Wednesday, July 20, 2011

ACS Kampar Noodle Soup - Noodle Week # 2

My secondary school (13-17 age) had a really large canteen. How large? As long as 6 classrooms, as wide as 2 labs. Everyday we’d look forward to beak time so that we can run down and be the first in line to get our food. Each session of break(3 sessions in total), you’d see 800 students scrambling to the canteen (the school had 48 classes in the morning and 16 classes in the afternoon, so 2 sessions in the morning and one in the afternoon) . So, you better not be the last

It was run with a few vendors, rather than one major operator. During my time, there were 2 Indian stalls, 2 Malay Stalls, 2 Chinese stalls, 2 drinks stalls and one Kacang Putih stall.. Overall, the school had 3 versions of nasi lemak, 4 versions of fried noodles (2 Indian 1 Malay and 1 Chinese), 2 versions of noodle soup (malay and Chinese), chicken rice, thosai, roti canai/pratha, mushroom noodle, chee cheong fun(with lots of “liew” to choose from), assam laksa, cekodok, currypuff, keropok lekor, lots of kacang putih(Indian snacks) and 20 varieties of drinks. 

We rarely see students bringing food to school, and most of us do eat at school. Food is cheap and good. Cheaper than primary school. A bowl of noodle soup (plain, any variety) only costs 40 sen, a 10oz cup of watermelon juice or soy bean only cost us 30 sen. Nasi lemak comes in 40 sen and 50 sen portions and chicken rice is only RM1. Thosai and roti canai/pratha is only…. 30 sen!!! Why bring food when the food in the canteen is so affordable(20% -40%)less than outside food that time and most of all, they are all delicious. The only food that was standard priced compared to outside food is chee cheong fun. For those of you who know Kampar, Kampar is a place known for good local food, and even the school canteen won’t be any worse. If they serve “edible” food, they won’t be in business for long.

Few years after I left school, the canteen system changed due to the declining amount of students. One operator took over the whole canteen and the food is nothing to shout about. Mission schools were no longer the choice school compared to Chinese schools. The school is in bad shape and well, it’s no longer the top school in town. Used to have 12 classes in each form and now… just 2??? Sounds really pathetic right? But what can one do with the change in education trends?

Today I tried to make the Malay stall’s “mee sup”. The noodles were served in a special broth, that can be found no where. Well, maybe there is out there, but I’ve never eaten one with all the Malays eateries I’ve been to. When ever I order this, I’d see how they’d stir the pot and all the stuff inside is visible to me. I tried to recreate this dish, and I dare to say, I’m pretty near it. The makcik (Malay for auntie) used prawn heads(from the prawns she use to make sambal udang for the nasi lemak) and chicken carcass as the base for the broth. It’s not a curry, but is lightly infused with coconut milk to add some sweet and fragrant edge to it. It was not hot and spicy like a curry, but fragrantly spiced with local aromatics.

My dear readers who are my seniors or my juniors, I’m sure this dish brings back memories for you, at least it does for me.

ACS Kampar Noodle Soup
Recipe source: Wendyywy
Inspired by: The Malay food stall in ACS Secondary Kampar (91-95, the years I was there)
Serves: 6-8pax

Soup Base
3-4 cups of prawns shells +heads
450gm chicken breast (half of a large breast with bones and skin)
3 cloves garlic
3 shallots
3 red chillies
50gm ginger (peeled weight)
30gm galangal (lengkuas, peeled weight)
4 lemon grass
1 Malay soup spice bag (sup bunjut, and it consist of coriander seeds, fennel, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and star anise)
1/2 Tbsp tamarind paste (adabi brand)
½ cup coconut milk
3L water
Some cooking oil

1. Smash ginger, galangal and lemon grass. Blend shallots, garlic and chilli to a paste.
2.Put some cooking oil in pot and saute the blended ingredients until fragrant.
3. Put in water and bring to a boil.
4. Put in chicken, soup bag, ginger, galangal, lemon grass and prawn shells. Simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Fish out chicken breast and leave it to cool.
6. Put in tamarind paste and coconut milk. Simmer for another 30 minutes.
7. Shred chicken meat and season soup with salt.
8. Strain soup and reheat when it's time to serve.

