How to make this easy, soy sauce-braised noodles, Mee Hailam or Hainanese Noodles.
Mee Hailam (Hailam Noodles / Hainanese Noodles) is a classic Singapore and Malaysian noodle dish of noodles braised in dark soy sauce. The resulting dish is a saucy, silky smooth plate of noodles that is delicious and done in just 15 minutes!
Mee refers to noodles, while Hailam is basically the Malay word for the people of Hainan. Much like Hainanese Chicken Rice, this dish is a product of Hainanese immigrants in Malaysia – I doubt you’d be able to straight up order “Mee Hailam” in China!
What Noodles to Use for Mee Hailam?
Hokkien noodles or yellow wheat noodles are the typical noodles used for Mee Hailam. I would always advocate to use the fresh noodles which tend to be more springy than the dry versions. Of course, you can use dry ones as well. Prepare the dry ones according to packet instructions before adding it to the dish.
Other Asian noodles such as rice noodles and ramen noodles work for this dish as well.
Key Ingredients in Mee Hailam
Mee Hailam has the trifecta seasoning of Chinese stir fries: Oyster Sauce, Light Soy Sauce and Dark Soy Sauce – all very common pantry ingredients in any Asian pantry.
The most important ingredient here is Dark Soy Sauce, which not only adds a sweet-savoury flavour to the dish, but gives the noodles that attractive dark colour. In Malaysia and Singapore, Kicap Manis or Dark Sweet Soy Sauce is often used. While I specified using 3 tablespoons of the sauce in this recipe, the final amount is typically ‘eyeballed’ to get a nice, dark shade! Always feel free to adjust according to your preference.
You can use Chinese-style Dark Soy Sauce as well, which tends to be slightly more liquid and not as sweet as kicap manis. It will still work fine for this. If you can find caramel dark soy sauce, which has a thicker consistency, that would work closer to kicap manis, but again, dark soy sauce works fine here as well.
Some recipes would include dried chilli paste – a quintessential Malay ingredient – but the true version of it do not include the ingredient. You can include it if you like some spice. Simply add it as a first ingredient, and stir fry until the oil splits before continuing the rest of the recipe.
What Proteins to Use for Mee Hailam?
I used seafood here, because seafood cooks and preps quickly in addition to being tasty.
Other proteins to use include chicken slices and chunks of beef. If using meats such as these, you want to cook them through before adding the vegetables.
With seafood, there is no need to cook it through at the beginning stage – in fact it is not encouraged or else you might end up with overcooked, rubbery seafood.
What Vegetables to Use?
You can use any vegetables of choice! In today’s recipe I used Chye Sim, baby corn and red chillies – I like using a variety to add pops of colour and texture to the dish. With Chye Sim, I like to chop it in half, and separate the harder stem from the leafy tops. This is optional, but I like to do this so I can let the harder stems cook a little more.
Other favourites include carrots, bok choy and cabbages.
What is Mee Hailam served with?
Mee Hailam is commonly served with Pickled Green Chillies. The tangy, mildly spicy condiment is a refreshing contrast against the sweet-savouriness of Mee Hailam.
I have an easy recipe for it here.
More recipes like this:
- Singapore Hokkien Noodles
- Seafood Mee Goreng
- Char Kway Teow
- Singapore Hor Fun Noodles
- Beef Hor Fun / Chow Fun Noodles
Mee Hailam | Soy Sauce Braised Hainanese NoodlesCourse: Recipes
1 packet or 450g fresh Hokkien Noodles
1/2 Onion or 2 tbsps chopped onions
1-inch Ginger, sliced or 1 tsp minced ginger
2-3 cloves Garlic, chopped or 2 tsps minced garlic
300g Proteins of Choice:
– 100g Fishcakes or Fishballs, sliced
– 100g Squid, sliced
– 100 g Prawns, deshelled and deveined)
4-5 stalks of Chye Sim (or your favourite leafy vegetables)
2 Red Chillies, sliced
3-4 Baby Corn
2 tbsps Oyster Sauce
3 tbsps Dark Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
1/2 tsp White Pepper
2 cups Water
1/2 Chicken Stock Cube
Cornstarch slurry (2 tbsps cornstarch + 1/2 water)
- Serve With
- Add oil to pan and allow to heat over medium to high heat. Once hot, toss in onions, minced ginger and garlic. Stir fry until fragrant.
- Once fragrant, toss in the seafood and stir briefly to combine. Toss in the baby corn, Chye Sim stems and red chillies next. Stir fry to incorporate.
- Add the oyster sauce, dark soy sauce and light soy sauce. Pour in water and crumble in the chicken stock cube. Add white pepper as well. Option to use ready-made chicken stock here, season with salt to taste if using unsalted stock.
- Stir to combine to one dark soupy sauce. Allow the mixture to come to a bubbly boil.
- Once boiling, add noodles and the leafy vegetables. Toss through to combine.
- Gradually add cornstarch slurry in to thicken the sauce. Continuously toss the noodles in the sauce, until sauce thickens to a gravy consistency.
- Garnish noodles with fried shallots and spring onions. Serve with a side of pickled green chillies!