Mee Siam comes in wet and dry versions. So far, I have only eaten the dry version before.
I do not know if it comes from Thailand or Siam, back in those days, but Mee Siam is the name of this spicy tangy fried noodle. I did not cook this the ‘traditional’ way because I made a prawn broth with the prawn shells to flavour the noodles. Fried prawn shells , especially the heads, have a wonderful flavour, that I believe should not be wasted in cooking this noodle.
My recipe isn’t spicy, I didn’t feel that it’s spicy even though I used 10 dried chillies, so feel free to use more, and make it look even redder.
My method sounds tedious, but I just like to maximise flavour extraction. One can of course, fry everything together, but I won’t.
Dry Mee Siam
400gm dried rice vermicelli
400gm prawns, to be peeled, tail intact and reserve the prawn shells
10 stalks Chinese chives, cut into 1.5inches long
3 cups beansprouts (as much as you prefer)
2 Tbsp dried shrimp (30gm), soak, drain well and grind to resemble crumbs
10 dried chillies (It’s mild with 10, add more if you like), soaked, seeds removed
3 garlic cloves
10gm belacan (pinkie sized)
1 tsp salt or to taste
1 tsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp dark caramel sauce, as preferred
30gm tamarind pulp with seeds, soaked in 1/2 cup water and strained.
40gm fermented bean paste
3 Tbsp lime juice
3 eggs, to be made into omelette strips
4 shallots, sliced and to be fried until crispy
Sliced coriander or Chinese celery
Sliced red chilli
1. Soak rice vermicelli in cold water until softened. Drain. Marinate the prawns with 1/4 tsp salt and a bit of pepper.
2. Prepare prawn shell broth. Heat wok and put in 2 Tbsp of oil. Fry prawn shells until fragrant then out in 2.5 cups of water to simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and keep the broth. Make sure you have around 2 cups of broth.
3. Prepare spice paste. Grind everything to a paste.
4. Prepare omelette strips. Crack eggs, beat with a bit of salt. Then fry thin omelettes. Cut into strips when cooled.
5. Prepare fried shallots. Heat wok and put in 4 Tbsp of oil (1/4 cup) and gently fry the shallots until crispy. Dish up only the crispy shallots, retain the oil in wok.
6. Heat wok until hot. Put in prawns and fry them until they are cooked and their tails turning slightly golden. Remove from the wok. Lower the heat and put in ground dried shrimp and fry until fragrant and golden. Dish up and set aside.
7. With balance of oil in wok, cook the spice paste until it turns glossy. Add more oil if needed, too little oil and the spice paste won’t be nicely cooked. Add in bean paste and saute until fragrant. Then pour in tamarind juice, and prawn broth. Season with salt, sugar and dark caramel sauce. Put in dried shrimp. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Add in lime juice, and prawns. Taste it, it should be slightly oversalted, tangy and slightly sweet. Adjust the taste if needed.
8. Add in chinese chives and rice vermicelli. Toss the vermicelli around with to make sure the rice vermicelli is well coated with the gravy. Let the vermicelli cook until the gravy is almost all absorbed. Put in bean sprouts, mix it around. Let it cook for a minute then turn off the heat. Let the rice vermicelli rest for 10-15 minutes as it absorbs all the excess gravy, and turn dry.
9. Dish up and garnish with crisp shallots, omelette strips and chopped coriander and red chilli.
*Soak the noodles first. As it softens, cook prawn broth. Prepare spice paste as the prawn broth simmers. And drain noodles when you are ready to start frying the omelette.