At her restaurant Morsels, chef Petrina Loh has built a repertoire of nourishing, sharing dishes in her style of innovative Asian Fusion cuisine.
Her food is created with a strong produce-driven focus and utilises some age-old methods like fermentation, curing, as well as an understanding of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Preserving these traditions as well as heritage recipes is important to the chef, who shares a recipe for Heng Hwa Pah Mee passed down from her paternal grandmother.
“Most Heng Hwa families would know this dish,” she says, referring to people hailing from Putian in east Fujian, China. “My paternal grandmother used to cook it on the first day of Chinese New Year and on birthdays. I learnt how to make it from her, verbally, and I wrote the recipe down. She demonstrated the vegetarian version as she became vegan, but told me what the regular version was like.”
Due to the difficulty of finding some of the authentic ingredients for this recipe, Loh does not cook it as often as she would like. For instance, the pah mee used is handmade and difficult to source. As an alternative, Loh sometimes uses the more commercial mee sua. As for ingredients like the red mushroom that her grandmother used to obtain from Putian, Loh now purchases through the Chinese online shopping platform, Taobao.
“I cook Heng Hwa Pah Mee occasionally when I think of my grandmother,” she says.“As both her and my dad are not around anymore, it is nostalgic for me to be able to cook food from my dialect group and preserve those recipes.”
Chef Petrina’s Heng Hwa Pah Mee
1 whole chicken bones
20g old ginger washed skin on rounds
20g spring onion bottom
2pc chicken thigh
1/4c Hua Tiao wine
Pinch white pepper powder
6pc dried shiitake mushroom soaked in hot water overnight, stems separated
3/4c dried red mushroom soaked in hot water overnight, stems separated
20pc lily stem soaked
15g sesame oil
60g cooking oil
30g garlic minced
Pinch Morton’s kosher salt
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1/2cup cooking oil
90g dried pah mee or mee sua
100g chye sim stems and leaves separated and cut into finger length
1.5l blanching water
10g morton’s kosher salt
10g spring onion top
1/2cup roasted peanut
40g Putian specialty wild seaweed (南日岛野生头水紫菜)
200ml cooking oil
- Heat a pot of blanching water, blanch chicken bones.
- In a stock pot, combine 3l of water, chicken bones, spring onion bottoms, old ginger rounds and stems of both mushrooms.
- While stock is boiling, marinate chicken thigh with Hua Tiao wine and 3g salt after cutting into bite size pieces.
- Cook stock for 2-3 hours, strain.
- Bring strained stock to a simmer, add in marinated chicken thigh, keep on low heat. Add in strained mushroom water, cook for about 2 hours on low and slow heat until chicken is tender.
- Peel shallots and slice into rounds, combine shallots and oil in a pot and bring up to low-medium heat, cook till shallot browns. Reserve for later use.
- In a frying pan, combine 60g cooking oil with 15g sesame oil, heat to medium. Add minced garlic, fry till aromatic. Add in lily stem, fry for 2-3min, ladle in 3 tablespoons of stock. Remove and set aside.
- In the same frying pan, add in mushrooms and saute. Add 1/cup of stock and simmer till liquid is dry. Remove mushrooms and set aside.
- Take 1 egg and a pinch of salt, beat until well mixed. In another pan, oil it and make a thin omelette, slice into strips.
- In a wok, fill with 1.5l of water, and 10g of kosher salt, bring to boil.
- When water is boiling in the wok, add in the chye sim stems to blanch first. Cool in ice bath. Continue with chye sim leaves, blanch and cool. Squeeze dry. Set aside for later use. Make sure all vegetable pieces are removed from blanching water.
- When water in wok is boiling, add in pah mee, cook for about 5-8 minutes till al dente. Remove and cool under running water, also to remove any starch.
- Put pah mee in a mixing bowl and toss well with shallot oil and fried shallots. reserve for assembly.
- Roast peanuts in a pan with some oil and salt, or in an oven.
- In a shallow pot, heat 200ml of cooking oil, when oil is about smoking, turn off heat let it cool slightly. fry seaweed till crispy and let it rest on kitchen paper to absorb any oil.
- Slice spring onion tops and cilantro for garnish.
- Remove chicken, and strain soup of any oil and scum.
- To assemble, put pah mee in a bowl and garnish with mushrooms, lily stem, chye sim stems and leaves, sliced egg omelette, chicken, then peanut and seaweed. Garnish with spring onion and cilantro. When serving, heat up soup and pour over.