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In Singapore hawkers and cafes, people can lock chopsticks with all kinds of noodle dishes: Laksa spiced up with tamarind and coconut milk, extremely comforting wonton noodles, and plates of calorific teow char kway, smoked and fire-breathing wok charry – to name a few.
One dish that people will be hard-pressed to find, ironically, is the Singapore noodles of the eponymous name. Or at least what the rest of the world calls Singapore noodles: sautÃ©ed rice noodles with meat, vegetables and – the defining feature of the dish – curry powder.
Like chicken rice from Hainan and Mongolian lambs from around the world, Singapore noodles were not invented in the place that gave them their name. Instead, the dish was created in Hong Kong sometime after WWII by Cantonese chefs keen to find a use for curry powder – a recent addition to southern China’s pantry via the colonies. British. The dish has been named “Singapore noodles” as a nod to the cosmopolitan nature of the two city-states.
As cooks from Hong Kong and southern China migrated across the world, they brought noodles from Singapore with them – along with fried rice, dim sum, roast meats, and other Cantonese standards that would continue to define âChinese cuisineâ globally.
The dish goes by different names around the world, including – but not limited to – ‘Singapore Fried Bee Hoon’, ‘Singapore Rice Noodles’ and ‘Sing Chow Noodles’ , an anglicization of Xingzhou, the Chinese name for Singapore.
But despite the name, Singapore noodles are not something you are likely to find in a hawker restaurant in Singapore or Malaysia. Instead, look for them at Cantonese or Hong Kong restaurants.
ArChan Chan, a Hong Kong-born Australian chef who has worked with the Andrew McConnell restaurant group, including as head chef at Melbourne’s Cantonese-inspired restaurant Ricky & Pinky, has fond memories of the dish.
“I would say, in general, that most people [in Hong Kong] would know what xing zhou chao mei fun [the dish’s Cantonese name] It is, âsays Chan, who moved to Singapore in mid-2018 to cook at LeVel 33, an urban craft brewery overlooking Singapore’s Marina Bay.
“It’s very classic and like ying chow chao fan [fried rice] or a Caesar salad: you know what’s in it. There are vermicelli, a little turmeric, probably an egg. When you say the name of the dish, I can already taste it in my head. It’s a classic cha chaan teng [Hong Kong cafe] dish.”
“There are vermicelli, a little turmeric, probably an egg. When you say the name of the dish, I can already taste it in my head.”
As is common with well-traveled dishes, the Singapore noodle recipe has been adapted to local tastes and available ingredients. In the cookbook of Australian food writer Terry Durack Noodle, he admits he cares little about the crucial curry powder, but won’t blame you if you want to slip a teaspoon of âgood fresh Malaysian curry powderâ into your version.
New York-based Australian food writer Hetty McKinnon discovers that, in a pinch, Middle Eastern shawarma spice works well when curry powder isn’t on hand.
HETTY MCKINNON’S TAKING ON THE SINGAPORE NODLES
Growing up, Merivale’s executive chef and Chef’s Line cooking show star Dan Hong enjoyed a version his restaurateur mom Angie cooked using the Clive of India spice blend brand. However, at his restaurant Mr Wong in Sydney, he trusts the S&B brand (he likes its understated turmeric flavors) and also makes a paste made from butter, garlic, curry leaves and curry powder, rather than putting the curry directly into the curry. wok.
âMaking the dough adds more body to the noodles and it’s also about consistency,â says Hong. “But other than that, it’s pretty much the same ingredients as the classic Hong Kong style, except I use snow peas and shredded black mushrooms instead of the bell pepper: I hate this vegetable.”
Although ArChan Chan hasn’t come across any Singapore noodles since she started working in Singapore, she spotted a dish called âHong Kong noodlesâ – from shrimp and wonton noodles – in shopping centers around the world. peddling. And just as your average Singaporean would have a hard time choosing Singapore noodles from a huge array of noodle dishes, Chan can’t remember eating these so-called âHong Kong noodlesâ on his travels.
âI think it’s the same as Singapore sautÃ©ed vermicelli in that someone tried to capture the essence of Hong Kong,â Chan says.
âMaybe it’s revenge for the Singapore noodles? But I haven’t tried them. I refuse to recognize the dish. Personally, I like to try things a little more local and authentic rather than something that is “impressionist”. “
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Where to try Singapore noodles in Australia
Singapore & Co
Mitchell Noodle House
Hong Kong Tea House
Chinese Restaurant Superbowl