Penang har mee

Penang har mee

Prawn noodle soup

Have You Eaten
Billy Law

Har mee literally means ‘prawn noodles’ in the Hokkien dialect of Chinese. It is another specialty from Fujian province in China that has been made famous in Penang, Malaysia. This is a great alternative for those who don’t like their food too hot (like the laksa), and you can adjust the heat level by adding more or less of the dried chilli paste into the stock.


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
200g frozen prawn heads, (see tip)
300g cooked fresh prawns, peeled and deveined, reserving the heads with the rest
2 litres water
200g pork loin medallion
450g packet fresh hokkien egg noodles
200g packet dried rice vermicelli, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
1 bunch kangkong, washed and cut into 5 cm lengths
2-3 hard-boiled eggs, halved

Dried chilli paste

Quantity Ingredient
30g dried red chillies, seeded then soaked in hot water for 30 minutes to soften
180g french shallots, peeled
20 dried shrimp, soaked in water for 10 minutes then drained
5 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons water
125ml vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt


  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok and fry the garlic and ginger for 1 minute until fragrant, then add the prawn heads and cook until they turn pink and lightly browned. Pour in 250 ml water to deglaze the wok, then tip all the cooked prawn heads and the juice into a food processor. Process into a rough purée.
  2. Fill a large stockpot with 2 litres water, add the prawn purée and bring to the boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium, then cook the pork loin in the stock for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool, then slice into thin strips.
  3. Continue to simmer the stock for another 45 minutes over low heat, then strain it into another pot through a fine sieve, discarding the solids. Season to taste, and keep the stock warm on a very low heat.
  4. Meanwhile, to make the chilli paste, put the chillies, shallots, dried shrimp, garlic and water in a food processor and process to a fine paste. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over medium heat, and fry the chilli paste for about 10 minutes, or until it is fragrant and turns a darker brown. Season with the sugar and salt, then remove from the heat and pour into a bowl to cool. Add 2 tablespoons of the chilli paste to the prawn stock, reserving the rest to use as a condiment for serving.
  5. Fill another pot with water and bring to a vigorous rolling boil. For each serve, put about 80 g hokkien noodles, 50 g rice vermicelli and a handful of kangkong in a wire mesh sieve, then dunk it into the water and scald the noodles for 30 seconds. Drain and shake off any excess water, then transfer into a serving bowl. Top with a couple of prawns, some slices of pork and half an egg, then ladle the hot prawn stock over the top. Serve with extra chilli paste, to add to the soup as desired.


  • To prepare a prawn stock that has the rich depth of flavour needed for this dish, it’s a good idea to start saving raw prawn heads every time you cook a prawn dish, and keep them in the freezer in a zip-lock bag.
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