How to Make Mee Hailam

Recipe by Swiss Inn Kuala Lumpur

Most of us know and love Hainanese Chicken Rice but I’d bet good money not many people outside of Malaysia have heard of Hainanese Noodles – what we call Mee Hailam. What little I knew of the Hainanese dialect group growing up in Malaysia was that as migrants from China, many of them used to work as maids in British colonial households.

They wore distinctly Chinese attire – older Chinese women with hair pulled back in a bun in loose, baggy, monochromatic cheong sams is how I remember them.  I didn’t have a lot of interaction with the Hainanese as a kid (it could be the part of Malaysia I hail from); I think one of my sisters-in-law who came from a wealthy family might have had a Hainanese maid in her household.

I was told they would scrimp and save every last cent to send back to their families back in China and refuse to buy new clothes, so much so their old, tired cheong sams’ material would almost glimmer from all the hand scrubbing over the years of washing and wearing the same two outfits.

I’d probably eaten Mee Hailam many times as a kid but had forgotten; it’s a pretty unpretentious dish without a lot of fancy ingredients – it looks like noodles braised in a dark brown gravy. It was one of many dishes we ordered during my trip to Kuala Kangsar back in November  – and I was instantly struck by how incredible the flavours were.

Mee Hailam, Kuala Kangsar

Mee Hailam, Kuala Kangsar

I’d been wanting to learn how to make this ever since, and this time around, People Express Travel were very kind to arrange a mini cooking lesson for me at Swiss Inn Kuala Lumpur with Chef Chan. Here is the video I filmed, followed by the recipe below:

Click here to watch on YouTube.

Ingredients –

2 Tbsp oil

1 tsp garlic

handful choy sum + carrot slices

2 1/2 cups water

1 Tbsp oyster sauce

1/2 Tbsp thick soya sauce (aka thick caramel sauce)

1 tsp chicken stock powder

1 tsp sesame oil

1/2 tsp pepper

200g thin fresh egg noodles

Some chicken slices & prawns (optionally pre-cooked or half-cooked)

1/2 tsp sugar

1 tsp tapioca flour + 3 Tbsps water

Hailam Mee, Swiss Inn

Mee Hailam, Swiss Inn Kuala Lumpur


With Chef Chan of Swiss Inn Kuala Lumpur

With Chef Chan of Swiss Inn Kuala Lumpur

Thanks to General Manager Mr. Rahman, Executive Chef Jasni and Chef Chan of Swiss Inn Kuala Lumpur for your hospitality and thanks to People Express Travel for arranging this session.

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