Most Indonesian dishes start with a paste, which is composed of three main ingredients. These are shallots, garlic and candle nuts. I haven't seen candle nuts in the UK, but I am sure they are available from Asian shops. If you can't find them, then use a few Macademia nuts instead. You will need to use a blender to make the paste. If you've got a Thermomix- you can make the paste in seconds!
To make the paste
Place the candle nuts (or macademia nuts), the shallots and the garlic in the blender with about 4 tbs of oil. Blend until they are a fine white paste. You can add a little water if the paste is too thick, but it must be completely smooth. You can make the paste in advance. Store it in a clean jar and it will keep for a few weeks.
Put the paste in a wok (no oil is required) and slowly bring up the heat, so that the paste starts to cook but doesn't scorch. Continue to cook the paste, giving it a little stir every once in a while. Keep an eye on it as it can scorch quite easily. The paste is cooked when the colour changes from white to a creamy, slightly golden colour and smells fragrant.
While the paste is cooking, prepare the vegetables and meat. Cut the spring onions into small pieces, using some of the green stalks. Peel the carrots and cut into thin strips. Cut the chicken into small bite sized pieces. If you are using ready cooked noodles, rinse them in cold water and leave them to drain in a colander. If you are using dried noodles, follow the cooking instructions on the packet. It's best to slightly undercook the noodles so that they retain their texture in the final dish.
When the paste is cooked, add the chicken. Cook for a few minutes until the chicken is just cooked through. Then add the raw prawns and give it a stir. Add a little water to the wok so that the paste and the chicken and prawns combine a bit. You can add some water to whatever remains in the blender, and put this into the wok to add a little more flavour. Simmer the paste, chicken and prawns for a few seconds and then add the carrots and raise the heat to high. After a few minutes add the chopped spring onions. When the carrots are just cooked, turn the heat off completely. The mixture should not be watery.
Add the noodles to the wok along with a good sprinkle of white pepper, a tablespoon of salt and about 3/4 of a tablespoon of sugar. Add a good dash of gluten free soy sauce and then carefully mix everything together and turn off the heat.
To prepare the egg strips
Whisk the eggs with a little salt until frothy. Lightly grease a medium sized skillet and heat until fairly hot. Add a little of the egg mixture and swirl around to make a very thin pancake. This will cook in seconds. Flip onto a board and then roll up tightly. Cut into strips using a sharp knife. Continue this process until all the egg mixture has been used up.
To serve the Mei Goreng, place everything in a large serving dish and top with the egg strips. Serve slices of cucumber alongside and let everyone help themselves to soy sauce. If you are lucky to have some home made fried shallots, then sprinkle these on top. I'm not sure what the equivalent of Bon Appetite is in Indonesian, but I will find out and get back to you.
In Indonesia as in many other Asian countries, MSG is a common ingredient in cooking. Many people find that they get headaches or feel unwell after eating MSG, so Muthiah's super tip is to substitute a mixture of salt and sugar to get the right balance of flavour without resorting to this additive.
Kecap Manis, another commonly used condiment is used a lot in Indonesia. It is a very thick. sweet soy sauce which adds a distinctive flavour to Indonesian food. Sadly it does contain gluten, so unsuitable for use in gluten free cooking. Muthiah's dad is on the case and she will report back as to what adjustments we could make to get the same intensity of flavour without using the traditional Kecap Manis.
Thank you to Sue from the Coeliac Message Board who has kindly sent me this link. http://www.westcountryspice.com/shop/
West Country Spices supply both GF Hoisin Sauce and GF Ketjap Manis. I couldn't see Ketjap Manis on their product list, but have left a message with customer services to find out where it can be purchased. I think they supply some of the supermarkets including Waitrose.