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Quest for Singapore Noodles


Shel_B
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I'm on a quest to develop a great recipe for Singapore noodles.  I've only made the dish twice following the recipes, and have eaten it in four restaurants recently, and nothing has seemed quite right to me.  Flavors tended to be muted, the curry was sometimes excessive, and vegetables were not particularly crisp.

 

So, how do you make your Singapore noodles?  Any tricks you've learned that you care to share, any interesting techniques or ingredients that you use?

 

Thanks!

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 ... Shel


 

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I don't believe there is any such thing. If I order them in six different restaurants I get six different dishes. So I'm listening.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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I don't believe there is any such thing. If I order them in six different restaurants I get six different dishes. So I'm listening.

 

You don't believe there's any such thing as what?  I don't understand your comment.

 ... Shel


 

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I assume you are asking about the noodle dish of that name (a.k.a. "Singapore Mei Fun") in American-Chinese cuisine (also UK and some parts of Europe plus other British-speaking countries) and not about a noodle dish you might actually get in Singapore; nor the one by that name in Hong Kong?

 

I trust you are aware that this dish in the form widely known in the US is not known in Singapore (except maybe in a few places where it has been "imported" as a novelty item).  There are many different noodle dishes in Singapore but the one which might resemble this dish and that only vaguely is the "breakfast noodles" dish (NO CURRY POWDER) which is commonly whipped up in several variations by hawkers there.

 

Have you tried the recipes found in a Google search?  Or in this search....Or this recipe, or this? One of the blogs referenced in one of the google searches is useful for embedding various recipes within the discussion...

 

The variations are many and there is no "perfect recipe" let alone a "traditional recipe" (since it really is a sort of dish invented by Cantonese cooks outside of Singapore) and ultimately it will depend solely on your own preferences, so you will need to play with it - and what YOU like may not be liked by others.

Edited by huiray (log)
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if you are trying to duplicate the flavor of a local rest. favorite, your key will be to find that same curry powder.

 

the rest is technical slicing, etc.

 

go back to that restaurant and carefully dissect the ingredients in the dish:

 

item, size, shape  etc.

 

those things are then stir fried, cooked noodles added  ( these are important for type ) curry powder added

 

and it tends to be oily from the stir-fry.  the curry powder blossoms in that oil.

Edited by rotuts (log)
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You don't believe there's any such thing as what?  I don't understand your comment.

Read huiray's comments.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Our local Chinese restaurant has this dish and we quite like it. We ask for it mild. I haven't tried to duplicate it, but I would start with rice vermicelli noodles and Mae Ploy yellow curry paste as my base. The version we get has shrimp, chicken and pork and a small amount of thinly sliced strips of veggies.

Mark

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fair enough.  pay careful attention to the various curry powders you can get in you area or on-line then

 

I have a brand that I use frequently because it suits Toots (it's mild) and, coincidentally, it works well in a variety of dishes.  If I want something a little different, I can up the heat with some Aleppo pepper or use one of my own curry powder recipes.  But you're right, at least IMHO, the curry powder is a big consideration, not only the composition but the amount as well.

 ... Shel


 

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Our local Chinese restaurant has this dish and we quite like it. We ask for it mild. I haven't tried to duplicate it, but I would start with rice vermicelli noodles and Mae Ploy yellow curry paste as my base. The version we get has shrimp, chicken and pork and a small amount of thinly sliced strips of veggies.

 

As noted in my original post, I'm not necessarily interested in duplicating a restaurant or other recipe, rather, trying to develop my own with ideas from others as well as looking at various complete recipes.  I like the idea of curry paste instead of powder, and that's given rise to another idea, which is to play around with some prepared curry sauces.  One that comes to mind is a prepared yellow curry sauce that I like with the addition of some fresh ground peanut butter to make sort of a curry-flavored peanut sauce, or maybe a peanut-flavored curry sauce.  Got the idea for the sauce from someone here on eGullet, tried it, liked it, and perhaps it'll work with this noodle dish.  Thanks!

 ... Shel


 

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also various noodle types.  get those two to suit you and the rest is Down Hill w the various ( delicious ) Mix-ins.

 

Indeed ... have two different packages of rice noodles in the pantry and am planning on picking up a third today or Thursday.  Of course, finding the right soaking time for the noodles is important to the texture of the noodles and the overall cohesiveness of the dish.

Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel


 

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OK.  I'll bite and make this personal.  We've never had Singapore Noodles in a restaurant that I can recall and I have no idea where I got my recipe.  I've looked in several of my standard Oriental Cooking cookbooks and can't find it.  I think I got it online from the days when I didn't save provenance of recipes.  We love this dish.

