the stock. Stir well. This will be the gravy for the mee suah.
8. Debone the cooked chicken legs and shred the meat. Set aside.
9. In a separate pot, boil enough water to cover the mee suah. Cook for two to three minutes. In the meantime, place the oysters in the simmering gravy to cook.
10. Fill a third of the serving bowl with the hot gravy. Remove the mee suah from the water and add it to the serving bowl. Add more gravy to cover the mee suah.
11. Arrange the oysters, shredded chicken and julienned ginger over the mee suah. Add two or three drops of black rice vinegar. Garnish with coriander and spring onions.
12. Serve immediately.