Mee Calong: The Traditional Fish Ball Noodle Soup from Beserah Pahang
Mee Calong (or Mi Calong) is a specialty noodle dish that came from Beserah in Pahang. It is a bowl of noodles, topped with fish balls, tofu puffs, and served in a flavourful fish broth. Since Beserah is a fishing village, fish has become a major ingredient of the village’s cuisine. There are other fish noodles in Pahang, but Mee Calong prides itself as the one made with fresh, handmade fish balls. There is a consensus that if the fish balls are commercially made, they won’t call the dish Mee Calong.
The word ‘calong’ in the name refers to the handmade fish balls or a type of knife in local slang. Maybe the connection between the two meanings is that the fish was minced into a paste using the knife.
The fish used for the fish balls is usually ikan tenggiri, ikan selayang, ikan tamban or ikan parang. The flesh is carefully deboned and pound into a fine paste with corn flour, ground pepper, salt and other seasonings sugar, garlic, shallots ginger etc. The fish paste can be made into tiny fish balls and also the stuffing for tofu puffs.
Without wasting the leftover fish bones, they are used in making the flavourful fish broth, seasoned with black pepper, garlic and shallots. The popularity of Mee Calong vendors relies heavily on their soup base and the fish balls.
Upon ordering, the raw fish ball, stuffed tofu, vegetables, and noodles are cooked in the boiling fish broth. Mee Calong is served hot with fried shallots, chives or coriander as garnishes and sometimes a poached egg to fancy it up. It is also served with special chilli sauce or sambal for extra heat.
The noodles used for Mee Calong is usually a special type of wheat noodles called Mee Lidi, but other noodle options are available too, like thick yellow noodles, thin rice noodles and flat rice noodles.
Mee Calong is not only a local icon, but also an amazing comfort food for the residents of Beserah. People from all over Pahang and other neighbouring states would travel to Beserah to enjoy an authentic bowl of Mee Calong. Nowadays, Mee Calong stalls can be found outside of Beserah too, especially at nearby cities and towns, even in Terengganu.