By Wilfred Pilo
KUCHING, June 25: A bowl of savoury and succulent Kolo Mee will surely make your day!
A culinary pride of Sarawakians, this delicacy is not only the signature dish of Kuching but it is the “Mother of all noodle dishes” in Sarawak.
Over the years, it has gone beyond the shores of Kuching and put Sarawak on the world map.
Sarawakians have brought their own adaptation of the dish to families and friends residing in the federal capital city of Kuala Lumpur and other states.
Scrumptious Kolo Mee is now available in other countries such as Singapore, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
According to the literature on the noodle, Kolo Mee derives from its ethnic Chinese name which means “dry mixed noodle”.
The dish was introduced in Kuching probably in the 1800s when mainland Chinese from China came to Sarawak.
These days, this delectable dish has evolved and has been gladly accepted by other races in Sarawak who have adapted it and even created their own versions to suit their palate.
It is a favourite dish or snack among locals for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even supper because it is a cheap, tasty and hefty meal.
The writer recently spoke to a self-taught Kolo Mee stall operator of 11 years, Annie Wee, better known as Annie, of Annie Kolo Mee at an eatery in the city here.
“The reason for Kolo Mee to be mouth-watering is the savoury oily texture of the succulent, springy noodle and other palatable toppings.
“Many people, except for a few, love the oily texture of their food. They also like the caramelised and the earthiness of garlicky and shallot flavours.”
She said that all these added up to be such a warm and unique flavour to the palate, which according to her is “difficult to describe”.
“For that, you have to try Kolo Mee if you have never experienced it,” she suggested.
Annie believed that those who like the dish, like “the sense of richness, comfort and the filling of warm food” in their stomach.
“That is why Kolo Mee can give you that satisfaction. This right combination of condiments and savoury taste made Kolo Mee irresistible and salivating.
“People love to have savoury, rich and tasty food texture in the mouth. It makes them crave for this kind of food, especially those who have not eaten their favourite noodle for a while,” she added.
Annie explained that traditionally, Kolo Mee used lard oil with garlic, shallot oil and monosodium glutamate (MSG) to flavour.
“Noodle sellers like myself still used these ingredients. However, we can add more flavours, like Char Siew sauces.
Annie revealed that she used Char Siew flavoured braised pork that she had prepared herself.
“I find it more succulent when the meat is braised and not dried. The braised meat is well-liked by my customers and makes the Kolo Mee more flavourful too. That is my signature ingredients in my Kolo Mee. It does make the dish more scrumptious.”
She said the Char Siew sauce may be slightly oily and usually have a distinct taste and flavour that add to the flavour of the dish. The sauce which is orange in colour brings an appetising effect to the noodle.
“When Char Siew sauce is mixed with the Kolo Mee, it brings out another level of palatable taste. It is savoury and tasty!”
Apart from Char Siew sauce, she also uses dark or light soy sauce and vinegar in her Kolo Mee dish. Some people want tangy, salty, moderate umami and a sweet kind of taste. Others like extra garlic and shallots, she noticed from her experience.
Apart from slices of barbeque (Char Siew) or braised pork, fried minced pork, shallots or fried onion, one may also choose to go with dumplings.
“You can also add fresh savoury dumplings (wanton), pork liver, pork meatball, fish balls and leafy vegetables,” she added further.
Annie noticed that Sarawakians who live in other states or countries are likely to miss a dish like Kolo Mee.
“The first thing on the list when they touch down in Sarawak is Kolo Mee. There is nothing better than the feeling that you are in Sarawak after devouring a bowl of tasty Kolo Mee.
“I have seen the bliss of happiness on their faces when they slurping away their favourite noodle and take a bite at the first slice of barbeque pork.”
Apart from the springy Kolo Mee, Annie also serves other scrumptious noodle dishes such as Mee Pok (flat egg noodle), Kueh Tiaw (rice noodle), Wanton (minced pork and prawn dumplings), Bee Hoon (rice vermicelli) to offer varieties for her customers.
Annie Kolo Mee operates daily from 3pm to 8pm. It is at Fook Seng Cafe and located along 236, Jalan Padungan, Kuching. For further inquiries, call 012-893 1282. — DayakDaily