THINK of a spicy sweet potato soup and you have the key to the gravy for vegetarian mee rebus.
I had to turn out vegetarian concoctions of hawker fare for my brother who was suffering from cancer some years ago and mee rebus was one of them.
The vegetarian version turned out to be sweet, savoury and full tasting, despite not being made with a beef stock nor with belacan, both found in the old recipe.
Not only that, it does not take long to turn out.
You need a chopper to turn out the spice paste that flavours the gravy while a hand-held blender will help liquidize it into a smooth silky mess.
Omitting the belacan is not a problem either.
If belacan is considered as a sort of stock cube that flavours a dish, a good vegetable stock would do as well. Besides, the chilli, turmeric, galangal and garlic also found in the recipe all contribute their flavours to the pot, not forgetting the sweet potato.
Indeed mee rebus is an excellent candidate for turning vegetarian especially as the traditional recipe already has tau pok or tau kwa as a topping, making it a balanced dish.
So try it and you will get a hawker favourite that is as delicious AND healthy, too!
Vegetarian mee rebus (For 5-6)
- 10 dried chillies, softened in hot water
- 1cup shallots, peeled
- 5-6 slices fresh galangal or 1Tbs galangal powder
- 1 thumb-sized knob turmeric or 1tsp turmeric powder
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2Tbs tau cheow or brown soya bean paste
- 2 sweet potatoes, about 500 g
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 10 cups of water
- 1Tbs sugar
- Salt to taste
- 500 g Hokkien yellow noodles
- 300 g bean sprouts
- 3 hardboiled eggs, halved
- 5-6 pieces tau pok or fried tofu puffs
- Fried shallots
- Green chillies, sliced
- Small limes, halved
- 1 small bunch Chinese celery leaves, chopped roughly
- Place ingredients for spice paste in a chopper and process till fine. You can do this ahead of time.
- On the day itself, peel sweet potato and cut into cubes. Cut the tofu puffs into small squares and hard-boil the eggs.
- Heat 1Tbs oil in a pot and sauté spice paste over a medium fire till fragrant and softened. Add sweet potato, toss, then add the stock cube and water. Cook gently till sweet potato is tender.
- Using a handheld blender, blend to obtain a soft silky gravy. Sweeten with sugar and/or salt to taste. Add more water if you prefer it thinner.
- Blanch noodles and bean sprouts and divide among five or six bowls. Pour over gravy and garnish with tau pok, fried shallots, Chinese celery, green chilli, and if liked, hardboiled egg. Offer some lime halves as well.