Mee Siam goreng is a rich, fried rice vermicelli noodle dish with bold flavours. It can be spicy and is enjoyed with strips of omelette, chives, maybe some sambal and the obligatory freshly squeezed lime juice.
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
What is Mee Siam Goreng?
Let’s break it down, shall we?
- Mee = noodles
- Siam = the old name for Thailand
- Goreng = fried, to fry
- Kuah (bonus, next section) = gravy, sauce
Pronounced Mee Si-Yum Go-Rayng (go, as in Monopoly Go!)
Mee goreng means fried noodles, but this generally refers to yellow noodles that have been stir-fried. To differentiate between the 2, we say mee siam goreng when referring to this popular rice vermicelli noodle dish, which makes it gluten free.
Dry Fried Mee Siam
Because we have a wet mee siam too! The other mee siam is called mee siam kuah, mee siam basah or mee siam Singapore, as it’s also known in many parts of Malaysia. It’s lightly spiced, fried rice vermicelli served in gravy or spiced soup, if you like.
You can find my mee siam kuah recipe by clicking on the button below.
You can find dry fried rice vermicelli noodles all over South East Asia. It’s also known as fried bee hoon or bihun, and you may have also heard of the Filipino pancit bihon.
What differentiates the Singaporean or Malaysian mee siam goreng is the spice paste that we use, or rempah, as we call it in Malay. Incidentally. the Malays, Nyonyas and Eurasians in these two countries use this word when talking about spice paste. And even some Indians and Chinese.
Dry Mee Siam Goreng Recipe
I’ve always identified these noodles as a Malay dish. However, the Nyonya community also lays claim to it, but if truth be told, you won’t really find a whole lot of difference between the two.
It is a straightforward recipe, although there are a few easy parts to it. This is what we’ll be doing.
1. Soaking of Ingredients
We soak the noodles, the dried red chillies, the dried shrimp and tamarind. More on the noodles below. The dried red chillies need to be soaked before they will grind.
I don’t usually soak dried shrimp these days before using. However, I do it here, as I love adding the shrimp soaking liquid to our noodles when frying, for added flavour.
The tamarind pulp needs to be soaked before the juice can be extracted. Nothing beats this traditional method. But if you prefer, use shop bought tamarind paste.
2. Make the Spice Paste (Rempah)
We then chop up the paste ingredients in a food chopper or processor. Really, no one uses the pestle and mortar for this much. Not the hawkers and certainly not many cooks, modern or otherwise. My grandma was using food processors to make her spice pastes in the 70s.
3. Fry the Tofu
Fried tofu is a big part of this noodle dish. You can use ready fried tofu pieces from the supermarket or puffed tofu pieces called taupok from East Asian stores.
But I like to fry slices of tofu for this, because I much prefer them with my mee siam goreng. This is only a 3-4 minute job that includes slicing the fresh tofu.
4.Fry the Omelette
Our fried mee siam is served with strips of omelette. So we get this done before frying the noodles. All we do is fry thin pieces of omelette, roll them up, then cut them in strips. You’ll see me doing this in the video.
5. Fry up the Noodles
Now it’s time to get really cooking. We start by frying our spice paste for a good 10 – 15 minutes to reach the stage where the oil separates from the paste. In Malay, we call this pecah minyak, something I addressed in our Nasi Lemak article.
- pecah = to break, broken
- minyak = oil
This is absolutely crucial, no cheating here. This long, frying time contributes to that bold flavour that is a must for the best mee siam goreng flavour.
10 minutes or 15, I explain in the recipe card.
This is what mee siam is, so you absolutely must have these. They are very, very easy to come by as long as you have an East Asian store near you or access to online shopping.
Here in the UK, our larger supermarkets even stock fresh rice vermicelli, which means no soaking required. Just be sure to get the plain ones, and not the ones coated in curry powder sold as “Singapore Noodles”.
How to Soak Rice Vermicelli Noodles?
I have a simple method for this.
If I’m serving the noodles in gravy, like in mee siam kuah, I soak them in hot water for a few short minutes.
However, if I’m frying up the noodles as in today’s recipe, I soak them in room temperature water. Now this is all relative depending on where you live.
Think of it as Goldilocks water – not hot and not cold! Technically, it would be around 25 Celsius (78F). So top up your ice cold tap water with a little hot water to bring it up to water that is neither warm nor cool.
Why? Because rice vermicelli noodles that are soaked in hot water are more prone to breaking when stir-fried. When you soak them in room temperature water, they retain their integrity, and you have nice long strands, that don’t get clumpy or mushy.
But you have to take this into account when frying them up, as they won’t cook in seconds as the hot water noodles. You may have to add a little more liquid to get them to the right cooked texture.
