Pan Mee (板面) is a popular Hakka noodle dish in Malaysia, especially in central and southern part of Malaysia where most Hakka people reside. Hakka Pan Mee is made with a simple flour-based dough, with anchovy broth, and topped with crispy fried anchovies, ground pork, shiitake mushrooms, and some vegetables. Pan Mee is also known as Mee Hoon Kuih (面粉糕), which is commonly prepared at home.
I will be honest, before I develop this Pan Mee recipe here, I have had Pan Mee once. Yes, once, some twenty years ago while I was visiting Kuala Lumpur. While I was growing up in Penang, Pan Mee was never sold in the hawker centers or street food stalls, so it has never been in my culinary dictionary.
Anyway, what prompted me to develop a recipe for Pan Mee? Well, it all started with a HUGE bunch of mani cai (马尼菜), or cekur manis/sayur manis in Malay. Mani cai, my favorite vegetable and a key ingredient of Pan Mee, is not available in the United States. The vegetable is not grown here and thus it’s one of those things that I could never get in the US. My friend Eddie grows his own plant, and gave me a big batch of his harvest. I promised him I would make Pan Mee.
I reached out to my friend Anna and she taught me how to make pan mee. It was a success and Anna, who used to live in Pan Mee paradise of KL, gave me her thumbs up. I invited a couple friends over to my house to taste my Pan Mee and they all gave me their rave reviews. I, for one, who have never been a fan of Pan Mee, is now a converted fan. I finally understand why so many people love Pan Mee. It is a Hakka comfort food in a bowl—nothing flashy or glamorous about this dish, but it is tasty and very satisfying.
If you are of Hakka descent and far away from Malaysia, I hope my Pan Mee recipe could bring the tastes of home to wherever you are. Happy cooking!