There are two ways of cooking mee siam here in Singapore. One has gravy and is more commonly found, especially at the Malay stalls in the Hawker centres, and the other is a dry mee siam which comes more from the Peranakans. Interestingly, mee siam actually refers to Siamese noodles, although is bears little resemblance nor flavour to any noodles dish found in Thailand.
Hubs isn’t too fond of the wet version, finding it rather on the sweet side. When life was still going on as usual pre-Covid-19, he used to tell me about a stall at the basement of Hong Leong building that sold really good dry mee siam… until the place closed for renovations and the stallholders never returned. Now, he tells me that maybe it wasn’t mee siam, but mee hoon. His colleagues had told him it was the former but they’re the same people who also said that dried shrimp topped chwee kueh and not preserved radish! So… I wouldn’t trust them. Lol.
Anyway, I found a pretty straightforward recipe for dry mee siam online that looked pretty good. They call it mee siam goreng – ‘goreng’ meaning ‘fried’ in Malay. I used the whole recipe for the paste, and half the main recipe which was more than enough for about 5 servings even though the full recipe’s supposed to feed 6-8 people. They must be really hungry people!
Very simply, soak 10 dried chillies and 100g dried shrimp for 20min in hot water. Then blitz in a blender with 6 cloves of garlic and red onions (I used one big one and 2 shallots). I should have used the soaking liquid but haphazardly threw it away. I think it would have infused more flavour into the paste. Instead, I used about a cup of water to blend everything together. Thereafter, I put half the paste into a container to freeze for another time, and used the other half for that evening.
Fry in oil for about 12 minutes. It didn’t say how much oil to use. I used about 2 tablespoons although I think the usual ‘rempah’ (spice blend) uses a lot more oil. Once dried out, add in a tablespoon of tomato paste and two tablespoons of fermented soy beans (tau cheo). Fry for another 5 minutes.
Recipe didn’t call for beansprouts but it’s ok to go rogue and play around with what you like. I used about two handful of beansprouts and gave them a quick fry.
Add in the sliced fish cake and prawns.
Toss in the 200g bee hoon (rice vermicelli, soaked about 1 hour prior to cooking). I recommend cutting the noodles before stir frying.
And add in the 100g/one piece of tau kwa (firm beancurd cubes). Season with salt and sugar to taste. I really only used a pinch of salt and a pinch of a pinch of sugar.
Should have added some chives in while cooking too. Instead, I used it more as garnish. Topped with sliced egg. A little calamansi on the side for a squeeze of acidity would have been nice but we were out of it. Definitely try to get the lime because it does make a difference.
And there you go! If Nat can do it, so can you!
Prep work took about 30min, including peeling the prawns and boiling the egg. I used one egg which we sliced with an egg slicer but you can also serve half a boiled egg or even one full egg per person. I did not deep fry the tau kwa which is what’s usually done for some crispiness. Also, I’d slice the prawns into half next time as well. Yes, there will be a next time! Overall, a thumbs up from the hubs and parents. Dad reckons a touch more sugar but I thought it was balanced enough as it was.
The proper recipe can be found here.