Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Fried Beehoon with Wild Garlic ("Singapore Noodles" the way we really do it at home)


Say "Singapore noodles" to any Singaporean and you're most likely met with a withering smile and an impatient sigh. It's funny how that has become the defining dish of a country who has the most amazing array of fried noodles-- char kway teow (move over pad thai!), fried hokkien mee, mamak-style mee goreng, just to name a few for you to get your research and salivary glands going-- the worst part being, that it doesn't exist in Singapore. We do have a lot of fried beehoon (rice vermicelli) dishes though, and to be honest, it's often a simple last-minute one-pan stirfry done at home by busy mums, so simple and homey that I've never come to appreciate the art of frying beehoon. I used to end up with clumpy beehoon that stuck to the pan until I phoned mum for help. Her method involves soaking the dried rice noodles in cold water for an hour first, till pliable, before frying. I kept virtuously to her teachings until I watched a shortcut used by my favourite chinese chef which yielded the same results.




Basic method sorted, the flavours and ingredients to add are up to you, ranging from beansprouts to leftover stewed pork belly (my mum's secret weapon to her beehoon). I used dried shrimps, shiitake mushrooms, omelette strips, and wild garlic. Wild garlic's kind of like the wild relative of chinese chives. It has lush green leaves which smell of garlic, with a slight hint of onion, but is much more delicate. It's everywhere now that it's spring, and if you're a forager, go grab your free greens while you can. I was just reading about susan's wild garlic adventures, but alas, I'm not a seasoned forager nor have I gotten any tip-offs; mine were from the farmer's market.


FRIED BEEHOON WITH WILD GARLIC
serves 1-2
Ingredients
100g dried beehoon (thin rice vermicelli noodles)
1 free-range egg, beaten
handful of dried shiitake mushrooms
handful of dried shrimps
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch of wild garlic
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp natural dark soy sauce (I mix a traditionally fermented shoyu+ 1 tsp blackstrap molasses)
unrefined sea salt, white pepper
1 tsp fried shallot oil (or toasted sesame oil)

Method
1. Soak the dried mushrooms and shrimps in the warm water along with the dark soy sauce. As the mushrooms plump up (30 min), they take in the sweet soy sauce juices. At the same time, this mushroom-shrimp-flavoured soaking water will form the cooking broth for your beehoon to cook in later.
2. Prepare rice vermicelli (see above). Lower into boiling water with a drop of oil and a pinch of salt. Parboil for a minute. Drain onto a dish and cover to let steam while you prep and fry your ingredients (about 5 min).
3. Make a thin crepe-like omelette. Beat egg with a pinch of salt and pepper, then pour into a small heated frying pan, let set then flip when golden. Slice into strips. Drain the mushrooms and slice too.
4. Over a medium-hot pan, fry the chopped garlic and shrimps in lard till fragrant, then add the mushrooms, stir-frying for a min or so before adding the soaking liquid, sesame oil, and plenty of white pepper.
5. Bring everything to a bubbling simmer and then add the clump of beehoon (yes it will form one bouncy lump but don't fret), keep shaking and loosening with the chopsticks* all the while as the thirsty noodles soak up all that delicious flavoured broth and finish cooking.
It will happen very quickly, be careful not to overcook or everything will end up clumping again and sticking. Watch video for mental prep.
6. Toss in the wild garlic towards the end to wilt, give a quick final toss with the omelette strips and dish up immediately.

*With careful calculations given to avoiding more washing up, you can essentially use that single pair of chopsticks from start to finish-- beating the eggs, frying the ingredients, tossing the noodles, and finally, eating your meal.



Done right, you will be rewarded with loose(松), flowing strands of rice vermicelli, each noodle plump with more-ish flavours from the broth. The tender leaves of wild garlic impart a mild oniony-garlicky element that goes perfectly with stir-fried noodles; I pronounce it a more-than-worthy local and seasonal substitute for chinese chives. This is more like "Singapore noodles" to me, a nostalgic reminder of after-school lunches, class outings, and family potlucks.

