Everyone has their version of comfort food and mine is a bowl of stir-fried egg noodles.
I grew up and lived most of my life in Singapore and living in Toronto the past few years makes me miss being home. Although I get to lug my kids home with me to visit my family and friends on average once a year for weeks at a stretch, it is difficult for my emotional being to be away for such long periods of time.
So if it’s just homesickness that I have to deal with, it’s not that big a deal, right? I mean, there’s Skype and email and telephone and all the marvelous apps that technology brings to bridge the distance between me and my family and friends. But of all the things about Singapore that I miss, it is the food that I miss the most, and what technology can’t do is bring the food of Singapore to me.
Obviously, my Mom and Grandmother’s cooking will be my top picks, but I really miss the local food. I can’t even read an article about the food of Singapore and not suffer a serious bout of homesickness and hunger pangs just by looking at the photos alone.
Out of the wide array of local dishes, Fried Hokkien Mee is one of my favourites – granted, I have many. I’m not even going to try describing it because you can click here for a description that is more accurate than anything I can ever come up with.
I can’t make the authentic hawker version at home even if I tried. It is just too much effort and with too many hard to source ingredients (by my standards) for a home cooked meal. What I do is buy a packet of fresh, thick-cut egg noodles from the supermarket, throw in a bunch of ingredients into a frying pan, pour in lots of soy sauce as the key flavouring agent, give it all a good stir about and slurp up the entire bowl of comforting noodles and kid myself that what I’m eating is pretty much like the real thing!
I like to use a mix of vegetables in my stir-fry and cook them down until they are soft and well-done; cabbage, bean sprouts and green beans are always good choices. Nothing al dente and crunchy for me; I like the vegetables to meld together with the soft egg noodles. I usually add the trio of ginger, garlic and onion as the flavour base for my noodles but in this instance, I was lazy to chop up so many vegetables and decided to use only garlic; it was still no less delicious. Sometimes, keeping it simple is best. As the finishing touch for my noodle and vegetable stir-fry, I always pour in enough soy sauce to moisten and season everything to my taste.
My noodles may not be a true reflection of Singapore cuisine but they sure remind me of home, and that is what I constantly remind my family as we tuck in.