bean sprouts
200gm rice vermicelli (to be soaked )
500gm yellow noodles
Shredded chicken from the stock
Chopped spring onions and Chinese celery (It’s 芹菜or daun sup, and it’s a must)

1. Bring a pot of water to boil.
2. Lightly blanch bean sprouts, set it aside.
2. Bring water back to boil and put in soaked rice vermicelli and blanch for 10-15 seconds. Drain.
3. Blanch yellow noodles for 15- 20 seconds and drain.
4. Put noodles of preference into bowl. Top with shredded chicken and bean sprouts. Ladle soup over and sprinkle with chopped spring onions and chinese celery.

See you on Friday with Everybody's Favourite Fried Noodle... the CKT


  1. Oh dear, i have another one hour before my lunch can i resist this bowl of yummy!

  2. I'm from ACS Kampar too, but I dont really remember how many stalls there are but I only remember the "Chee Cheong Fun" stall; becoz it was run by my auntie! Your noodle soup looks very delicious.

  3. アンゼエリン,
    so, I think you should know what to eat later , LOL.

    Do I know you? Are you one of "ah ngang's" daughters?

  4. yea! i like acs Chee Cheong Fun" stall; hmmm...

  5. My school canteen also similar. We would rush to the canteen to get food. Those who are Prefect would go out 10minutes earlier to have their meals.

    During my time, also seldom see student bring home cooked food to school

  6. assam noodles? looks like you had picnics in school everyday!

  7. Omgg. Your canteen use to be like that? You're lucky. Nowadays school canteen food taste horrible, oily and dirty. Everyone would bring home food. How I wish there is such canteen in my school.

  8. My favorite canteen food was an auntie's nasi lemak!

    The soup is unique cos I saw you use Malay Soup Spice Bag and the consistency looks light and not heavy. :)

  9. Nice memories of school days food....

    My school canteen is very small!

  10. Wendy, I believe with this post, you'll 'attract' a lot of ACS gangs, haha.

  11. Wow...I wish my high school had a canteen like that- ours was smaller than a classroom and sold mostly snacks and prepackaged foods like pies. I pretty much brought lunch every single day of high school....This looks delicious! The soup looks super tasty with all those prawn shell/heads in them!! If only my school sold food like that.....

  12. just reading through your description of this soup noodles makes me so hungry ... looks very interesting, a little like our Chinese prawn noodles soup except for the spices, tamarind and coconut milk

  13. WoW. It looks fantabulously tasty! much better than what I see in Kampar now...

  14. Looks like the prawns noodles but surely taste the soup must be really tasty with all the natural sweetness from the heads and all.

  15.'s already 11pm and when I see your noodles, I'm still salivating!! Too bad I think I can't find the Malay Soup bag here lah...any idea where I can find it?

  16. er...just imagine, eating your noodle together with Sonia fish cakes...voila....superb!!..hahaha

  17. Hi Wendy,

    I have been following your blog frequently. Love all your postings.

    Really admire you, how you get the engery and time to cook so nice meals, update blog, attend to big house, with loads of housework and 3 little ones?

    I can't even cook nor attend to much housework when I am alone with my 3 kids.

    Can you share your tips? :)

    Thanks. :D

  18. OMG Wendy, I am from ACS Kampar too! What a small world! I agree with you, Kampar is such a gastronomy heaven, til today we would still make the trip to Kampar just to eat our favourite foods.- natasya

  19. anonymous,
    I think all the students does :)

    Small kucing,
    That's why some chose to be prefects, to avoid rush hour :)

    no, there's no assamy flavour in there. The Tbsp of assam paste is just quintesential to most Malay cooking, to bring out the umami taste of the ingredients.

    Oh... our canteen felt more like a food court.
    But cleanliness? It's not to say very very clean, but we are used to it and just keep a blind eye over a lot of things. We Kamparians always believe one fact, the best tasting stuff aren't always at the cleanest places.

