What is claypot noodle soup from West Malaysia?
Traditionally clay pots were soaked in water, food placed inside them and then heated to cook the food. The process uses no fat, and due to the steaming process the food retains a lot of its nutrients.
This technique dates back to Roman times, and is still used throughout Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
What are the ingredients to claypot noodles?
Basically, anything. It’s essentially a mix of vegetables, stock, meat (optional), and noodles. All cooked within a claypot (cough, cough, more later)
Depending on the restaurant you go to, the chances are they will have their own variation. Ranging from Fishhead claypot to beef claypot.
Claypot noodles in West Malaysia
Expensive tourist restaurants, I try to avoid. Down a few side streets at the edge of the touristy district I found some Chinese Malaysian hawkers selling Claypot noodle. On one side were claypots covered in foil sitting over hot coals, on the other … well, just a sign.
I asked the price where the claypots were simmering. 15 ringgit, which is about USD $5.
Tempted, my instinct told me to move to the other store where the unseen claypot noodle dish was 4 ringgit USD$1.35.
At that price: I ordered immediately.
Claypot noodles vs Plastic-pot noodles
I watched as the cook took a bright pink plastic bowl, and filled it with the contents from a huge metal pot. Some yellow noodles were tossed around before also being put into my bowl followed by some fresh green leaves.
During all this I noticed the stall next door topping up empty claypots from the same huge metal pot. Ah ha!
“Same, same,” I said to my hawker cook as my plastic bowl was presented to me.
He looked at me pointing to claypot stall next door, then at my bowl. A wry smile appeared and he confessed a nod.
How did my plastic-pot noodle taste?
Incredibly good! There was a mix of ground pork meat, shredded chicken, and several fish balls. The vegetables were green beans, chili, bean sprouts, green leaf and huge dried mushrooms (really good). Add to this some firm egg flavored noodles soaking up the fresh light lemon grass infused soup, and it was hard to complain.
The old tourist food game
Make it look authentic and people will pay more. Last year there was a scandal over high-end French restaurants using ready-made food (The telegraph) for expensive dishes. Does anyone not think that local hawkers in tourist centers would do the same to reduce costs, and maximize profits too?
And, quite honestly, very few people will ever know the difference. Unless that is they see the food being prepared in front of them.
Which is better claypot noodles or plastic pot noodles?
Does it taste good, did you enjoy how it was presented? Sometimes it’s better not to think about these things when traveling. I’ve tried both.
Food taps into such feelings as visual pleasure, mental expectation, taste delivery, eating environment and physical experience.
In this case both food dishes were the same, just presented differently. Go for what’s important and enjoyable to you.
For me, I enjoyed the plastic-pot noodles experience!
This is an additional post and one of a series highlighting Food in West Malaysia