Singapore Noodles

49 Comments

My daughters recently met in Austin, Texas for a fun-filled extended weekend. They stayed an an adorable motel, and worked their way to bars and eateries in Austin for serious sister bonding.

For what was “probably one of the best meals ever,” was lunch at Elizabeth Street Cafe, which opened in South Austin in 2011. It’s a “little restaurant boasts sunny dining rooms and a shady garden patio and serves fresh breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as takeout.”

What’s interesting is that it’s a Vietnamese cafe and French bakery/boulangerie, so while you enjoy your ba´hn mi, you can order baguettes and macarons.

In anticipation of their mama’s upcoming birthday, my girls purchased the Elizabeth Street Cafe cookbook, and boy did I have trouble picking the first dish I’d make out of it. Except the macarons; I always leave those to the experts.

Finally I chose Singapore Noodles with shrimp and roasted pork, and it turns out that it was the first dish on the Elizabeth Street Cafe menu. It remains a best seller. The same noodles show up on their breakfast menu without the shrimp, but with sunny-side-up eggs on top.

I happened to have rice vermicelli noodles in my pantry. And they’re from Singapore!

Singapore Noodles with Gulf Shrimp and Roasted Pork

For the pork:
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons annatto seeds
1 pound pork shoulder or butt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

For the curry slurry:
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon sriracha
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

For the noodles:
1/2 pound rice vermicelli
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 large white onion
1 jalapeño, stemmed, thinly sliced
1 Fresno or other red chile, stemmed, thinly sliced
12 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
2 eggs
2 large handfuls cilantro
6 scallions, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
1 large handful watercress
1 lime, cut into wedges
Sriracha, for serving

In a small pot set over low heat, warm the oil, add the annatto seeds, and cook, stirring twice, until the seeds are fragrant and sizzling and the oil is brick red, about 5 minutes. Strain the oil through a sieve into a small bowl and discard the seeds. Cool the oil to room temperature.


Season the pork all over with the sugar and salt. Put the pork in a large resealable plastic bag and pour in the annatto oil. Squeeze all the air out of the bag so the oil completely covers the pork. Refrigerate and let marinate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Set a roasting rack over a sheet pan. Put the pork on the rack and drizzle whatever oil remains in the bag over the pork.

Roast until the pork is browned and tender, about 2 1/2 hours, turning it halfway through roasting. Remove the pork from the oven and let cool to room temperature; then cut into large bite-size pieces – discarding any large pieces of fat – and reserve. Reserve the bright red fat in the sheet pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the curry powder, turmeric, fish sauce, sriracha, and ginger with 1/4 cup water. Let sit for 1 hour at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Line a plate with a clean cotton dish towel. Put the noodles in a large bowl of hot tap water and soak until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain the noodles and transfer to the lined plate. Place a second clean cotton dish towel on top of the noodles, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

In a large wok set over high heat warm the oil until smoking. Then add the reserved pork and cook until the meat is crisp on one side, about 3 minutes.

Add the onion, jalapeño, and Fresno chile and cook, stirring until the vegetables pick up some color, about 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp and cook until browned on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Add the reserved pork fat from the roasting pan and the noodles and stir rapidly to combine the ingredients in the pan. (If your pan is small, cook the noodles in 2 batches.)

Move the stir-fry to one side of the pan and crack the eggs into the pan, stirring with a wooden stpoon or chopsticks scramble the eggs and to incorporate them into the noodles.

Then stir the curry slurry and pour it over the noodles. Continue to stir and toss the noodles to evenly distribute the slurry. Stir in most of the cilantro and scallions and taste for seasoning, adding more salt if needed.

Transfer the stir-fry to a serving platter, and place some of the shrimp on top of the noodles.

Top with the remaining cilantro and scallions and the watercress.

Serve immediately with the lime wedges and sriracha.

Oh my goodness, I could eat this dish every day. Probably for all three meals. I can’t really describe how good it is, but you can tell from the ingredient list.

The one thing I did differently was to roast the pork at a higher temperature for about 30 minutes. I think this was preferable to pork “baked” at only 350 degrees. Otherwise I wouldn’t change a thing!!!

49 thoughts on “Singapore Noodles

  1. I absolutely love Asian cuisines and when noodles and shrimp are included in a recipe I am all over it. I have not made many Vietnamese dishes and your recipe sounds and looks perfect. I might make a few adjustments to taste but overall what a flavorful and spicy treat! I see another cookbook addition to my ever-growing library…

    • Oh, it’s a fun cookbook! Personally I wouldn’t change a thing flavor-wise. It was just too good. I also love shrimp in noodles, but my favorite was that roast pork. I made your Mongolian beef recipe a few days ago, and on Monday I’m making pigs in a blanket with the silicone molds! grand daughter is coming!

      • Oh right! I forgot about the cilantro. No big deal. I couldn’t add the watercress cause, well, I live in Oklahoma! Can’t wait to make the piggies! Thanks again for all of your great recipes!

  2. I can certainly see why this would be so popular! It sounds delicious! I could definitely eat this for any meal of the day. Love all the flavours going on here and that curry slurry (ha, that rhymes) sounds delicious!

    • That’s what’s so good about noodle dishes. You want them all the time! This one is such a perfect recipe. My Chinese friend pointed out to me that although there are versions of Singapore noodles “everywhere,” the real ones have the addition of curry powder. Which is kind of odd when you think of it!

