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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

A master at mee siam

What makes a good mee siam?
The Sunday Times - February 5, 2012
By: Thng Lay Teen
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A master at mee siam -- ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Ask Mr Gan Jin Kiat what makes a good mee siam and his immediate reply is 'fresh ingredients'.

The 50-year-old mee siam seller at the market in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 does not take short cuts. He fries the chilli paste - a blend of fresh and dried chillies as well as other spices - every day.

Equally laborious and time-consuming is the cooking of the udang geragau. The shrimp has to be carefully cleaned and then fried till it is just crispy and fragrant.

And this is why many hawkers do not bother to use it, says Mr Gan, who has been operating Shi Xian for about 20 years. He took over the stall from his mother, who is now in her 80s. He explains that the dried shrimp may be tiny but it plays a big role in perking up the dish.

It is easy to see why his mee siam ($2.50, $3) has a faithful following. At past 8am on a recent weekday morning when I was there, his stall was the only one with a long queue. The gravy, which is not too thick or watery, has a good balance of sweet and tart, and a nice hint of coconut milk which gives it an inviting light colour.

The sprinkling of roasted crushed peanuts lends more body to the tasty gravy, and a generous helping of beansprouts gives the dish that lovely crunch.

But it is the delicious gravy that has drawn me back to the stall many times for more than 20 years.

Mr Gan takes pride in cooking the dish the traditional way. His mother, who used to sell it over 50 years ago, learnt to make it from a Malay friend.

He does a decent mee rebus ($2.50, $3) too, with the gravy thick enough to coat each strand of noodle. The gravy, which is just a tad sweet, is creamy and nice. And I like that he uses a thinner type of noodle, not the fat ones that most hawkers use.

The generous portion ($2.50) is topped with fried dried shrimp, fried tau pok (fried beancurd puff), one hard-boiled egg and, interestingly, one slice of tomato.

SHI XIAN

Block 409, 01-24 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10

Open: 6.30am to noon, closed on Mondays

Rating: ****

 

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