Singapore Noodles

Singapore noodlesWhen I was an actor at the Northwest Asian American Theatre in Seattle, the cast and crew would dine nightly after rehearsals and performances.  One of our favorite hangouts was Sea Garden Chinese Restaurant in the International District, where we’d eat ten-course meals at 11:00 p.m.!  One wonders now why we didn’t all weigh over 200 pounds.  Singapore noodles was one of my favorite dishes there.  I’ve read somewhere that you won’t find this dish in restaurants or hawker stalls in Singapore, so I’m not sure where the name comes from.  Can my Singaporean relatives enlighten me?


  • 1 6.5-oz package dried rice sticks (thin rice noodles) aka “mai fun”
  • ½ pound Chinese barbecued pork (“cha siu”) (if you don’t buy this at a Chinese grocery store, there is an easy recipe below)
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • ½ medium yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 8 oz bean sprouts.
  • ½ red bell pepper (I used green but red will give the dish more color)
  • ½ pound shrimp
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp  minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp sherry
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp curry powder (very yellow, get a brand with a high turmeric content)
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • Salt, pepper and light soy sauce to taste
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish

 Soak noodles in cold water for two hours.

 Barbecued pork

 If using store-bought barbecued pork, skip this step and proceed to the next section.

  •  1 ½ pounds boneless country style spareribs or marbled pork steaks (do not use tenderloin, as many American cooks do, it is too lean)
  • 2 tbp sherry
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • Few drops red food coloring (optional)

 Combine all ingredients except pork and mix well.  Pour marinade over pork and seal in a plastic bag.  Refrigerate for at least one hour and up to one day.    Remove pork from bag and discard marinade.  Bake pork on a broiler rack that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, over a foil lined pan in a preheated 500 degree oven for 15-18 minutes, or until brown.  Allow to cool and use ½ pound for this recipe.  Save the rest for other recipes or as an appetizer.

Finishing the noodle dish

Cut off and discard bulbs of green onions.  Cut all but one stalk into 2 inch lengths.  Split the thick base of the green onions in half lengthwise.  Put the 2 inch slices in your “vegetable bowl.”  Chop the remaining stalk and set it aside in your “garnish bowl.”  Peel and thinly slice onion; peel and mince garlic; wash and cut celery into thin diagonal slices; wash and stem pepper and cut into thin slices.  Add onion, garlic, celery and pepper to the vegetable bowl.  Wash and drain bean sprouts.  If you want, remove the straggly tails.  Set bean sprouts aside separate from the other vegetables.

Peel shrimp.  If they are large, cut them into small ½ inch pieces. Mix shrimp with cornstarch, sherry, 1 tsp. minced ginger and salt.   Dice barbecued pork into ½ inch sized pieces. Break eggs into a small bowl and beat them.

Drain the rice sticks in a colander.  Using clean kitchen scissors, snip through the drained noodles at various angles to cut them into shorter lengths of about 3 inches.

Heat up 1 tsp canola oil over high heat in a non-stick wok.  When oil is very hot, add the other tsp of minced ginger and contents of your vegetable bowl, 1 tsp sugar, and 2 tsp salt.  Stir fry one minute.  Add drained bean sprouts and stir fry one minute more.  Remove vegetables and return them to your vegetable bowl.  Heat up another tsp of oil until very hot, add shrimp and pork, stir fry one minute or until shrimp just turns pink.  Add cooked shrimp and pork to the vegetable bowl.  Toss in eggs and stir fry them, breaking them up.  When eggs are cooked, add them to the vegetable bowl.  Heat remaining 2 tsp oil and add curry powder.  When curry powder releases its cooked fragrance, add drained noodles, stir to evenly distribute spices and then add chicken broth.  Stir until broth evaporates and return all contents of the vegetable bowl to the pan and mix well.  Add salt, pepper and soy sauce to taste.  Use a light hand with the soy sauce, you want the noodles to retain their yellow color (my dish is too brown, not only because I used dark soy sauce but my curry powder also didn’t have enough turmeric).  Serve garnished with chopped green onion and cilantro.  Makes six servings.

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