  3. Wow, Singapore noodles cooked from a cookbook from a Vietnamese cafe and French bakery in Austin, Texas. It’s almost worth the journey back to my old college town just to try out the Elizabeth Street Cafe. But, no need, you’ve made us one of their top dishes. I love Singapore noodles. I for one think the rice vermicelli noodles are the key to this dish. Well done Mimi, I’d set your well-plated dish of Singapore noodles on any Asian table.

    • You went to the Uni of T? What a town. Or, huge city now. Great place to visit though. Ever since I received the book, I’ve come across a bunch of people who have eaten there. I’d love to go myself. Although there are more Asian spots popping up in Oklahoma. Hope you get a chance to make this. I honestly wouldn’t change a thing. And I usually do. Well, I did more of a roasted pork than in the recipe, but that was a minor change!

      • Yep, I was at UT for a couple years and then I escaped up to the U of Washington for a few more. Austin was tiny when I lived there compared to now. I’d not like living there now. Yes, I’ll be trying your version next time a wok up a batch.

      • I’m not surprised. I first visited in 1979. It was big to me, but quaint in a way.

  4. I love this dish! And this version looks terrific. Haven’t had this in a long, long time but you have me SO hungry for it. :-)

  5. Wow! Talk about a flavorful dish! We have so many Vietnamese restaurants in our area and I’ve not ventured too far beyond pho. Singapore Noodles looks delicious and I’d love to impress my family. I think this would. :-) I’m not familiar with annatto seeds but I’ll enjoy the discovery. I’d really like to visit the Elizabeth Street Cafe. Thank you for sharing something tasty that gives us a glimpse of that experience.

    • You really need to buy some annatto seeds and play with them. What a color they color everything! I mostly have used them in baked goods. The funny thing is that I’ve only seen them in Southwestern recipes, but obviously they’re more of an international ingredient. If I had good Asian restaurants where I live, I’d probably never make anything Asian. You’re lucky!

  6. I have seen so many recipes for Singapore noodles, but not one went so far as to especially cook the pork for the purpose of making the noodle dish. This must be amazing!!!

    • I actually roasted a whole pork shoulder (instead of the 1 lb. portion as stated in the recipe) to make this noodle dish, as well as to have some roast pork leftover, and boy was it enjoyed! I think I’ll roast another pork shoulder in the same manner!

  7. What a fun weekend! I had the chance to visit Austin last Fall for the first time, and I absolutely love that city. It’s got such a great foodie vibe, and there are so many options when it comes to food. A restaurant where I can get ba´hn mi and baguettes? You’ve got my attention! These noodles sound (and look!) delicious, Mimi. Excellent choice in making this one first!

    • Yeah, except they forgot to invite me! Oh well. These noodles are really outstanding. I’m no expert on Asian noodle dishes, but I wouldn’t change a thing. And I’m glad I roasted a whole chunk of pork shoulder, because it was good eating for a few days!

  8. Love this one very much; since my pantry is also full of surprises I might make it tomorrow for our lunch. Thank you so much Mimi ! Enjoy the week end !

    • Hahahaha! My husband claims he shops in his closet (because he’s always finding clothes he didn’t know he had or forgot about) and he says that I shop in my pantry! I need to shop in my spices because I’m over flowing!

  9. I love that café! I went there several times when we were working with architects that are designing a new building for the University. I look forward to trying your (ESC’s) noodles… It looks like it takes a reasonable amount of time, but that it’s worth it.

    • Oh how fun! Yes, it takes some time, but I bought a pork shoulder and followed their recipe for roasting it, and that ended up providing a few extra meals! Who can find 1 pound of pork shoulder anyway?!! But I do recommend roasting the meat for a significant amount of time, then lowering the oven temp. I used an internal thermometer set at 150 degrees. The outside was so crispy and wonderful!

    • I don’t think there’s an “Asian” noodle dish I don’t like, but this one does have some extra wonderful layers of flavor to it!

  10. Looks absolutely delish! I love asian noodles. I have never been to Austin, but will have to check this place out when I do.

    • Downtown nightlife in Austin is fun. A bit crazy, but fun. Great restaurants and music!!! That’s mostly what I’ve experienced, is the downtown area.

  11. I’m sure this is worth every minute of the work. I love when I see annato seeds being used. I buy them whenever I see them and make the oil, too. I don’t see them used this way in too many recipes. So fun! The flavors in this sound so dreamy together. And with 2 gluten-free eaters in my house, I’m a big fan of vermicelli. :-)

    • I used to use annatto oil in breads, for the color mostly, and in some stir fries, but can’t remember what else. I now need to use it more often!

  12. I’ll be having a brief stopover soon in Singapore on my way to Bali. Not that thats got anything to do with this excellent recipe Mimi but it was the first thing that came to mind when I read your recipe title. Ha ha! It’s hardly surprising that this is a popular recipe from that cookbook. It looks absolutely delicious. Yum!

  13. You pantry proves it was meant to be. I love the French influence on Vietnamese cooking. I realize that influence comes from French Imperialism, but still. GREG

    • I know! So interesting, what the countries who “owned” other countries did culinarily for them. I love my pantry!

  14. My lovely daugher-in law to be is from Singapore and I love the cuisine (and her) and this noodle dish is something we often enjoy – I love the curry taste. We see these noodles in Chinese restaurants but I’ve not seen them in a Vietnamese restaurant, or maybe I’v just not noticed.
    How nice your girls are so close and obviously thoughtful.

    • Thank you Kathryn. Yes, they’re very close. 2 1/2 years apart, but I don’t think that really matters. They’re just lucky. And I sure didn’t mind having two children who didn’t fight like cats and dogs! Congratulations on the upcoming nuptials!

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