 

Ours has: noodles, bean sprouts, bell pepper, shredded cabbage, sliced onions, garlic, ginger, cooked pork (fried ground pork or shredded pork) chicken broth, soya sauce, brown sugar (omitted), salt & pepper and curry paste.   The curry paste my DH likes is Red Curry Paste, Aroy-D brand.   Our small Asian grocery carries a lot of Aroy-D brands.

 

 

 

I could also add that we live outside a small Ontario city, very provincial, and all the Chinese restaurants serve the same lowest common denominator buffet style food.  They pretty much each has a noodle dish which we usually ignore.  Toronto, 90 miles north and east, would have excellent restaurants but we try to stay out of Toronto as much as possible. 

Edited by Darienne (log)
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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

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Most versions I have seen are distinctly yellow - and have a certain turmeric flavor. Also, most versions I have had are more Indian curry spiced, rather than Thai curry spiced - so I don't know if a curry paste is the way to go. I would tend to use a mild curry powder, and add some turmeric. I don't think I would add soy sauce, but if you're looking for a slight sweetness, I'd use a small dribble of thick soy sauce which is common in Burmese cooking, which has an Indian influence.

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Indeed ... have two different packages of rice noodles in the pantry and am planning on picking up a third today or Thursday.  Of course, finding the right soaking time for the noodles is important to the texture of the noodles and the overall cohesiveness of the dish.

 

There are dozens and dozens of different brands and variations of "mei fun", far more than three or four or ten, with different ones ranging from every country in E and SE Asia available, wide to thin to slippery to coarse to everything in between, some suitable with a soak in hot water, some requiring an actual simmer in hot water or it might be a little too "hard".  Consider picking up more than just another one to make it a "third one" in your development of your own recipe for this artificial dish.  

 

Why not try it for your own recipe with wheat noodles, too, maybe with such things as misua?  Which, in turn, have various variations too.  (Actually, I think it might be an interesting idea to use the more "robust" versions of misua/mee sua (like certain ones from Taiwan) for this non-Singaporean dish)

Edited by huiray (log)
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Flavors tended to be muted, the curry was sometimes excessive, and vegetables were not particularly crisp.

 

I usually cook the recipe for Singapore noodles from Joyce Jue. It's in Savoring Southeast Asia cookbook or the Cooking from Singapore cookbook, or possibly both. Jue also mentions that this dish is unknown in Singapore itself.

 

To expand on the excellent suggestions already posted --

 

Muted flavors and soggy vegs go to method. It sounds like everything is overcooked, and that can happen if you try to cook a large amt of noodles all at once in a wok. Asian street vendors make great noodle dishes by cooking small portions very fast.

 

Excessive curry flavor goes to ingredients. I suggest checking out garam masala recipes, there are a zillion out there in cookbooks and online. Commercial curry powder is heavy on the turmeric (it's cheap). You could consider experimenting with fresh turmeric, which has a different (IMO, delightful) flavor compared to dried turmeric. You can buy fresh turmeric in Asian and possibly Indian groceries. Peel and grate it like fresh ginger root.

 

The place to start in your quest is your imagination. While you know what you don't like, are you clear on what you want? Go from there to attain the flavor profile you're seeking. good luck!

Edited by djyee100 (log)
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Hi Everyone,

 

I stumbled upon this topic of Singapore Mei Fun and was pleasantly surprised by this collection of like-minded culinary crowd on egullet.  First, let me be clear that I am part of a blogger family, and we have a food blog and my intent is NOT to spam but to share information!.  I have been cooking for a long time and I have had my share of Singapore noodles in fine restaurants, local Chinese take-out places, and many places in China including HK and Beijing but have never been to Singapore!.  I wanted to share our recipe from our blog that is great to make at home, simple, and pretty tasty.  At least this is what my family of food critics tell me and beleive me when I tel you, we are our own worse critics.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

 

http://thewoksoflife.com/2013/11/singapore-noodles-mei-fun/

 

Pardon me if it take a while for me to reply to any responses but I am new to egullet and my posts are also limited at this time.  Hope it is useful and you enjoy it!

 

Bill

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I'm singaporean, and when i first encountered singapore noodles in a restaurant in london's chinatown, my friends and I were aghast. What sorcery is this!

 

I've since found that Singapore noodles really vary from place to place. Curry powder does seem to be a common denominator. The nicer ones I've had use vermicelli, or a mix of that and a yellow noodle.

 

That said, I do feel that you'd be better off trying out one of the many other noodle dishes that Singaporeans eat, which are infinitely nicer than any of the Singapore noodles I've tried. :)

Edited by bluebereft (log)
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That said, I do feel that you'd be better off trying out one of the many other noodle dishes that Singaporeans eat, which are infinitely nicer than any of the Singapore noodles I've tried. :)

 

You're presuming that just because I asked about Singapore noodles, I've not made or enjoyed other styles.

 ... Shel


 

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