Learn the best way to cook incredibly tasty Rice Noodles in Spicy Gravy (Mee Siam). Mee Siam is a dish reminiscent of the famous laksa , but the noodles and gravy are served separately.
- 250 g (8 oz) rice vermicelli
- 200 g (7 oz) hard bean curd
- oil for frying
- 250 g (8 oz) fresh bean sprouts
- 250 g (8 oz) small cooked prawns, peeled and deveined
- 1 small bundle garlic chives or 6 spring onions, cut into bite-sized lengths
- 2 or 3 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
- 2 limes, quartered, or 6 limau kesturi, halved
- 6 large dried red chillies
- 2 tablespoons small dried shrimp
- 6 brown shallots or 2 brown onions
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 stem lemongrass, white portion only, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried shrimp paste (blacan)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 tablespoon canned salted soybeans
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 · 400 ml (13 fl oz) can coconut milk
- walnut-sized piece of dried tamarind or 2 tablespoons tamarind pure?
Drop the rice vermicelli into a large pan of boiling water, boil for 2 minutes, drain in a colander and run cold water through to stop cooking. Drain again. Cut the bean curd into 1 cm (½ in) thick slices, press on paper towels to absorb the excess moisture and fry in oil until golden on both sides. Drain, cool and dice. Wash the bean sprouts and pinch off any straggly tails. Set aside. To make the Spice Paste, soak the dried chillies and dried shrimp in enough hot water to cover for 15 minutes. Put in an electric blender with 2 tablespoons of the soaking water and the shallots, garlic, lemongrass and shrimp paste. Blend to a pure, adding a little of the oil if necessary. Heat the 2 tablespoons oil in a wok and on low heat fry the pure, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the soybeans, sugar and salt.
Remove half the cooked paste to a saucepan, stir in the coconut milk and the same amount of water. Soak the dried tamarind in about 125 ml (4 fl oz/ ½ cup) hot water and, when softened, knead to dissolve the pulp. Strain the liquid and add to the saucepan, stirring constantly while bringing to simmering point. If using tamarind pure, just add and simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes. Reheat the remaining paste and toss the prawns, bean sprouts and chives for 1 minute. Add the drained rice vermicelli, toss and stir until well combined and heated through. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the fried bean curd, eggs and limes. Serve the hot gravy in a separate deep dish so each person can take a serving of rice noodles, then ladle the gravy over. For extra flavor, squeeze a little lime juice into the gravy. A small dish of sliced fresh chillies or a hot sambal may be served alongside.
On a recent visit to Singapore, I enjoyed this dish and craved it when I was back home, but could not spare the time to prepare it. However, where there’s a will there’s a way. I put the eggs on to boil, and created a very good reproduction of this dish in minutes. In 1.5 litres (3 pints/6 good cups) boiling water, I dissolved 3 tablespoons Reuben Solomon’s Singapore Laksa Paste and 2 tablespoons Charmaine Solomon’s Rendang Curry Paste plus 1 tablespoon sugar to give the sweetness which was so appealing in the Singapore version. Our garden yielded chives and limes, the pantry always has rice vermicelli and cans of coconut milk. I didn’t even miss the tofu and bean sprouts, but I did wish I hadn’t used up all the prawns in the freezer. For a 10-minute meal, it was great!