57 comments:

  1. Lovely pictures and I really like the new blog look - especially the little grapics!

    ReplyDelete
  2. loving the new look blog Shu Han, almost as much as I love a quick snack of economical bee hoon on a whim (the name, so funny and peculiarly honest to non-Singaporeans!)

    it's so strange, since we've been back in the uk, how many things I've seen in supermarkets and cookbooks calling themselves "Singapore noodles" and I wonder what on earth that is, or claiming to be laksa (but without any ingredients in common with laksa). Very funny.

    Singaporean food is so good that its reputation may suffer by poor imitation. The Sing govt should implement a protected geographical system like they have in some European countries (ooh - can you imagine the debates that would break out between Singapore, Penang, Malacca... on second thoughts, maybe not such a good idea!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was totally perplexed when I came here and saw Singapore noodles in the supermarket ready foods section. And I alternate between feeling annoyed and just plain amused when i watch shows like Masterchef where any coconut milk based noodle-y broth is called laksa. Haha. Glad you understand.

      Actually that sounds like a pretty good idea. Fried carrot cake deserves PDO status haha.

      Delete
  3. Also - I love Singapore fried noodles, in it's greasy, curry-flavoured glory! It's a guilty pleasure of mine. These look infinitely better, of course!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, the same way I like the very british, very un-Indian chicken tikka masala, hah. Nothing against singapore noodles, it just needs another name maybe!

      glad you like the graphics (:

      Delete
  4. This blog entry is superb! Loving the additional illustrations (humour included) and how you put the pictures together :) There's a Jamie Oliver growing inside you :>

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mmmmm! I love noodles ... the parboil/steam/finish in broth method is a new one on me ... so clever and flavourful! Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heh I wasn't the clever one, it's by watching the chinese chef ah ji shi. He's a brilliant little fatherly figure, great tips and jolly fun (:

      Delete
  6. Wow this looks amazing! (Both the blog and the recipe!) I LOVE the graphics. Next time we go foraging I'll tweet you! Xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks susan! Omg please do I will instantly appear beside you with a knife.

      Delete
  7. I'll be sure to try this method. Where I live every large supermarket has an "American" section, full of stuff I've never heard of or wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole, so I have some appreciation for the noodle situation.
    Wild garlic is everywhere here right now - look for partly shaded areas such as open woods (avoid dog poop!) or under mature lilacs. The only concern is that the leaves look a lot like Lily of the Valley, which is poisonous. Identification is simple: the edible stuff smells strongly of garlic/onion when you snap of a leaf tip, and the flowers don't. By the same token the leaves must be handled gently or they'll bruise and leave everything smelling of garlic evermore! I like it chiffonaded in a quiche with shrimp, or it makes a good pesto.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Watch the video I linked up too for more mental prep if you're still scared. It's in chinese but the images will speak for themselves (:

      Ok you got me feeling slightly more worried about hunting down these wild garlic. What if it's cold and my nose is blocked and I end up with Lily of the Valley in my dinner :/ But thanks for all those tips, esp about handling the leaves gently! I've used it in a pesto too, it's brilliant, just makes everything even more wonderfully garlicky (:

      Delete
  8. I always order Singapore noodles whenever I go out for Chinese - I had a suspision that they weren't authentic! I love the addition of fresh garlic in this. It sounds so tasty that I think that I'm going to have to stop by the supermarket on the way home and pick up some rice noodles to make this for my dinner!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, you guessed right!

      Great to hear you're inspired(: Oh and it would be the dried rice noodles, not the fresh; some supermarkets carry fresh rice noodles, for which you would just stir fry directly!

      Delete
  9. Yum Yum! This looks amazing, I fell in love with the first picture. Thanks for sharing the recipe :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Enjoyed this post! I love Singapore noodles! You did a good job of making the dish look so easy. Thanks for sharing. And thanks for visiting my blog. I enjoyed yours, too!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Shu Han,

    Lovely post and great to hear about your noodles-delicious sounding!

