Bee Hoon (vermicelli)There is the thin and the thick bee hoon. The thin version is translucent, dried and breaks easily when bought off the shelf. Before cooking it, it needs to be soaked in water. The most popular way the thin version is cooked - fried! So the steps for a simple fried bee hoon are: soak in water > fry in some garlic/onion, throw in an egg or some shredded cabbage, a dash of soya sauce for taste and colour and tadah!
You find fried bee hoon at almost any occasion either prepared at home or catered, from tea breaks at company events or seminars, to baby showers, picnics, home parties and even at funeral wakes. Whenever you see fried bee hoon catered or served at a friend's house, it is 95% likely you will see its complement - curry chicken! Fried bee hoon is a common breakfast food at coffeeshops too. For dinner, you can get fried bee hoon from tze char stalls at coffeeshops. It's really everywhere!!!
Another noodle dish that uses bee hoon is Mee Siam, which is bee hoon in a light and sour gravy topped with dried beancurd, beansprouts and a hard boiled egg. Other than getting Mee Siam at Malay stalls, you can get it throughout the day too at Toast Box outlets. Bee hoon is light and easy on the stomach so it’s also common for locals here to eat bee hoon soup (eg. fishball soup with bee hoon, sliced fish soup with bee hoon) when they are unwell.
The thick bee hoon (white in colour) is selected more as the noodle option for sliced fish soup. It's also a noodle option for several other foods - like yong tau foo and fishball noodles. Thick bee hoon is also the better half of Hokkien Mee. Some hawkers fry Hokkien Mee with the thin bee hoon too. Both versions are also popular for prawn noodles, where you can choose to mix bee hoon with yellow noodles.
Click here to know what yellow noodles are!
Like the many kinds of pasta in West, there's a variety of noodles that the people of the East enjoy, and everything's cooked in different ways. Some stalls especially those selling minced pork noodles and fishball noodles have a range of noodles for you to choose from, while the noodles used in some dishes are fixed. There's definitely more than one kind of noodles offered in EVERY coffeeshop, food court and hawker centre so make it a point to try everything! In this first post of the noodles series, we'll start off with the yellow noodle!
On it's own, yellow noodles tastes a little bitter (to us at least) because of the alkaline salts added when it's made. But more often than not, the condiments used in preparing the noodles mask this taste.
Yellow noodles are used all the time for the Malay Mee Rebus. The toppings are simple - beansprouts, tau kwa (like tofu), a boiled egg and green chilli, but the key to this noodle dish is the sauce. The yellow noodles are sunk in a tasty thick brown gravy carrying tinge of curry taste. Squeeze a little lime and you're set for a good meal!
Prawn noodles, locally known in Hokkien as Hei Mee, (Hei is pronounced like how an evil laughter sounds as in "heh heh heh") is also made of yellow noodles. It comes in flavourful broth simmered for many hours using prawn heads and pork ribs. (Great, now we're thinking of the Prawn noodles shop at Katong :P) Most stalls allow you to have a mix of yellow noodles and thin or thick bee hoon (vermicelli) and kway tiao (thick flat white noodles) too.
Mee Goreng is fried using yellow noodles. There is the Malay Mee Goreng and the Indian Mee Goreng. The India Mee Goreng is distinguised by it's striking red colour. Taste wise, what separates one mee goreng from another is the sambal paste (made with chillis, dried shrimp and a whole string of condiments) that it is added during the frying. Usually egg, cabbage and shrimp or chicken make up the toppings.
To us, Lor Mee is like the Chinese version of the Malay Mee Rebus, minus the curry taste, because the yellow noodles are bathed in a thick gravy too. The colour of the gravy is a darker brown, and the yellow noodles is a little flatter. The toppings include fish cake, beansprouts and pork or fish slices. What makes the taste of the gravy distinct is the vinegar added to it, which some locals love to ask for more of.
Half of the noodles in the famous Char Kway Tiao is also the yellow noodle (the other half is Kway Tiao). A main condiment is dark sauce so the dish turns out dark brown. It's fried on a high heat using lard (that's why it's so good) with cockles, egg and Chinese sausage thrown in.
Another famous local eat with yellow noodles making up half of the dish is Hokkien Mee. The other half is made up of bee hoon. It's stir-fried with egg, prawns, squid and some cubes of pork fat. What makes it so flavourful is the prawn stock which it is simmered in during the cooking process. And yes, the chilli paste and bit of lime makes a big difference too.