Vegan Mee Rebus

July  8, 2021
1 Ratings
Photo by WoonHeng Chia
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

In Malay, mee rebus translates to boiled or blanched noodles. While the name may seem simple, the taste is multidimensional—yellow noodles drenched in a spicy, tangy sweet potato gravy. It’s just perfect for lunch or dinner. Garlic and shallots are blended into a fine paste, then sizzled with lemongrass to deepen the flavors. Although some recipes call for the making of your own curry paste, I opt for curry powder—the yellow one, to be exact—to save time. Ketchup adds tang, while fermented bean sauce (taucu or doubanjiang) brings an umami savoriness. Traditionally, this is not a vegan dish, as some cooks use belacan (shrimp paste) in the gravy and top the noodles with a hard-boiled egg. Other common pairings include fried tofu, fritters (I used youtiao, the Chinese crullers), herbs and greenery (like cilantro and scallions), fresh chiles, and crispy shallots. While I love to finish it off with a squeeze of calamansi juice at home, I’m using lime instead here. Note: You can find youtiao in the freezer section at any well stocked Asian market. To warm it up, I like to cut the cruller in pieces, then toast at 375°F for 3 to 5 minutes. —WoonHeng Chia

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped (about 2 medium)
  • 5 ounces shallots, peeled and finely chopped (about 2 large)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 5 slices galangal
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, bruised
  • 2 tablespoons mild yellow curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon fermented bean paste (taucu or doubanjiang)
  • 2 palm sugar rounds (15 grams each)
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable umami seasoning or yondu
  • teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoons mushroom seasoning (such as Po Lo Ku)
  • 1 pound mung bean sprouts, cleaned
  • 2 pounds fresh yellow noodles
  • Toppings
  • 8 ounces fried tofu cubes (I used store-bought), seasoned with salt
  • 1 youtiao (Chinese cruller, see Author Notes), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Red or green jalapeño slices
  • Fried shallots
  • Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Chopped scallion
  • Lime wedges
  1. To make the gravy, place the sweet potatoes in a 1½-quart pot. Add enough water to cover the potatoes and bring it to a boil. Cook the potatoes until fork-tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Set a colander or sieve over a heatproof measuring cup, then drain the potatoes, reserving the water in the measuring cup. Note the amount. Mash the potatoes into a fine paste.
  2. Place the shallot, garlic, galangal, and ginger in a high-speed blender. Blend into a fine paste, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of water if needed.
  3. Heat a large wok over medium-low heat. Add the oil, then slowly pour in the spice paste and add the lemongrass stalk. Cook the paste until it's aromatic and starts to dry up, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the curry powder and fermented bean paste. Add the sweet potato blanching liquid from above, plus enough water to get 7 cups of liquid total (so, if you had 4 cups of blanching liquid, you’d add 3 cups of water). Add the mashed sweet potatoes and increase the heat to high. Stir in the palm sugar, ketchup, Yondu, salt, and mushroom seasoning. Cook the mixture until the flavors meld and the sugar has dissolved, 8 to 12 minutes. Taste and season accordingly. Remove the lemongrass stalk. (Note: If you’d like a smoother gravy, at this point you can transfer the mixture to a high-speed blender and blend.)
  5. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Blanch the mung bean sprouts for 2 to 3 minutes, until they are as crisp as you like, and use a slotted spoon to transfer to a bowl. Now, using the same water, cook the noodles according to the package instructions, then strain and rinse.
  6. Divide the noodles between 4 bowls and ladle the hot gravy on top. Top with the mung bean sprouts, tofu, cruller, jalapeño, shallots, cilantro, and scallions. Serve right away with a squeeze of lime juice

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