    The other plant that people commonly pick by mistake for Wild Garlic are Bluebells-before they flower of course! Wild garlic leaves if they are to be eaten should be picked before they flower. Once they have flowers-which are lovely to eat in a salad-then the leaves are a little tough to eat but are great to wrap around fish and then steam.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that's what I heard from ted, from whom I got the wild garlic. he says it's only going to be in season for 3 weeks more or so, because then they flower. but good to know you can then eat the salads! and very intrigued by the wrapping around fish idea! reminds me of the way we do it back home, with banana leaves!

      Delete
  12. Love the new outlook of your blog , very quirky and I also like the usage of wild garlic with this beehoon dish :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh yes you are right! The "Singapore noodles" that does not even exist, appears quite often in Asian deli. overseas.

    My family's version in Singapore is usually cabbage, carrots and sometimes with shrimps/shredded chicken.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wow that looks amazing, I so miss this dish I always had this when I lived in Malaysia

    ReplyDelete
  15. now THIS is going to be made at Belleau Cottage... The Viking and I adore rice noodles and the wild garlic will be ready to pick in a week or so, so there will be no holding me back... I cannot wait... thank you SO much for sharing... this is bookmarked!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh I'm so excited for you too! it's funny though, I heard the wild garlic is going to flower in about a couple of weeks time and then it'd be no good :/ I guess that's why pple go mad for it when it's around, the season's so short!

      Delete
  16. Next year, should you wish to have some wild garlic for your garden, drop me a line. I will swap.......for 'singapore noodles'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. no garden unfortunately, I don't think they grow very well on the windowsill, hur

      Delete
  17. Gorgeous recipe. I found some wild garlic this week while walking but was too unsure to pick some. I took a photo and a foraging friend comfirned it! I will have to go back and get some now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I need to know more foraging friends ): I'm so jealous of all these tip-offs people get!

      Delete
  18. Oh my! I'm gonna make these yummy noodles today! Actually I did soak the beehoon before frying them! Great to know another way of cooking them & I love garlic too. Always love char kway teow, fried hokkien mee & mamak-style mee goreng is a must! LOL BTW, love the new look of your blog! AWESOME! :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Love wild garlic - it used to be quite prolific in a forest near my house in England, though you don't see it quite so much I find in France. Apparently people often get confused and pick bluebell leaves when harvesting it themselves, lol :D

    Looks like a great dish - yummy and flavoursome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm quite sure it's wild garlic season over in france soon (: I wouldn't worry too much about picking bluebell leaves, I'm more worried about picking lily of the valley leaves :/

      Delete
  20. munaty: thank you!

    elizabeth: thanks, for the "singapore noodles" you love though, you might want to add a pinch of curry powder

    j: thank you!

    angsarap: it's definitely a singaporean/malaysian favourite (:

    ReplyDelete
  21. I am not sure if I have tried fried beehoon your way, sounds awesome though. I love char kway teow, even when I know what goes in it:)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi Shu Han!

    Thats a great tip with the pre soaking so that they dont stick on. Thats the reason actualy why I dont cook this type of noodles, its too sticky. I ll follow your advice and try this soon out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hey helene, it should never be sticky! you can either presoak, OR do the parboil method I described, don't do both at once!

      Delete
  23. this looks FABULOUS - thanks for the great recipe and tips! Wow, my mouth is watering!

    ReplyDelete
  24. wow this fried beehoon dish looks absolutely delicious! I'd love to learn more about the wild garlic you used because I've never seen it here in NY. Is it something exclusive to certain region?
    It's funny that you mentioned about cooking with lard. A lot of people from where I grew up still use lard regularly. Personally I have not used much lard in my daily cooking because the culture and this whole healthy diet concept in the US BUT I always have a small box of lard stored in my freezer should the occasion calls for it...and i think your recipe will be one of them :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually prefer using saturated fats for cooking, they remain stable at high heat, unlike vegetable oils, which turn rancid at high temperatures, and in the first place, are very unnatural products that arise out of heavy processing. groundnut oil is ok, though I would just stick to lard/coconut oil/ghee, as they have great flavour too!

