Comfort Cooking

Covid-19 stay-home recipe: Spicy, tangy fried mee siam

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Rice vermicelli or beehoon is a staple that most home cooks would have in the pantry. If you want fried beehoon with spice and tang, try cooking fried mee siam.

As I did not have dried shrimp in my fridge, I used dried prawns instead.

While I have included the recipe for the spice paste, you can use store-bought mee siam paste if you want to simplify the recipe.

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5 red finger chillies (50g), sliced

2 chilli padi (7g, optional)

100g dried prawns, soaked and rinsed

4 Tbs coconut oil

80ml water

400g shallots

80g dried chilli, boiled until softened

4 Tbs assam jawa (tamarind pulp)

250ml water

50ml cooking oil

30g belacan powder

5 pieces of asam gelugor (dried sour fruit)

1 tsp sugar


1. Place the red finger chillies and chilli padi into the blender and blend.

2. Add the dried prawns, coconut oil and 80ml of water and blend.

3. Add the shallots. Pour out the mixture.


4. Add the dried chillies and continue blending into a paste. If your blender container is too small, blend the dried chillies separately, then add them to the dried prawn mixture. Set aside.

5. Soak the tamarind pulp in 250ml of water. Mix and strain. Discard the pulp and reserve the juice.

6. In a pan, heat the cooking oil over medium-low heat.

7. Add the spice paste and fry over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Add the belacan powder and stir-fry.

8. Add 3 Tbs of tamarind juice and asam gelugor and fry for another 15 minutes.

9. This recipe will yield around 400g of spice paste. Remove half (200g) from the pan and set aside to use for frying the mee siam.

10. For the remaining spice paste in the pan, season with sugar and add the remaining coconut oil. Turn off the heat and allow mixture to cool. Discard the asam gelugor. Use this spice paste as a condiment for the fried mee siam.


450g prawns

500ml water

120ml cooking oil

2 pieces of tau kwa (firm beancurd, halve each piece)

5 garlic cloves (30g), chopped

31/2 Tbs tau cheo (fermented soya bean paste)

200g spice paste (see recipe for spice paste)

400g dried beehoon (soaked until softened)

80ml tamarind juice

100g koo chye (garlic chives)

220g bean sprouts

2 red finger chillies (20g), sliced

2 green finger chillies (20g), sliced

100g crushed peanuts

6 limes


1. Shell and devein prawns, reserving the heads and shells.

2. Bring 500ml of water to a boil. Add prawn heads and shells. Boil for 15 minutes. Strain, discard prawn shells and reserve the prawn stock.

3. Heat 120ml of cooking oil over low heat and pan-fry the tau kwa until golden brown. Place on kitchen paper to strain excess oil. Once cool, cut into 1cm-thick cubes. Reserve 5 Tbs of the oil for frying the mee siam.

4. Heat 1 Tbs of oil and 1/2 tsp of chopped garlic.

5. Add the prawns before the garlic browns. Remove prawns from heat once they turn orange and opaque. Set aside.

6. Heat 4 Tbs of oil. Fry the remaining chopped garlic. Before the garlic browns, add the tau cheo. Fry for 30 seconds and add the spice paste.

7. Add the beehoon and use two pairs of chopsticks to toss noodles.

8. Add the tamarind juice and 300ml of the prawn stock. Toss intermittently until there is no visible moisture left.

9. Add the koo chye, bean sprouts, prawns and sliced chillies. Stir-fry for three minutes, then turn off the heat.

10. Garnish with crushed peanuts and lime before serving.

Serves six

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2020, with the headline 'Spicy, tangy one-dish meal'. Subscribe