Spice Paste (Rempah)
The spice paste is what differentiates mee siam goreng from a regular old fried bee hoon dish. We’ve got:
- dried red chillies (fresh can be used instead, see below)
- dried shrimp (udang kering in Malay)
- taucheo (salted soybeans)
Dried Red Chillies
You can also use fresh chillies if you like. However, dried chillies have a deeper and earthier flavour than fresh. Use the same number of chillies.
Called udang kering in Malay, these are essential in South East Asian cooking. You’ll also find them in East Asian stores and certainly on Amazon and online Asian grocers. Click here to get it on Amazon (affiliate link).
Some people also use shrimp paste (belacan), but I’ve never done so.
Many, many people will fry up their mee siam without any vegetables, and that’s what I’ve done here. However, it is not uncommon to use that ubiquitous stir-fry vegetable – beansprouts. You could also throw in a handful of spinach leaves if you fancy some green.
But that’s as far as you should go if you want to cook up an authentic mee siam goreng the way we do in Singapore and Malaysia.
I’ve given both vegetables as options in the recipe card below.
There’s always some sort of protein in this fragrant fried vermicelli dish. It’s usually a combination of prawns (shrimp) and tofu.
You can also use chicken if you like.
Besides the spice paste, the flavouring for our mee siam goreng is also provided by taucheo, the irresistible sweet-sour tamarind, a little tomato paste and some sugar.
Now if you’ve been a long time follower of LinsFood, you’ll know that I like to combine flavourings into a single bowl and pour it all at the same time into the wok. This makes the cooking process easier and stops the noodles from overcooking.
That’s what I’ve done here.
Taucheo (or Taucu)
This is salted and fermented soya beans and adds richness and depth to our noodles. I have a diy recipe here, if you fancy making your own.
You can read more here and find substitute ideas in the form of other yellow bean pastes or even miso paste, in a pinch. You absolutely need the flavour that these fermented soybeans impart, if you want to cook up this authentic Singaporean dish.
We lighty mash the taucheo before using. My mum wasn’t a fan of bits of these fermented beans in her noodles, and would always add the taucheo to the spice paste.
Vegan Mee Siam Goreng
It’s pretty easy to convert this recipe to a vegan one. We need to lose the prawns and shrimps, the fresh and the dried.
Let’s do the fresh prawns (shrimp) first. You can substitute this with more tofu, tempeh or just some stir-fry friendly vegetables like shredded cabbage, carrots and green beans.
The dried shrimp are a little more complicated. They are responsible for a big part of the flavour in these noodles. If you’ve been a long time LinsFood follower, you’ll know that my go-to vegan umami ingredient is shiitake.
To make vegan mee siam goreng, leave out the dried shrimp in the spice paste and replace it with at least 100g (3.5 oz) fresh shiitake, ideally 150g (about 5 oz).
You don’t want dried shiitake as they’ll have a smoky flavour that’s just not welcome in our Malay and Nyonya fried noodles.
How to Serve Mee Siam Goreng?
Garnishes are an important part of noodles. Depending on the noodle dish, this can be as conservative or as elaborate as you like.
We usually serve Mee Siam goreng with just some calamondin limes (or regular lime wedges), strips of omelette, Chinese chives (called daun kuchai in Malay) and a dollop of sambal. Regular chives will work too.
- daun = leaf
- kuchai = chives
You could serve hard-boiled eggs, if you prefer that to omelettes. Cut them in halves or quarters.
Any leftovers will keep in the fridge, covered, for a day. Heat it up by stir-frying in in a wok with a tablespoon or two of water. Or, my preferred method is just in the microwave oven. One portion will only need 2 minutes, stirred halfway through.
And there you go, all the ins and outs of cooking the best mee siam goreng ever! Shall we get going?
If you enjoy the recipe, drop me a comment and let me know. And if you are feeling like a star, don’t forget that 5-star rating! 😉Thank you!
If you make this recipe, post it on Instagram or Facebook and tag me @azlinbloor and hashtag it #linsfood.
Mee Siam Goreng Recipe
- 300 g dried rice vermicelli noodles
- room temperature water as needed for soaking noodles
- 200 g tofu
- 125 ml vegetable oil
- 200 g prawns
- 100 g beansprouts optional
- 60 g garlic chives (or regular chives or spring onions/scallions)
- 8 calamansi limes or 2 regular ones
- 3 eggs whatever size
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 10 dried red chillies or 10 fresh
- 60 g dried shrimp
- hot water, just off the boil, as needed for soaking
- 1 medium onion (about 120g/4 oz pre peeled weight)
- 4 garlic cloves (about 25g/1 oz)
Soak the Noodles
- Place your dried rice vermicelli into a large bowl and cover completely with room temperature water, as discussed in the article above.Leave to soak for 1 hour, while you get everything else ready.
