Chui Lee Luk’s mee Siam
Prep 45 mins
Cook 35 mins
Mee Siam is Malay for “Thai noodles”. The origins of the dish are now muddied, but the sweet, sour and hot sauce is reminiscent of Thai flavours. There are many versions, and this one is a much-loved festive tradition in chef Chui Lee Luk’s family. She describes the bean sprouts, soy bean paste and spice sauce as a perfect melding of flavours. Mee Siam is best served to share.
2½ tbsp peanut oil
100g bean sprouts
300g rice vermicelli, soaked in cold water until softened (½ hour), drained
300g medium raw prawns, peeled and cleaned
8 tofu puffs, cut into cubes
4 boiled eggs, peeled and halved
1 bunch garlic chives, trimmed and cut in 3cm lengths, blanched
8 calamansi (see note), halved
Sliced green and red chillies, to serve
1½ tsp tamarind pulp
10 golden shallots, coarsely chopped
10 long dried chillies, seeds removed, ground to a powder in a blender or spice grinder
1 tsp shrimp paste (belachan), roasted (see note)
250ml (1 cup) coconut cream (see note)
80g (¼ cup) yellow soy bean paste, preferably Healthy Boy brand
125ml (½ cup) coconut milk
¼ tsp caster sugar, or to taste
1. For spice sauce, soak tamarind pulp in 250ml boiling water for 10 minutes, then strain and press, reserving liquid (discard pressed solids). Set tamarind water aside.
Pound shallots, dried chillies and belachan to a smooth paste in a mortar and pestle, or purée in a food processor. Heat coconut cream in a wok over medium heat and bring to the boil. Stir occasionally until coconut cream splits and starts to caramelise (15-20 minutes). Add shallot mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture smells sweet and oil separates again (10 minutes). Add coconut milk, bean paste and tamarind water, and season with sugar and ½ tsp salt, or to taste. The spice sauce should be savoury, not overly sweet. Set aside.
2. Heat 1 tsp oil in a clean wok over high heat until shimmering, add bean sprouts and toss until barely wilted (10 seconds). When they are starting to wilt, add vermicelli and mix together, checking the vermicelli is softened to your liking. Season with 3 tablespoons of the spice sauce and transfer to a warm serving platter. Set aside and keep warm.
3. Wipe out wok, add 1½ tablespoons oil and heat until shimmering. Add prawns and toss until cooked through (2-3 minutes). Stir in 2 tablespoons of spice sauce and transfer to platter with noodles.
4. Wipe out wok, add remaining 3 teaspoons oil and fry the tofu puffs to warm through, then transfer to platter.
5. Arrange eggs over noodles, scatter with garlic chives, and decorate with calamansi and sliced chillies. Serve with remaining spice sauce to taste.
N O T E
Calamansi fruit look like limes on the outside, but they have orange flesh. Grown mainly in the Philippines, they’re available from some Asian grocers and greengrocers. If you can’t find them, substitute limes. To roast shrimp paste, wrap in foil and roast in a preheated oven at 160°C until fragrant (10 minutes). When you’re shopping for coconut cream, look for a brand that doesn’t contain thickeners, such as Mae Ploy, or extract your own from fresh coconut.
Recipe by Chui Lee Luk and image by Eatable.