I don’t know how curry-flavoured rice noodles came to be called Singapore noodles. It’s not a dish that originated there, and curry powder – the main flavouring – isn’t something you would not normally associate with the Lion City.
But Singapore noodles can be delicious. They are quite economical to make, too, which makes them a popular offering on the menus of inexpensive Chinese restaurants – the dish is mostly noodles with some vegetables and a few pieces of char siu and shrimp.
Some versions can be overwhelmed with curry powder, which, because of the ground turmeric, gives the noodles a bright yellow colour. This version has a lighter touch with the curry powder (although you can add more, if you like) and is slightly spicy because it has chilli flakes (again, you can add more if you like).
In Hong Kong, fresh shrimp – swimming in tanks – are sold in neighbourhood wet markets and even some grocery stores, but if it’s easier for you, buy fresh or frozen peeled shrimp. If you can find only larger shrimp (with bodies of 5cm/2 in or more), slice them in half.
I use the Koon Yick Wah Kee brand of curry powder, which is made in Hong Kong, but use whatever type you like.
Put the rice vermicelli in a wide bowl, add warm water to cover and leave to soak for about 30 minutes, or until pliable.
While the noodles are soaking, prepare the other ingredients. Halve the onion, then slice it about 3mm (⅛in) thick. Remove and discard the seeds and stem from the bell pepper, then cut it into thin strips about 4cm (1½in) long. Finely julienne the carrot. Remove and discard the tough strings from the mangetout (snow peas), then cut them on the diagonal into pieces about 1cm (7/16in) wide. Mince the spring onions.
Cut the char siu into matchstick pieces. If using fresh shrimp, remove the heads, shells and tails. With all types of shrimp, cut a slit down the back and remove the vein.
In a small bowl, stir together the fish sauce, curry powder, chilli flakes, sugar, half a teaspoon of salt and 15ml of warm water.
Whisk the eggs with a pinch of salt in a bowl. Lightly oil a skillet about 20cm (8in) in diameter and place it over a medium flame. When the pan is hot, pour in half the egg. Swirl the pan so the egg is in a thin layer, then let it cook undisturbed until the surface is set. Slide or lift the egg out of the pan onto a flat work surface, then cook the remaining egg the same way. Stack the egg crepes and roll them into a cylinder, then cut into 5mm (¼in) strips.
Heat a wok over a high flame. Pour about 15ml (1tbsp) of oil into the wok, then swirl it so it is coated. Add the onion and cook for about a minute, or until it starts to wilt, then add the bell pepper. Stir-fry for another minute, then add the carrot and mangetout. Sprinkle with salt, then stir-fry until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl or plate.
Put the wok (no need to wash it) over a high flame and add 15ml (1tbsp) of oil. When the oil is hot, add the char siu and shrimp and stir-fry for about 30 seconds.
Drain the rice noodles in a colander and shake off the excess moisture before adding them to the wok. Drizzle in the fish sauce mixture. Use chopsticks and a wok spatula to lift and stir the ingredients to mix them so the noodles are lightly but evenly coated with the seasonings and the shrimp and char siu are evenly distributed. Taste the noodles to check if they are tender and sufficiently seasoned. If necessary, mix in more seasonings. If the noodles are too firm, drizzle about 30ml (2tbsp) of water into the wok, turn the flame to medium, cover with the lid and cook for about a minute or until the noodles are tender, mixing occasionally.
Add the vegetables, egg and spring onion and mix well.
Transfer the ingredients to a dish and serve.