It's a beautiful, cool New England night -- even the air smells like fall. The sun is notably lower in the sky now, which means I have to cook a little earlier (and faster) to photograph in natural light. Luckily, this evening's meal of Singapore Noodles was both easy to prep and cook, so I got some shots off before the sun set. This was such a delicious and perfect dinner for the end of a long week, I wonder why I don't stir-fry more often? So now a little more about this beautiful and interesting country that's on my top 10 list of places I'd love to visit.
Located in South East Asia off the southern tip of the Malay peninsula, Singapore is an island country made up of 63 islands and separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the Singapore Strait to the south. Singapore's earliest recorded history dates back to the 3rd century, but it was first settled in AD 1298-1299. During the 18th century, modern Singapore was founded. In 1819, Sir Thomas Stamford negotiated a deal to make Singapore a trading station, which attracted merchants from all over Asia, the Middle East and the U.S. When the Suez Canal opened in 1869, trade between the east and the west expanded even further, significantly increasing the population of Chinese, Indians and Malays. In 1941, Singapore was attacked and occupied by Japan during WWII, until Japan surrendered in 1945. For a year, Singapore was a Crown Colony, but in 1959, it finally achieved with independence.
An extremely multicultural and diverse country, there are 4 major ethnic groups and accompanying languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. The language of the indigenous people is Bahasa Melayu or Malay. It follows then, that cuisine in Singapore is equally interesting, yet hard to categorize, with South and North Indian, Cantonese and Malay traditions and influences. Following is but a small sampling of some of the food, dishes and spices that make Singapore so interesting: Vegetarian thali, naan, bri yani, spring rolls, noodles, dim sum, roasted meat, soup, chicken,rice, steamed seafood, coconut milk, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander chillies, ginger, turmeric, galangal root (I have some in my freezer!), lemon grass, curry leaves, shrimp paste, peanut sauce, bean curd and satay. There's not one thing in this list I wouldn't love to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Shrimp cut into small pieces and beef sliced super thin across the grain
Shittake mushrooms, sliced thin (I added extra)
Scallions and green beans, sliced on the diagonal
Curry - with crushed, dried red pepper added (I didn't have Madras curry)
Onions, sliced thin and crushed garlic
Rice Vermicelli noodles, soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes
Dry vermicelli noodles on a clean tea towel while heating the wok
Stir-fry mushrooms, onions and curry
Add vegetables, noodles and soy sauce - and that's it!
Singapore Noodles (Recipe Adapted from The Complete Stir-Fry, Edited by Helen Aitken)
150 grams (about 1/2 package) dried rice vermicelli
Oil for cooking
250 grams (8oz) beef, sliced super thin, across the grain
250 grams (8 oz) raw prawns, cut into small pieces
2 Tbsp. Madras curry powder (or regular curry powder with ground dried hot peppers added)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
100 grams (3-1/2 oz) shittake mushrooms, thinly, sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
100 grams (3-1/2 oz) green beans, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 Tbs. soy sauce
4 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- Place the vermicelli in a large bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 5 minutes. Drain well and spread out on a clean tea towel to dry.
- Heat the wok until very hot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and swirl it around to coat the side.
- Stir fry the beef and the prawn pieces in batches over high heat. Remove from the wok and set aside.
- Reheat the wok, add 2 tbsp. of the oil and stir fry the curry powder and garlic for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and onion and stir fry over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion and mushrooms are soft.
- Return the beef and prawn to the work, add the beans and 2 tsp. water, and toss to combine. Add the drained noodles, soy sauce and spring onion. Toss well and serve.
Final Assessment: As I said before, I don't know why I don't stir-fry more often, especially when this meal was so easy and required very little prep. I didn't have Madras curry, so I used a mortar and pestle to grind some very hot dried red chillies, which I added into the curry. It gave the noodles just the right amount of heat. This might be the first time I used curry in a stir-fry, but it was excellent. I used shrimp and beef, but the recipe could easily omit meat or seafood altogether and add more vegetables. A great one
pot wok meal that my kids gobbled up with chopsticks.
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