Why It Works
- Cooking the stir-fry in batches allows the wok to maintain high heat even over lower-power home burners.
- Seasoning the shrimp, pork, and vegetables with curry first, and then the noodles second, ensures all ingredients are well-seasoned.
I bet if I were to hop on a plane and fly directly to Singapore, it would be hard—if not impossible—to find so-called "Singapore noodles" at any restaurant. Where would I find them? For starters, a heck of a lot of Chinese restaurants. Seasoned with curry powder, the thin rice noodles are stir-fried along with shrimp, char siu (Chinese roast pork), and a mix of vegetables. Its origins are a bit fuzzy, but most likely Singapore noodles are as Cantonese as a bowl of wonton noodle soup: take away the curry powder and you have another Cantonese stir-fried rice-noodle dish called Ha Moon-style stir-fried rice noodles (Ha Moon Chow Mei Fun). This probably explains why you'll most likely find this dish at a dai pai dong (open-air food stall) in Hong Kong rather than a hawker center in Singapore.
Finding the Right Noodles
Cooking with the right rice noodle is the key to making Singapore noodles successfully. If you have an Asian supermarket nearby, there are probably rows and rows of different brands and sizes of rice-stick noodles (sometimes also called rice vermicelli noodles). Having a variety of choices to pick from is good, but it can also be confusing. You need a rice noodle that is thin, but can be subjected to the heat of the wok and the movements of stir-frying without breaking into little bits.
The best for this is a rice-stick noodle with the words "kong moon" on the label. Kong Moon, also romanized as jiangmen, is a city in the Guangdong region of China. There are a few brands that make kong moon-style rice noodles. The Double Swallow brand is my personal favorite, but others will work as long as they have that "kong moon" label.
If you're not able to find this type of rice-stick noodle, look for ones that list only water and rice in the ingredients. Some noodles are made with tapioca flour, which I find a bit too starchy for stir-frying.
When you have your noodles, prepping them is pretty simple: Pour enough hot boiling water over them to cover and soak for five minutes. Then rinse under cold water and drain in a colander.
Adding Meat and Veggies to Singapore Noodles
Shrimp is almost always found in Singapore noodles, and so is char siu. Most Chinatown barbecue joints or noodle restaurants will have char siu hanging by a hooks up front next to other favorites like roast duck and soy sauce chicken. Ask for half a piece of char siu (fatty or lean) and tell them not to cut it for you (you'll want to cut it yourself into thin strips). If you're unable to get that, ham is just as popular in Singapore noodles as char siu—get a nice thick piece of ham steak and slice it thinly.
As for the vegetables, onions, bell peppers, and carrots are very common, though you can also add celery, bean sprouts, and snow peas. The main thing is to aim for a mix of colors while also making sure the vegetables retain some crunch during stir-frying.
The Cooking Process
As with all home stir-frying recipes, I cook the ingredients in batches, since overloading the wok will lower its temperature, and high heat is an absolute necessity for stir-frying. (On a similar note, if you want to double this recipe, do not stir-fry double the amount of each ingredient in one wok—home ranges just can't generate the amount of heat needed to stir-fry large quantities of food.)
The first thing I cook in the wok is the egg. When that's done, I set it aside and wipe the wok clean. You'll be re-heating the wok again so you don't want any leftover bits of egg in it, lest they burn.
Next go the shrimp, which have been quickly marinated in oil and fish sauce.
Then add onions and char siu, followed by red bell peppers and snow peas, and lastly the carrots.
When all the vegetables and meats are in the wok, I like to season everything with curry powder and salt so it's well-coated before being mixed with the noodles. Then I remove it all from the wok and set it aside.
I wipe the wok clean again, heat a few tablespoons of oil, and add the noodles.
After about 30 seconds of stir-frying, I add the sauce along with more curry powder, and a little bit of salt. Make sure you are firmly scraping the bottom of the wok with your spatula as you stir-fry the noodles—this prevents the noodles from sticking.
Next, I return the rest of the ingredients to the wok and mix it all together. Off the heat, I add scallions, a drizzle of sesame oil, and serve.
No matter where Singapore noodles come from, they sure do taste great.
Click Play to See These Singapore Rice Noodles Come Together
1/4 pound shrimp, shelled, deveined, and rinsed under cold water
4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce, divided
1 bundle (about 5 1/2 ounces) dried rice stick noodles (see notes)
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder, divided (see notes)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 large eggs, beaten with two pinches kosher salt
1/4 pound Chinese roast pork (char siu) or ham, cut into thin strips
1/4 medium onion, very thinly sliced
1/2 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and julienned
12 snow peas, stemmed, tough strings removed, and slice thinly on the bias
1/2 medium carrot, julienned
2 scallions, sliced very thinly on the bias
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
Pat shrimp dry with paper towels and place in a small bowl. Add 1 teaspoon canola oil and 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce. Mix well and set aside in refrigerator.
Place rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand until pliable, about 5 minutes. Drain noodles in a colander, then transfer to a rimmed baking sheet with a wire rack set in it. Spread noodles in an even layer, then, using scissors, cut noodles in half.
Place garlic in a small bowl and add 2 teaspoons curry powder along with soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, white pepper, sugar, remaining 2 teaspoons fish sauce. Mix well, thinning with 2 teaspoons water, then set sauce aside.
Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a wok or nonstick skillet over high heat, tilting to swirl oil, until smoking. Add eggs and let cook undisturbed for about 10 second, then gently move the eggs back and forth with a spatula until they start to firm up. Break eggs into small pieces, then set aside in a large bowl.
Wipe wok clean. Return wok to high heat, add 2 tablespoons oil and heat until smoking. Add shrimp and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add roast pork and onion and continue to stir-fry for another 30 seconds. Add red bell pepper and snow peas and stir for another 30 seconds, then add carrots. Add remaining 1 teaspoon curry powder, season with salt, and cook, tossing, until curry is evenly distributed. Scrape wok contents into bowl with eggs.
Wipe wok clean again. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons canola oil over high heat until smoking. Add rice-stick noodles and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Stir in sauce until curry powder is evenly distributed, adding water 1 or 2 teaspoons at a time as needed to help distribute sauce. Return egg, shrimp, roast pork, and vegetables to wok and stir-fry until everything is evenly combined, about 30 seconds. Season with salt and remove from heat. Add scallions, drizzle with sesame oil, mix well, and transfer to a large serving bowl. Enjoy immediately.
Look for rice noodles with the words "kong moon" on the label (Kong Moon, also romanized as jiangmen, is a city in the Guangdong region of China). There are a few brands that make kong moon-style rice noodles. The Double Swallow brand is my personal favorite, but others will work as long as they have that "kong moon" label.
I often use Madras curry powder from a brand called Trong Food, which can be found at some Chinese or Vietnamese supermarkets. You don't have to use this brand, though, as a more generic curry powder from your local supermarket will do as well.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 23g||30%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||15%|
|Total Carbohydrate 63g||23%|
|Dietary Fiber 16g||56%|
|Total Sugars 23g|
|Vitamin C 257mg||1,284%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|