There are two different types of mee siam that Singaporeans love eating. One is the traditional Malay style rice vermicelli with a spicy and tangy thick soup gravy that you eat the vermicelli with; the other is a recently evolved fusion take which is stir-fried and less spicy. The latter version is frequently served at buffets as the main dish as it can be prepared halal, this being one of the key requirements for serving food at events and festivals in Singapore.
Interestingly, the term ‘mee siam‘ has its origins from Thailand. It means ‘Thai noodles’ in Malay and is believed to have been imported from Thailand to the Malay archipelago and Singapore together with the immigrants. Undoubtedly, there are many variants of this dish that originated as a result of regional differences. This includes the popular Straits Chinese Nyonya version that we have here in Singapore, one that features a mix of Malay and Chinese flavours using fermented soy bean paste, dried shrimp as well as tamarind. This is the version that I like best too as it’s easier to stomach in the hot weather here and a lot easier to prepare too without the gravy.
- Dried chilli: 15, soaked for 1 hr
- Fresh red chilli: 5
- Shallot: 15
- Garlic: 6 cloves
- Oil: 6 tbsp
- Taucheo (fermented soy bean paste): 6 tbsp
- Dried shrimp: 100g
- Rice vermicelli (bee hoon): 400g, soaked in boiling water for 15min
- Bean sprout: 350g
- Chinese chive: 100g, cut into 2-cm lengths
- Salt: a pinch
- Sugar: 2 tbsp
- Tamarind water: 1 tbsp tamarind paste dissolved in 3 tbsp water
- Fish sauce: 1 tbsp
- White pepper: 1 tsp
- Egg: 6, boiled, deshelled and sliced
- Prawn: 350g, boiled and deshelled, leaving tails intact
- Deep-fried soya bean curd: 400g, cubed
- Lime: 6, halved
- Blend together dried chillies, fresh chillies, shallots and garlic till a coarse paste forms.
- Heat oil in wok. Add paste and leave to cook for 5min.
- Stir in taucheo and dried shrimp.
- Stir in rice vermicelli. Leave to cook for 5min.
- Stir in bean sprouts, chives, salt, sugar, tamarind water, fish sauce and pepper. Combine well.
- Top with egg, prawns and bean curd.
- Squeeze juice of half a lime on vermicelli to serve.
- What makes or breaks this dish is actually the last ingredient – the lime! I felt that something was missing somehow after I was done cooking the dish, but after adding the lime juice – voila!
- The original recipe has 1/2 cup of water added in after the vermicelli was added into the wok. I find that this actually makes them too wet, and have therefore omitted this from my recipe.