Noodles are one of the pillars of Malaysian cuisine. They’re used in many dishes in many ways; from dry fried noodles, to soups, and even desserts (because Cendol is totally a noodle, right?). Fresh noodles always give best results, and in Malaysia they’re available everywhere. Unfortunately here in the UK, unless you’re lucky enough to live near an asian supermarket, you’re usually dependent on dried noodles for preparing your dishes. However, more and more I’m seeing fresh noodles available in many supermarkets, but have always thought they looked soggy and unappetising. So, I thought I’d set myself a little project and cook with each type of fresh noodle I could find, and report on my results. The first supermarket in my sights was the Marks and Spencer food hall.
All noodles were purchased on day of use to try them at their freshest.
First off we have the Egg Noodles. These are closest to yee mee, the yellow noodles made with egg and wheat. When I opened the packet to inspect I noticed they were rather wet, so I opted to cook them in a Mee Goreng Mamak style. They were ready to use straight from the pack, not clumped together as I was expecting. When stir-frying they remained intact, even at a high heat. I do suspect however that they would begin to break up if I was cooking a dryer dish. The results were certainly edible, although I need to work on the flavour of the sauce. I’d say these noodles work fine for wetter dishes, or a soup based dish such as Curry Laksa.
Next I tried the Pad Thai Noodles. These resemble a thinner-cut Koey Teow, so I opted to cook them in a Char Koey Teow style, as I’m also always trying to perfect my seasoning of this dish. Unfortunately for me the Pad Thai Noodles come pre-seasoned, and it was rather fiddly to wash off all the flavouring and chopped peanuts. However, and despite my rinsing, the noodles were surprisingly springy and kept their shape, even when cooking at high heat as a good Char Koey Teow demands. My wife and I both enjoyed the resulting dish, though I’d much prefer that Marks and Spencer sell a plain version of their noodles.
The final day’s dish was prepared using the Rice Noodles. These are pretty much bee hoon, and were good and springy when I took them out of the pack. I decided to cook Mee Siam in an attempt to perfect my flavour paste – which I think I did! A quick off-topic question; why is the dish called Mee Siam when it uses bee hoon noodles? Anyway, after adding them to the liao, the noodles did break up somewhat with stir frying, but this is not really such a bad thing with a dish like this. They also kept most of their texture which I wasn’t expecting.
In conclusion, the fresh noodles I tried from Marks and Spencer vastly surpassed my expectations. I was expecting them to become soggy mush upon cooking, but all three types kept a good texture. They even impressed my wife who I think was more skeptical than I was! I’d say the Egg Noodles are perfect in a soup or wetter stir fried dish, whilst the Rice Noodles could also go in a soup, but might be too much for stir frying. The Pad Thai Noodles need to be available sans flavouring, and maybe they could also bring out a full Koey Teow version?
This experiment has made me want to try with other supermarket noodles in the future, so expect more reviews coming up.