      Delete
  25. This mee hoon is making my mouth water..especially the mushrooms.. nothing beats chinese stir fry ;).. Have a good week ahead Shu Han and take care!! xoxo, Jo

    ReplyDelete
  26. Looking fantastic..can't wait more to eat this !!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Haha! There is a self-service here making quite good Asian-inspired dishes and among them "Singapore chicken", which is delicious, but I'm pretty sure nothing to to with Singapore (or maybe I'm wrong?). It's stir-fried with bell peppers, cashew nuts and it has a very dark thick soy-sauce based sauce (I think lots of dark soy sauce).
    The noodles look luscious! I love wild garlic (isn't it called ransom too in Britain? I posted two wild garlic recipes last year and intend to post some more (wild garlic pesto and tiny puff pastry "cushions" filled with it, both turned out delicious!). It has only started to appear here so I'll remember your recipe and use them in stir-fries. There is a danger of foraging if you don't use your nose in checking the leaves: they look very similar to lily-of-the-valley leaves, which are toxic.

    ReplyDelete
  28. farine: thanks!

    chic& gorgous treats: thank you! I love shiitake mushrooms too! they just add so much flavour!

    shiratak noodlesi: thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  29. I love beehoon!! Nice illustrations!
    Liking this new clean design too!

    ReplyDelete
  30. this looks absolutely delicious! + i love your combination of photos + illustrations. what a chic blog you have - will definitely be back!!

    ReplyDelete
  31. This looks so yummy- I wish I had some right now. Thanks for the tutorial on the rice noodles. Will be trying this.

    ReplyDelete
  32. a simple beehoon when come in your hand, it look so elegance! By the way, are you changing your blog format? i have hard time to read the post as the font size is too small..^_^

    ReplyDelete
  33. my cooking hut: thank you! I'm experimenting, so really appreciate all the feedback!

    amy: thanks amy, I'm really pleased, hope to see you more!

    sarah: glad it helped (:

    sonia: just did! is it clearer now??

    ReplyDelete
  34. I love the drawing-it easly explained the method!nice idea!

    Life and travelling
    Cooking

    ReplyDelete
  35. Brilliant - I do miss bee hoon and what a great idea to fry it with wild garlic!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Hi Shu Han,

    Stumbled on your blog a few nights ago while googling for a sambal chilli recipe. Saw you writing about your favourite Chinese chef in this post and was wondering if we have a common idol! True enough it is 啊基师! Wow! Looks like we have some things in common =). I have most of his books from shopping trips in Taiwan. Do let me know if you are keen to borrow them whenever you are back!
    Cheers and keep on cooking (and writing)!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello! REALLY?! Are you in singapore or london? Would love to take a look at his books, probably need to polish up my chinese haha. You keep on cooking too (: Let me know how the sambal goes!

      Delete
    2. Yes really! I've been back in Singapore for a few years already. Was studying in Sydney where the basic necessity of learning how to cook became a passion and now an obsession. Wished you had started writing then, could have ripped off some recipes from you!

      Made my own sambal some time back, so much work! I've found a pretty neat sambal from NTUC so I don't need to make my own anymore. =P

      Do drop me a note to my email if you don't mind. Would love to chat with u. Don't worry about your chinese, the books come with DVDs too!

      BTW, seen the following interviews of him?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lB7XxTJCXsQ

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpQ5zifSqOs&list=PL05C8717076EA5D35&index=76&feature=plpp_video

      Notice he reads Thomas Keller's The French Laundry cookbook? WOW!

      Cheers,
      Sean
      seantay@yahoo.com

      Delete
    3. Homemade sambal is PHWOAR though, I think the second closest you can get is to go beg and sweet talk your favourite malay stall auntie, haven't tried any from ntuc!

      Wow, didn't realise he's so open and well-read. Thanks for the fanboy links ;)

      Delete
  37. This is fabulous. I've done this twice already, and nothing has tasted like home more. Thanks so much for the detailed instructions and corresponding diagram! I never had successful bee hoon either.. until this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Woo!! So glad for you! Thanks for letting me know :)

      Delete
  38. This is a wonderful article. I would like to suggest you that please keep sharing such type of info. Thanks. I really found this to much informatics. It is what i was searching for.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I desired to thank you for this exceptional read!! I absolutely enjoyed every single small little bit of it.
    plak beha kopen

    ReplyDelete