At first glance, HeyMe’s Prawn Porridge looks a lot like pao fan — hot seafood-based soup poured over rice. The most basic portion comes topped with two pieces of grey prawn, as well as a few slices of pork loin and fish cake.
When asked if they were riding on the recent pao fan craze, Louis shakes his head. “We started out not following any trend — I didn’t even really know what ‘pao fan’ was until recently! He adds: “there’s actually a similar dish made with seafood in Northern Malaysia, that’s where we got our inspiration from. To me, this is the perfect fusion of our two backgrounds — Kinstons’ expertise in prawn broth, and my own culture.”
As we dig in, we start to identify some differences. Unlike regular pao fan where the broth is poured over cooked rice just before serving, Kinstons and Louis simmer the rice in the boiling pot of prawn soup for two minutes, until the rice grains change color and the soup thickens up. Their rendition also omits the usual crispy deep-fried rice that’s sprinkled on pao fan. During their R&D process, they also discovered that a mix of old and new rice grains give the best texture. The resulting mouthfeel of the prawn porridge is indeed softer and thicker than pao fan — it reminds us a bit of Teochew porridge, albeit less watery.
Each seafood-kissed spoonful saturates the almost-melty rice grains. Compared to the regular prawn broth on its own, the flavours are slightly richer, probably due to the liquid being thickened by the creamy rice. The thin pork slices are tender as well, with no trace of gaminess.