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Mee pok is a noodle dish with Chinese noodle characterized by its flat and yellow appearance, varying in thickness and width. The dish is of Teochew origin and is commonly served in a number of countries such as Chaoshan (China), Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Mee Pok is commonly served tossed in a sauce (often referred to as "dry", or tah in Hokkien (Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ta)), though sometimes served in a soup (where it is referred to as "soup", or terng). Meat and vegetables are added on top.
Mee pok can be categorised into two variants, fish ball mee pok (yu wan mee pok), and mushroom minced meat mee pok (bak chor mee). Bak chor mee is usually exclusively prepared using thin noodles ("mee kia"), while yu wan mee can be cooked with other noodle varieties.
Mee pok is a staple commonly offered in hawker centres and coffee shops in Singapore, together with other Chinese noodle dishes.
Mee pok sauce
The sauce in which the noodles are tossed in is a very important aspect of the dish, and is considered a representation of the cook's skill and experience. The importance of the sauce in mee pok can be thought of similarly as the sauces that accompany pasta.
The sauce consists of 4 components: chili, oil, vinegar and other condiments such as soy sauce and pepper. The chili is made from various ingredients and its preparation often includes frying and blending. Oil, traditionally lard, ensures a smooth texture in the noodles, although vegetable oil is sometimes used as a healthier though less tasty version. Vinegar is added for its sourness, and diners may specify how much vinegar is used.
The chili sauce may be replaced with tomato ketchup for children, who are uncomfortable with the spiciness of the chili.
Soup is served in a bowl as a side dish accompanying the "dry" variant, or served together with the noodles for the "soup" version where the sauce is omitted.
Mee pok noodles
Usually, the noodles are factory-made, and requires substantial preparation before cooking. Different hawkers prepare and cook their noodles differently, but the desired outcome is the same: springy al dente noodles.
Hawkers often toss the noodles vigorously to remove excess flour and soda and to separate noodles which have stuck together. Other processes include stretching the noodles, cutting into a desired length, and separating into serving portions.
The cooking process of the noodles consists of blanching in hot and cold water multiple times, though some hawkers omit the cold water. The noodles are drained and placed in either sauce or broth.
Bak chor mee
This version of mee pok has no fish but is served with minced meat, pork slices, pork liver (tur kwa), stewed sliced mushrooms, meat balls and bits of deep-fried lard. More traditional hawkers will also place a few small pieces of fried crispy sole fish and Chinese lettuce as garnishing.
Fish ball mee pok
This version of mee pok is usually served with toppings of fish balls, sliced fish cakes, Geow (a type of small dumpling made with fish meat paste wrapping a small bit of minced meat), minced meat, meat balls, lettuce or taugeh (beansprouts in Hokkien). Requests can be made to add or omit any of the above toppings, to prepare it in soup or "dry" style, and with or without the chili sauce.
Other types of toppings
Mee pok in popular culture
- Mee Pok Man is the title of a film directed by Eric Khoo, a Singaporean film director.
- Bak chor mee featured prominently in an episode of The Mr Brown Show, which satirized the James Gomez saga during the 2006 Singapore general elections.