    Food Dreams,
    Oh yes, the soup is indeed very light. I was addicted to it for some time. LOL.

    My school had almost 2500 students leh...

    Hehe... so far just a few commented

    maybe it's because our food needs to be eaten at the table. They aren't supposed to be like finger food, and they are hot!

    Fong's kitchen journal,
    Well, you can say the only similarity is only the prawn and water. Nothing else is the same. LOL.

  20. WyYv,
    The version in school didn't have chicken shreds. I added it in :p
    Very true that local Kampar food's quality has dwindled over the years, due to the passing of the older generation.

    Actually it taste nothing like prawn noodles.
    More towards aromaticly sweet, than seafoody.

    I have no idea as I do live in Spore, LOL.
    But this is a common ingredient in Malay cuisine. And Adabi is an international brand that exports everywhere. I guess you can try it at the market stalls that caters to Malay customers.

    It is delicious right?

    First of all, do I know you. My house isn't that big la.
    Well, my elder 2 is attending kindergarden now, and they take naps and watch TV. That's why I have time. They have always been easy kids and they play with each other alot. My baby still sleeps a lot.
    I do not do housework all the time. I do not mop or sweep the floor daily. LOL. Just do one chore per day, if not can die! But I do laundry everyday. If my MIL is around, I cook daily. If not, 3 times a week is a luxury.Eat chap fan la. LOL.

  21. natasya,
    Oh, from what year?
    Nowadays Kampar food not as good as last time, but still a lot better than KK. I go back and eat eat eat each time, LOL.

  22. this noodle soup looks sooo good! Thanks for sharing!!

  23. You were so lucky! I can imagine how the noodle tastes like. ;-)

  24. Hi Wendy,

    Thanks for sharing your tips.

    No, we do not know each other yet. Just that from your pictures, you seem to have a big place. ;D

    I still amazed by your endless strength, for me, when my confinement was just over, I was already going crazy with the endless laundry, on top of the every 3-4 hours of feeding then follow by the poo, cleaning, washing, etc...... ;p

  25. Anonymous,
    Wow, endless laundry? Your family wear so much clothes? One day I wash my kids' clothes, one day adult clothes, so, it's sort of alternate days.
    My babies all wear disposable diapers the moment the CL leaves. LOL. But they do poo much lesser after full moon.
    Baby gets fed every 2-3 hours but I do not carry my babies all the time, they learn to watch the fan, like it or not. LOL, wicked mom I am. If not they get too sticky and that is somethng I never want.
    They may cry initially, but later on, they're ok. But I do play with them once a while, but not let them see me all the time.

  26. Hi Wendy
    May I know what brand of vermicilli you use?
    Is it better to use thick or thin type?

  27. Zoe,
    I use Erawan most of the time.
    It's a matter of personal preference, but I use thin most of the time, unless for specific noodles that calls for the thick type.

  28. Hi Wendy,
    Thanks for yr quick reply. Does Erawan brand has the powdery taste? I find some brands not suitable to use for plain soup (cheng tong) due to that powdery after taste?

  29. Zoe,
    Erawan taste like noodles sold at hawker stalls.
    Not the smooth smooth type, more friction on the palate, something that I prefer.
    Powdery taste? I think China imported one might have it, but this Thai made Erawan doens't, not that I noticed.

  30. Thank you for posting. Brings back many memories of that big canteen. I don't quite like that sawmill next to the school. Luckily it is gone now. Please join the new Kampar facebook to share your thoughts and delicious food. Cheers! CML

  31. CML,
    Thanks for the invitation,
    Ah... that sawmill wasn't in operation since a long long time ago, I think when I was just 6 or 7, it has stopped.

  32. Thank you for replying to my comments despite your hectic schedule. We tend to be "extra friendly" if that is the correct word to use for Kamparians to reconnect.I have posted a link here for you. You will find some of my postings under Beel Lee my pseudonym.

    Just hope that it will bring back more memories to you too. Take care and God bless. CML.

  33. I'm from Kampar and that is also my school 1983-1987, can't remember the stall but your noodles look delicious!


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