Don’t let the name fool you…Singapore Noodles are in fact not necessarily native to Singapore. You can find the dish on most menus in Cantonese style restaurants, mainly in Hong Kong, and also in American Chinese style restaurants but if you go to Singapore and expect Singapore Noodles at a Singaporean restaurant, you will be sorely disappointed.
I only discovered this culinary tidbit recently, thankfully before I ever traveled to Singapore and would have looked like the slightly ignorant tourist. For whatever reason, Singapore entered my travel radar this past weekend and so paired with Indian samosas (I made these with Singapore’s famous Little Indian neighborhood in mind), I whipped up Singapore noodles (I love any opportunity I have to use my wok that I received for Christmas). I even was able to obtain a bottle of Madras curry powder from a local Oriental market. If you’re not familiar with it, Madras curry is fairly hot (read YES), is red in color and uses A LOT of chili powder. However, the name Madras curry is not used in India but rather was invented by scheming restaurants in Britain. I learned from my research on Madras curry that it was said to have originated in southern India and gets its name from the city of Madras (which is now known as Chennai) when English merchants arrived there in the mid-17th century. In my opinion, Chennai curry just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it nor is it as easy to pronounce.
(recipe from Edmonton Journal, 18 Jan 2006: F1 Front)
-4 fresh shiitake mushrooms
-6 ounces fine dry rice vermicelli
-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
-1 1/2 tablespoons Madras (hot) curry powder, or curry paste
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
-2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
-2 teaspoons sugar
-1 teaspoon hot chili paste
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
-1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
-1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
-1/2 cup thinly sliced green pepper
-1/2 cup bean sprouts, rinsed and well-drained
-2 green onions, root ends trimmed, white and green parts cut into 2-inch pieces
-6 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
-1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
-1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce (I omitted this)
-1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Remove and discard woody stems of shiitake mushrooms. Slice the caps thin.
Put vermicelli in a heatproof bowl with enough very hot water to cover the noodles. Soak until softened. Drain well. Using kitchen scissors, cut the noodles to shorter lengths, 4 to 5 inches. Loosen noodles and spread them on a dishtowel to dry.
To make curry sauce: Put 1 tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add curry powder or paste, half of the minced garlic, and cook 20 seconds. Add broth, soy sauce, sugar, chili paste, and salt. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the wok over high heat. When oil is hot, add chicken and stir fry just until cooked, 3 or 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to the vegetables.
Heat remaining oil in the pan over high heat. When oil is hot, add shrimp and stir fry just until cooked 1 to 2 minutes. Return chicken and vegetables to the wok, add noodles, curry sauce from step 3, oyster sauce and cilantro. Toss well to mix thoroughly. Serve immediately.
(Serves 3 or 4 as a main course, or 4-6 as an appetizer)