Soak the Chillies, Dried Shrimp and Tamarind
- Dried Chillies. Fill a kettle about half full and turn it on. Or completely full, depending on the size.Cut the dried red chillies into 2 -3 pieces with a pair of scissors straight into a bowl.
- Pour the hot water onto the dried chillies, cover, and soak for 20 minutes, or until needed, whichever is longer.
- Dried Shrimp. Give the dried shrimp a quick rinse and place in a bowl. Top with a generous amount of hot water (about ½ a cup) and leave to soak until needed, at least 15 minutes.
- Tamarind. Place the tamarind pulp (if using) into a bowl, and top with 125 ml (½ cup) of hot water from the kettle. Leave to soak for 10 minutes, no need to cover.
- At the end of 10 minutes, when it should be cool enough to handle, mash it all up with your fingers and fish out all the fibrous pulp and bits of shell, as much as you can.I prefer not to strain the tamarind juice, as you'll miss out on all the flavour if you do. The odd bit of pulp is perfectly fine.
Fry the Tofu
- Cut up the tofu into little pieces about 2.5cm/1" long. See image/video.
- Heat the oil in a wok or deep frying pan (you'll be frying the noodles in the same wok/pan) on medium heat.
- Pat dry the tofu pieces with kitchen paper and tip carefully into the hot oil Be careful, tofu, no matter how much you pat dry, is still going to be wet.Fry for 1 minute on each side.
- Get the fried tofu out of the hot oil and place on a plate lined with kitchen paper.
Fry the Omelette
- Crack the eggs into a medium-sized bowl and add the salt.
- Whisk the eggs lightly with a fork, as you would when frying a regular omelette. No need to go crazy here.
- Heat 1 Tbsp of the tofu oil in a small frying pan (about 20cm/8") and fry up 2 thin omelettes.
- Tip the cooked omelette onto a chopping board. When cool enough to handle, roll them up and slice into thin strips.Cover until needed, so they don't dry up.
Make the Spice Paste (Rempah)
- Drain the soaked chillies and give them a quick rinse, shaking out the seeds, if you like. Place them in a chopper or blender.
- Drain the soaked dried shrimp, saving the liquid, and add to the blender.
- Peel and quarter the onion and add to the blender, along with the peeled garlic.
- Blend everything to a smooth paste, scraping the sides, and adding a little soaked shrimp liquid if necessary.
The Seasoning Sauce
- Tip the taucheo into a medium-sized bowl and lightly mash with a fork. So some beans will be mashed, some will be whole or halved.
- Add the rest of the seasoning ingredients and mix well. Set aside until needed.
Let's Cook our Mee Siam Goreng
- Heat the tofu oil in the same wok or deep frying pan on medium heat and fry the spice paste for at least 10 minutes, preferably 15.Reduce the heat to medium-low after 3 minutes.This is a very important step to get the best mee siam goreng. The spice paste is full of flavour and cooking it for this long period of time deepens the flavour and takes away the rawness of the paste.10 minutes is the minimum time you should be cooking it for. At 10 minutes, the spice paste would have lost its raw flavour and you can move on with the recipe.But going the whole 15 minutes will further deepen the flavour and your mee siam will thank you for it.Reduce the heat to low if your paste is catching too much (burning). You have to stir it pretty much continuously in the last 5 minutes or so to stop it from burning.
- Add the mee siam seasoning sauce and mix well. Cook for 1 minute on medium heat.
- Add the prawns and beansprouts (if using) and mix well. Cook the prawns for about 2 minutes until they are practically cooked. The odd tiny bit of rawness is fine here.
- Tip in the soaked and drained noodles. Using 2 spatulas and a lifting motion, mix everything up, coating the noodles with the spice paste/seasoning mix.I'm using cooking chopsticks and a spatula. Cooking chopsticks are much longer than regular ones.
- Cook the noodles for 5 minutes, lifting and mixing.Now we need to check for 2 things: the flavour and the doneness of the noodles.Taste your noodles and add more salt if necessary, or the shrimp liquid, as this will be salty.Check the texture of the noodles. They want to be cooked but still with a tiny bit of bite to them, kind of like al dente pasta. If your noodles are still pretty raw in texture, add 2-3 Tbsp of the shrimp liquid, mix and cook for another 3-5 minutes until they are done.If we had soaked our noodles in hot/warm water, the noodles will take no more than a minute to cook but they will be broken up and will also get stodgy if they cook even slightly longer than necessary.
- Finish off with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. 2-4 calamondins or 1 regular lime is perfect for this. Depends on how much you love lime juice on noodles. I use 4.
- Leave to rest for 5 minutes, while you chop the chives or spring onions into 5cm/2" lengths.Then drape the top of your noodles with the strips of omelette. Or "throw" them over haphazardly.Scatter the chopped Chinese chives (or regular) or spring onions all over and serve with the rest of the calamondin limes or regular lime wedges and sambal.