theboywhoatetheworld cooks: Mee Siam (Spicy Rice Vermicelli)
As London enters deeper into the winter months and temperatures start to dip, I find myself turning to the chilli-based recipes of home for warmth. One such dish I often fall back on is my family’s ‘Mee Siam’ recipe. This Siamese-style noodle dish is a family staple that my godmother has been cooking up ever since my childhood days.
Inspired by flavours from neighbouring Thailand, the unique spice paste is made from a blend of fermented soya bean paste, chillies and lime juice. This is one recipe you can adapt based on what seafood or vegetables you have available in the fridge and store-cupboard (it’s one of those easy-come, easy-go recipes that would work just as well with chicken as it would with any kind of seafood you fancy). Don’t mess about with the spice paste though… it’s the key to this dish. Spicy, tangy and with a great depth of savoury flavour it’s a rockstar of winter warmer that’s dead-easy to make and sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Ingredients: Serves 4
- 400g of vermicelli (i used fresh, but if you are using dried noodles, pre-soak according to the pack instructions)
- 20 Raw King Prawns (shells and heads on)
- 100g Fresh White Crab meat (pre-cooked and picked)
- 1 pack of the mixed stir-fry vegetables (beansprouts, spring greens, peppers etc.)
- 3 – 4 table-spoons of cooking oil
- Salt and Soya sauce to taste
For the spice paste:
- 6 large red chillies (90g)
- 6 shallots (200g)
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 3 table-spoons of fermented soy bean paste (Known locally in Malaysia as ‘TauCheo‘. If you can’t find a South-East Asian brand stocked in your Asian grocer, Korean ‘Doenjang’ Soy Bean Paste works just as well)
- 2 table-spoons of Palm sugar
- 2 table-spoons of fish sauce (or soya sauce as a substitute)
- Juice of half a Lime (to taste)
- 1 egg (seasoned with a pinch of salt and white pepper and beaten into an omelette)
- 1 lime (cut into wedges)
- 1 red chilli (finely sliced)
- Small bunch of Spring onion and Coriander (roughly chopped)
- Peel the prawns and set aside. Reserve the prawn shells and prawn heads and simmer in 250ml of salted water for 10-15 minutes to make a shellfish stock. Strain the shells and heads and reserve the shellfish stock for later.
- Add all the spice paste ingredients into a food processor and blend to a fine paste.
- Add about a tablespoon of oil to a flat frying pan and make a thin omelette for the garnish. Once cooked, fold, set-aside and slice into thin strips.
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a wok, and saute the spice paste mix on a high heat for 7-8 minutes to bring all the flavours out, constantly stirring to prevent it from burning (add a bit more oil if the paste starts to get too dry)
- Add the prawns and fry briefly for half a minute on each side. Before it’s fully cooked, throw in the vegetables and cook for a further 1 – 2 minutes.
- Add the vermicelli noodles to the pan and mixing thoroughly with the prawns and vegetables. Add about 150ml of the shellfish stock made earlier and cook for a further minute or 2-3 minutes until the noodles have soaked up the liquid. The aim is to get a noodle that is relatively dry, but still moist to bite. Add half the picked crab meat (reserve half for garnish). Taste and adjust the seasoning with fish sauce and palm sugar to taste. Keep warm off the heat.
- Garnish with the sliced omelette, crab meat, lime wedges, red chilli and chopped coriander / spring onions.