I remember the first time I ate singapore noodles. I was in university and out for lunch with my then-boyfriend. Most of my Chinese food experience by that point was by way of mall food courts as a teenager. My parents never went to restaurants (well, other than the occasional visit to Pizza Hut). So trying the spicy, curry flavour of those singapore noodles with little bits of shrimp and bbq pork for the first time was pretty eye-opening. I loved that dish and it became pretty much my Chinese ordering staple dish for years.
What’s not to love about a dish that has noodles stained bright yellow from curry powder and is filled with spicy bits of pork, shrimp and just enough vegetables to think what you’re eating is sort of healthy-ish. I never thought I could replicate this dish at home, but here I am with the recipe to prove it. This recipe keeps it simple with using just chicken, red peppers and basil. I added in some scallions because to me, scallions are a must in any good singapore-style noodle. I also added in sriracha to do a quick marinade for my chicken because I like things extra spicy. Instead of using a sunny yellow curry powder, I just used what I had…my good old bottle of Patak’s curry paste – a red curry, not a yellow one. No matter, it was still super tasty. In fact, Cornelius couldn’t believe that I had made it. He thought it was take-out. Silly boy. He gobbled it up and went back for seconds. Think you don’t have time to cook? Think again.
The recipe is from the new Mark Bittman book How to Cook Everything Fast: A Better Way to Cook Great Food and just like the other books from his series, this one is a weighty & wonderful tome. In the corner of each recipe there’s a speed icon and to make this recipe takes just 30 minutes. Faster than delivery and now you know exactly what you’re getting! One of the great things about this book is that Bittman snubs the idea of having a mis en place in place before you start cooking. Instead, it’s about working smarter in the kitchen. While you wait for the water to boil, that’s when you chop your peppers and mince your garlic and ginger. When you’re cooking the chicken, drain the noodles and strip the basil leaves from their stems.
The fast comes from using those little downtimes in the making of to prep the next set of ingredients. It’s smart and it might be how you already cook in the kitchen anyway. You’ll note that in the recipe I’ve italicized some sentences which tells you that’s when you prep! I’m a fan. I’ve already bookmarked a lot of the recipes, but please note that although there are plenty of vegetable and tofu recipes, it’s decidedly meat/poultry/fish heavy, though you could always make easy substitutions. Also, the dessert section didn’t really appeal…but then again, I don’t turn to Mark Bittman for desserts. Just saying.
The book was sent to me from the Canadian book distributor and after flipping through it and trying out a recipe decided that it would make for a good giveaway. In fact, it’s the very first product giveaway that I’ve ever done. Hooray! Here’s how to enter:
- Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your favourite fast recipe or a quick tip or technique that you use in your kitchen.
- Comments will close at 11:59 pm pacific coast time on Sunday, December 21, 2014. The winner will be chosen at random and contacted – so make sure you leave a way for me to contact you.
- Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only (sorry!).
- One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on this blog post, I cannot accept entries via email.
Disclosure: Tomas Allen & Son gave me a review copy of the cookbook and is providing the giveaway copy. I liked the book so much that I asked them to provide a copy to a reader.
Good luck and maybe forget about take-out tonight…make your own singapore noodles tonight instead.
singapore-style noodles with chicken, peppers & basil
Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything Fast: A Better Way to Cook Great Food
While any curry paste or powder will work here, I think the most authentic version would your standard yellow curry powder. That will provide you with the brightest, sunniest colour and traditional taste. That said, I used my usual red Indian curry paste and it was still absolutely delicious. Want to make this vegetarian/vegan? Use tofu instead of chicken and add extra soy sauce in place of the fish sauce.
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
a few splashes of sriracha (optional)
2 large garlic cloves
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
2 small red bell peppers
2 large scallions
5 oz dried rice vermicelli noodles
2 T vegetable oil
1 T curry powder (or paste)
1 t agave syrup (or sugar)
1 T sodium reduced soy sauce (use a gluten-free soy sauce if that’s a concern)
1 T fish sauce
1 bunch fresh basil
Bring a medium-sized saucepan of water to a boil and salt it.
Cut chicken into 1/2 inch chunks. Drizzle sriracha over chicken bits and use hands to cover every piece.
Peel the garlic and ginger; mince them together.
Core, seed, and slice the bell peppers.
Peel off outer skin & remove any brown parts of the scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces. Thicker parts of the scallions can be sliced diagonally.
When the water has boiled, add the noodles, stir once or twice, turn off the heat and let them steep until they’re not fully tender – 3-5 minutes.
Put the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and ginger to the skillet and saute until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, undisturbed, until the pieces brown and release easily, 2-3 minutes. Then cook, stirring occasionally until the meat is no longer pink, 2-3 minutes.
When the noodles are done, drain well, reserving some of the soaking liquid and shaking off as much excess water as you can.
Stir the curry powder and the agave syrup into the skillet with the chicken. Cook until the curry powder is fragrant, about a minute. Add in the soy sauce, fish sauce and the red peppers and stir to combine.
Strip about 1/2 cup of basil leaves from the stems.
When the peppers begin to soften and the chicken is cooked through, add the noodles and a splash of the soaking liquid, along with the scallions. Cook, tossing well with tongs, until the noodles are tender and most of the liquid evaporates.
Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Stir in the basil and serve.