My Mother's Mee Siam Noodles Recipe

Mee Siam recipe

A part of me wishes that I wasn't as enamoured of food as much as I am. I wish I liked exercise and I wish that I could easily go without a meal. I wish that I got endorphins and that every day I wanted to go out and do exercise. Instead, I grudgingly don my exercise gear and complain throughout the session. In an effort to try and distract my trainer Nina I pointed out two ibises that were circling me each at opposite points.

"They're only circling because they know you're close to death," Nina said dryly.

I had to laugh. You have got to love a trainer that is honest and I'm sure I did look close to death...

My lack of love for exercise definitely comes from my parents. While they're not unhealthy our family sport is eating and appreciating food. And I was excited when my mother offered to share with me a recipe for a noodle dish that she doesn't make often but is a very much appreciated when she goes. It's Mee Siam aka Siamese Noodles.

Mee Siam recipe

Mee Siam is different from other fried noodle dishes in that it is comes with a sweet, spicy and tangy gravy. The key to this dish is the gravy that is richly delicious that blankets the vermicelli noodles in flavour. The dried prawns and shrimp paste at first seems too fishy but once you layer it with tangy tamarind paste and sugar, it adds such a delicious depth of flavour.

As she doesn't cook this much my mother was a bit flustered and at one point said, "I'm too old to cook" to which I gasped, "Don't say that!" Because Dear Reader I hope to be going out cooking rather than exercising. Preferably eating this.

So tell me Dear Reader, oddly morbid question but how do you want to "go"? And do you have a favourite noodle? I love hokkien, thick rice and egg noodles! :)

Mee Siam Noodles

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An Original Recipe by Not Quite Nigella

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

  • 454g/1 lb. rice vermicelli dried
  • 1/2 cup dried prawns, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes
  • 2 large red onions, peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 10 dried red chillies, seeds removed
  • 1x1 cm piece of shrimp paste
  • Oil for frying
  • 1/2 cup taucheo or yellow bean sauce (see buyer's tip)
  • 1/4 cup tamarind paste
  • 4.5 cups hot water
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 400ml/14.14 fl ozs. tin coconut milk, shaken well to distribute cream
  • 300g/10.6ozs. peeled prawn meat, chopped
  • 2 squares firm yellow tofu
  • 450g/1 lb. bean sprouts
  • 6 boiled eggs, peeled and sliced

  • 2 Fresh limes

  • Handful of chives

Buyer's tip: Taucheo or yellow bean sauce is found at Asian grocery stores where there is an enormous range of bean sauces available. Don't stress if you can't find it, even if you use black bean paste then it will still be delicious. Dried prawns are tiny prawns also found at Asian grocery stores

Mee Siam recipe
Dried prawns (left) and right, once soaked and blitzed

Step 1 - Soak vermicelli in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain and leave aside.

Mee Siam recipe

Step 2 - While the noodles are soaking, drain the soaked dried prawns (reserving the water) and blitz in a food processor until they become powdery in texture - this takes about five minutes on high speed. Divide into two portions and set aside.

Mee Siam recipe

Step 3 - Process the red onions, garlic, chillies and shrimp paste in a food processor until they form a smooth paste.

Step 4 - Heat some oil in a frypan or wok and then fry 2 tablespoons of the puréed onion mix until fragrant. Add half of the dried prawn powder to the wok and cook until fragrant. Add the bean sauce and tamarind paste and stir.

Step 5 - In a pot, heat the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Add the onion mixture from the wok and simmer the sauce in the pot for 30 minutes with the lid off or until thickened. A quick hack if you can't wait that long is to add cornstarch mixed with cold water to thicken it.

Mee Siam recipe

Step 6 - While the sauce simmers in the other pot, clean and dry the wok and add the coconut milk and heat until bubbling. Add the remaining onion purée (I know it sounds strange to add it to coconut milk but trust me) and the other half of the dried prawn powder. Simmer for about 5 minutes until the onion is softened and then add the chopped prawn meat and sliced tofu. Cook until prawns have just turned pink and opaque. Add the bean sprouts and fry until starting to soften and then add the noodles and fry until coated adding in some of the reserved dried prawn water if needed.

Mee Siam recipe

Step 7 - Turn the noodles out onto a serving bowl and pour the sauce over. Sprinkle with chives, wedges of lime and boiled eggs and serve immediately.

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