Mee goreng is literally translated as fried noodles from the Malay language. It is alternatively known as Mee Goreng Mamak or the Indian mee goreng where the hawker is usually an ethnic Indian and/or an Indian Muslim.
Despite it being sold mostly by ethnic Indians and/or Indian Muslims, the mee goreng did not originate from India and this particular dish can’t be found there. Mee goreng is a very Malaysianised dish with a list of ingredients that is testament to the rich diverse cultures that influenced the creation of the dish.
It is one dish that is neither Indian, Chinese nor Malay but simply a product of a marriage of all these cultures resulting in something rich, spicy, sweet, sour and decadent.
In Penang, mee goreng is as ubiquitous as the char koay teow and it is a common belief that the mee goreng stalls here sell mee goreng that is absolutely unrivalled.
This could be due to a strong Indian Muslim presence here, particularly since the early days of George Town when they came here to trade.
Unlike standard fried noodles which are brown in colour from the soy sauce, Penang mee goreng takes on a reddish-vermillion hue and is slightly damp.
It may just be a plate of fried noodles but the making of it is almost a science that has been perfected over the years by the hawkers in order to give you a plate of noodles that is a contradiction of flavours which keep you coming back for more.
Penang mee goreng can be stir fried with or without eggs. However, eggs which is stir fried into the noodles do round out the dish and gives it a little more moisture.
Mee goreng consists of slices of fried beancurd, prawn fritters, boiled potatoes, braised squid, eggs, beansprouts and fresh lettuce as garnishing. Of course, no mee goreng is complete without a wedge of lime is squeezed over the noodles and gives the dish a nice balance out the sweetness of its sauces to accentuate all its flavours.
There are variations to the types of mee goreng sold at different stalls. Some are a pale beige colour which means it only uses just a little of the tomato-based sauce so it does not have a thick sweet taste but more of a savoury flavour from the mixture of soy sauces.
Then there are the bright orange-y and deep reddish versions of mee goreng. At one glance, you probably expect it to burn a trail down your throat but do not be deceived by the colour. The reddish tint comes from a special blend of sweet potato-based sauce to give it a rich, sweet taste. These are often called the Mee Sotong (squid noodles) as the noodles will come with a generous serving of braised squids.
What sets Penang Mee Goreng apart from the Mee Goreng that you find in Kuala Lumpur or anywhere else in Malaysia is the secret sauce each vendor uses in stir frying their noodles.
The mee goreng is a plate of yellow noodles fried to a level of deliciousness that you will not want to miss when in Malaysia. Here are few stalls in George Town for you to try out the dish.
Sri Weld food court @ Beach Street (11am-4pm)
Hameed Pata Mee Goreng @ Esplanade Park, Light Street (11am-8pm)
MRN Mamak Mee @ China Street (9am-5pm)
Mee Goreng CRC @ Kedai Makan Seong Huat, Larut Road (11am-4pm)