Fideuà-Inspired Singapore Mei Fun

October  4, 2022
1 Ratings
Photo by Mandy Lee
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

If you’re anything like me, and hopelessly infatuated with glorious culinary intermixture (which both "traditional" Singapore mei fun—a fusion of Cantonese, Southeast Asian, and South Asian flavors—and fideuà, with roots in Spain but influences from around Europe, essentially are), you are in for a treat. But I’ll back up. Singapore mei fun, a confusingly named dish that’s in fact Cantonese, isn't exactly a showstopper in my book: It's a mild-flavored rice vermicelli dish stir-fried with an array of seemingly random ingredients (curry powder, scrambled eggs, vegetables, cooked meat and/or shrimp). Valencian fideuà looks like paella, but instead of rice, it’s made with broken up thin noodles called fideos—otherwise it’s quite similar to the rice dish, down to the socarrat, that signature crispy-bottom crust.

Here, I’ve combined these two dishes. It tastes like Singapore mei fun, but cooked in the style of fideuà, with a crispy rice vermicelli socarrat. Each bite has textural contrast: crunchy and soft, spicy and sweet, with savory and smoky flavors. With a hit of tangy lime juice and spicy aioli, I think it’ll become part of your dinner rotation. —Mandy @ Lady and pups

What You'll Need
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Fideuà-Inspired Singapore Mei Fun
  • Fideuà-Inspired Singapore Mei Fun
  • 2 ounces (60 grams or scant ½ cup) guanciale or fatty pancetta, finely diced
  • Canola oil
  • 1/2 cup dried shrimp
  • 2 cups chicken stock, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fish sauce, divided
  • 1 small yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced into half-moons
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 1/2 ounces (240 grams) dried thin rice vermicelli noodles, broken or snipped into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 pound (8 to 10 medium) head-on, shell-on prawns or jumbo shrimp
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 cup Chinese garlic chives, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 5 ounces (150 grams) prepared char siu (or another sweet barbecue-style pork), cut into 2-inch strips
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • Spicy Aioli
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder, plus more to taste
  1. In a 12- to 14-inch (30- to 35-centimeter) well-seasoned paella pan or large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook the guanciale until the fat has rendered out and the meat is crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat and place it in a small bowl. Pour out the rendered fat into a liquid measuring cup and top it off with canola oil until you have ¼ cup. Hang on to the pan and the oil.
  2. Place the dried shrimp in a heatproof liquid measuring cup with ½ cup of water. Microwave on high for 1 minute. (Alternatively, use ½ cup boiling water and soak for 5 minutes.) Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon to a cutting board. Add chicken stock to the shrimp water until you have a total of just over 2 cups liquid (you can go up to 2¼ cups if you prefer a softer, saucier dish). Stir in 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce. Finely chop the slightly softened dried shrimp, then place in a medium bowl with the onion, bell pepper, and chopped garlic.
  3. Heat the broiler on high. While the oven is heating, make the spicy aioli: In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, grated garlic, and ½ tablespoon of chili powder. Taste and add another tablespoon of chili powder if you’d prefer it smokier and spicier.
  4. Scatter the broken rice vermicelli on a sheet pan. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the rendered pork fat mixture over the rice vermicelli and gently toss. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes until the noodles start to brown. Toss the vermicelli and continue broiling until evenly browned, keeping a close eye to prevent burning.
  5. Heat 1 teaspoon of the pork fat in the paella pan over medium-high heat. Add the beaten eggs, scrambling with a spatula, and cook until the edges of the eggs are deeply browned and firm (not softly scrambled), 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a small plate.
  6. Leaving the heads and tails on the prawns, peel off the rest of their shells and devein. Make a few slits crosswise on the belly side of each prawn so they don’t curl up during cooking. Place on a plate and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Still over medium-high heat, add the rest of the pork fat to the skillet with the dried shrimp mixture and the remaining teaspoon of fish sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the edges of the vegetables are deeply browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the curry powder and turmeric, cook for a few seconds to toast the spices, then add the chicken stock mixture. Fold in the eggs and the toasted vermicelli one large handful at a time, continuing to gently fold the mixture with the liquid so each strand is moistened, 4 to 5 minutes. (The pan may seem dry, but this is correct—the noodles will be brittle in the beginning, but will eventually become softer and more pliable as you go.)
  8. Once the noodles are softened and pliable, mix in the bean sprouts and Chinese chives until evenly combined. With the back of your spatula, firmly press everything down so that all the ingredients are level and sitting flat in the pan. Arrange the prawns and char siu strips on top and press them down gently. Cover the pan with foil and continue to cook on medium to medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until the prawns are pink and cooked through, and a crispy crust forms on the bottom. (If the bottom isn't browned after 3 to 4 minutes, increase the heat to high and toast for another few minutes, being careful not to burn the bottom.)
  9. Scatter the crispy pork bits on top, and if you mean business, use a kitchen torch to add additional color to the surface of the dish. Serve immediately with lime and spicy aioli.

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1 Review

Kelli S. March 24, 2022
I'll admit, I was hesitant. Usually, I'm not too fond of paella-like things because they're never as satisfying. This was so satisfying. If you're the person who scrapes up every last grain of rice out of the paella because you love soccarrat, then you MUST try this. I happened to have some frozen char sui in my freezer from a previous Mandy recipe, so it seemed like fate, but I don't think it was essential to how amazing this dish is. The bacon fat is the flavor hero. But then again, it always is.