Mee Siam

mee siam
mee siam

Just saying its name alone induces the reflex of salivation and drives our tastebuds mad with craving. That tangy sourness coupled with sweet yet savoury with every slurp of spicy Mee Siam dripping with a robust gravy made of prawns, sour tamarind, taucheo (fermented soya bean paste) and a rempah of belachan, red shallots and dried chillies.

Mee Siam got its name from the origins of a Thai noodle dish made with coconut milk, prawns, bean curd, bean sprouts, taucheo and minced pork. It uses omelette egg instead of hard boiled unlike the Singapore version and is garnished with a Thai favourite—banana blossom. It’s unsurprising to see Mee Siam popularly sold by the Malay or Chinese Nyonya food stalls or restaurants in Singapore due to its Malay and Peranakan roots—a local adaptation that Singapore has made its own for decades.

It’s just the type of perfect noodle dish you could enjoy for any of the three main meals of the day in Singapore and I’m sure this recipe is going to delight you more than any commercial packet Mee Siam sauce you can find.

Mee Siam is one of my best loved recipes amongst my hot list of classic Singapore Hawker favourites and one I especially wanted to share with you. More crucially, it so happens to be on the list of My Singapore Food Tribute To Mr Lee Kuan Yew (our late founding father of Singapore) in memory of his legacy.

I made Mee Siam today and was fondly reminded of how it was one of the late Mr Lee’s favourite dishes. Why does life seem so completely different without him though I never knew or met the man personally? And being so far away from the action, yet the heart wrenches that I was unable to be there to join the throngs of Singaporeans in those unbelievable queues snaking from around Circular Quay and beyond to the Parliament House. I suppose it’s the heart that recognises once a daughter, always a daughter. And as a daughter of Singapore, the only solace that remains is in knowing that he and his legacy shall always be a part of my life living and growing up in Singapore and even in his passing he continues to inspire me to keep my dreams alive. As he said, “No one owes us a living” and “We shall determine our own destiny”. Indeed, our life is what we make of it.

mee siam
mee siam

Ingredients for fried mee siam noodles:
1 whole packet of dried Chinese rice vermicelli (soaked till softened)
1 can coconut cream
20 dried chillies
1/2 C small red shallots (skins off)
1cm cube of ready toasted belachan
1/2 C taucheo (fermented soya bean paste)
125 ml or 1/2 C tomato passata (or can be substituted with tomato sauce without the adding of any further sugar)
2 TB sugar
5-6 square pieces of fried tofu puff
peanut oil for frying
2 tsp salt or to taste

Mee Siam Gravy Sauce:
20 dried chillies
1/2 C small red shallots (skins off)
peel, wash and pound with dried chillies till fine
1cm cube of ready toasted belachan
1/2 C taucheo (fermented soya bean paste)
600-800g green prawns
60 g tamarind paste
120 g sugar or to taste
2 tsp salt
500ml water
1 litre chicken stock
1 can coconut milk

To garnish and serve with:
Spring onions, for sprinkling on top
Hard-boiled eggs
Limes (calamansi is best for this)

mee siam beehoon
mee siam beehoon

Directions for Mee Siam vermicelli noodles:
Soak dried chillies in warm water till soft. Press to squeeze in order to drain the water out as much as possible. Pound chillies with the shallots till fine. Halve this pounded paste: 1 portion for the gravy and 1 portion for the beehoon.

Soak the dried vermicelli beehoon in a large basin of water till soft. Blanch with boiling water for about 3 minutes then strain, discarding the water away. Cool down with running tap water, drain again. Set aside on a sieve to drip dry for frying later.

Slice fried tofu puff into thinner slices. Stir-fry in some peanut oil over till slightly browned without burning them. Set aside for assembly later.

Fry coconut cream over low heat till its oil separates and you get a brown caramelised residue. Stir-fry the pounded dried chillies and shallots. Add the toasted belachan and break it up to mix it in with the dried chillies and shallots. Push mixture to one side.

Add a little more oil, the taucheo and continue to fry the chilli paste with it till the flavours and aromas are released. Reduce the heat, add tomato passata with sugar or tomato sauce and salt. Mix thoroughly. Add the beehoon. Toss with chopsticks till thoroughly mixed. Season to taste. Cover and set aside. Let it cool down before assembling mee siam.

Directions for Mee Siam Gravy Sauce:
Stir-fry the other portion of dried chillies and shallots in peanut oil, adding the belachan powder, breaking it up to mix it in.

Add taucheo to the chilli paste and stir-fry these together. Set aside.

Clean, shell and devein all the prawns. Fry prawn shells and heads in their own liquid.

Add water with the assam paste, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil and bring to a gentle simmer for 10-15 minutes. Sieve into a saucepan to remove shells and heads. Add chicken stock. Bring to a boil again for 5-10 minutes. Add coconut milk.

Blanch the prawns in the gravy to cook them. Remove and set aside for assembly.
Add fried chilli paste. Stir through. Bring back to a boil and season to taste.

Assembling Mee Siam:
Dish out individual portions of the fried vermicelli (beehoon) onto plates with some depth to accommodate the mee siam gravy.

Divide the blanched prawns according to the number of servings you are preparing. Each serving should be garnished with prawns, fried tofu puff pieces and halved hard boiled eggs, then drizzled with the mee siam gravy. Sprinkle with some chopped spring onions and the blanched beansprouts. Add a wedge of lime for squeezing over the mee siam just before serving.

My Singapore Food Tribute To Lee Kuan Yew
Gado Gado

In memory of Mr Lee Kuan Yew pic from ST
In memory of Mr Lee Kuan Yew
pic from ST
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