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How-To

Singapore Noodles: A Cantonese Classic

Stir-fried noodles with a flavor bonus—pork tenderloin that leaves enough for dinner tomorrow night

Fine Cooking Issue 74
Photo: Scott Phillips
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Singapore noodles, an explosion of many flavors in one simple dish, reflects the dazzling mix of Asian cultures that is Singapore. Although the noodles bear Singapore’s name, they were actually invented by Cantonese chefs who were likely so taken with Singapore’s vibrant cultural mix that they wanted to create a dish to honor it.  

I was first introduced to Singapore noodles as a kid in Vancouver when a major influx of Asian immigrants moved to Canada in the early 1970s. I immediately fell in love with the varying textures and flavors: soft, chewy vermicelli, crunchy vegetables, and the savory-sweet interplay of the Chinese barbecued pork, curry, and soy and oyster sauces. With a little planning, it’s easy to recreate this delicious dish at home.

A shortcut for dinner tonight

Instead of making the long-marinated barbecued pork for the Singapore noodles, try substituting honey-cured ham, leftover roasted chicken or turkey, or firm tofu.

Work ahead so everything’s ready

As with many Asian dishes, Singapore noodles require some up-front time preparing the ingredients. But much of this can be done ahead so that all you’re left to do at the last minute is the stir-frying. For instance, the barbecued pork (it’s actually broiled; the barbecue is in the flavorings) must be marinated at least several hours ahead. If you’re using dried mushrooms, you can soak and slice them up to two days ahead and refrigerate them. The celery, onion, and green pepper can be chopped a day ahead, wrapped well, and refrigerated. The rice vermicelli noodles—the foundation of the dish—can be soaked up to four hours ahead and spread on a dishtowel. They may clump up, but they’ll loosen again during cooking.

When you’re ready to start stir-frying, confirm that all your ingredients are prepped and measured, and then line up everything in the order you’ll use them. The cooking moves quickly, and you don’t want to have to stop to peel shrimp or mince ginger in the middle of it all.

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