A hot and spicy Malaysian-style Mee Siam with vermicelli noodles, juicy prawns and plenty of garlic and chillies. This is a dish to really get you tastebuds tingling.
It's all ready in about 30 minutes - including making the most amazing homemade spice paste!
Grab yourself a large glass of water (ok, beer) because these noodles are waaaarm!
I may have mentioned once or twice that I love spicy food - especially Malaysian, Indonesian, Singapore and Thai cuisine. Sweet, spicy, hot and sour - just make me something with those flavours - in pretty much any form - and I'll eat it.
This Mee Siam is based on the Malaysian version - which is a hot and spicy dry noodle dish.
There's also a Singapore version that's somewhat similar, but is served with a spicy gravy. Maybe I'll make that one soon 😋
The dish is typically made with very thin rice noodles (vermicelli), and it has some big punchy flavours - such as chillies, lime, bean paste and tamarind.
My versions is not a 100% authentic version. I've tried to keep as close as possible to those authentic flavours, but I've modified it to use ingredients that are easier to find in larger supermarkets, and require minimal preparation.
I LOVE going to the Asian supermarkets to pick out all of the amazing ingredients, but there aren't any near me, so I wanted to create something that I could make when I was craving those Mee Siam flavours.
📋 What do we need?
Check out the recipe card below for the full list of everything you need.
🔪 How to make it
Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.
- First we make the base by frying up onions, garlic, chillies, ginger and shrimp paste and then blending them up to make a thick red paste.
- Once it's blended, stir in yellow bean paste, tamarind paste, fish sauce and a little sugar and put to one side.
- Now make the omelette, which is made from 2 eggs, whisked together with a little soy sauce and fried in the wok in a thin layer (I do this in two batches so ensure they're extra thin).
- Once the omelette are cooked, stack them on a board, roll up and slice into strips.
- Now we pull everything together. Fry king prawns, tiny shrimp and beansprouts for a few minutes, before adding the paste mixture we made earlier.
- Stir fry it together, then add cooked vermicelli noodles and soy sauce. Cook, tossing it all together until the noodles are heated through.
👩🍳PRO TIP You can use ready-cooked vermicelli/rice noodles, or you can cook them yourself in boiling water for a couple of minutes. If boiling yourself, once you drain them, run them under the cold tap to cool them completely - this will help stop them sticking together.
Divide the mee siam between plates and top with slices of omelette, spring onions, lime wedges and some some strips of fresh chilli.
Apart from the delicious spiciness to this dish, I think one of the reasons I like it some much is down to the toppings. Spring onions, chillies and lime wedges are fabulous with any food of this type. The omelette though? An absolute must. It's just egg, soy sauce and a little oil, but it works perfectly with all the other flavours.
Ingredient swaps I've used
Authentic Mee Siam would normally use dried tamarind, dried shrimp and Taucheo or yellow bean paste, which can sometimes be a little difficult to get hold of.
I've swapped out the dried tamarind and shrimp, but I'm still using the yellow bean paste in my recipe. Here's a bit of info on my swaps and a couple of alternatives for the yellow bean paste if you can't find it.
- Dried tamarind - This comes in blocks that you soak in water, then use the resulting liquid. I don't see if very often in supermarkets, so I use ready-prepared tamarind paste instead (which is usually available at larger supermarkets on the Asian aisle). Failing that, Amazon (<--- affiliate link) sell it.
- Dried shrimp - You can always find these at Asian supermarkets, but I don't have one nearby and can never find it in the supermarket. They are tiny little shrimp that have been dried to extend shelf life and to give a really concentrated shrimp flavour. They require soaking to plump them up again. Since I can't get hold of them, I use some tiny (1cm long) fresh shrimp, along with a little shrimp paste and fish sauce. I also use larger shrimp (king prawns) in this dish.
- Taucheo or Yellow Bean Paste - This is a salty paste made from fermented yellow soy beans. I found some of this in my local supermarket, but if you can't find it, you can replace it with another soybean based paste - such as black bean, chilli bean (will be hotter) or even hoisin (will be a little sweeter). I've made this previously with hoisin, and it still tasted delicious.
📺 Watch how to make it
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30 minute Malaysian-style Mee Siam
- 4 nests dried rice vermicelli - (about 240g/8.5oz)
- 3 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 onions - peeled and sliced
- 5 red chillies - roughly chopped (leave the seeds in if you like it hotter). I use fresno or serrano chillies which are a medium heat chilli.
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 4 cloves of garlic - peeled and minced
- ½ tsp shrimp paste
- 2 tsp yellow bean paste - (see swaps in the notes section if you can't find this)
- ½ tsp tamarind paste
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- ½ tsp sugar
- 2 eggs - lightly whisked
- ½ tbsp light soy sauce
- 20 king prawns (shrimp) - these can be ready-cooked or uncooked prawns. They need to have been deveined and have no heads or tails.
- 70 g (½ cup) tiny brown shrimp
- 300 g (2 cups) beansprouts
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- spring onions/scallions - chopped
- fresh chillies - thinly sliced
- lime wedges
- Place the vermicelli nests in a pan and pour over some boiling water from the kettle.
- Simmer for 2-3 minutes, then drain them and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Put to one side.
Making the paste
- Whilst the vermicelli is cooking, start on the sauce/paste. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a wok and fry the onions on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until they start turning translucent.
- Add in the 5 chopped chillies, 1 tsp minced ginger, 4 cloves minced garlic and ½ tsp shrimp paste. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Remove from the heat and blend the onion/chilli mixture. I like to transfer to a blender cup or food processor (make sure it's heat-proof) so it doesn't splash when blending.
- Once blended, stir in the 2 tsp of yellow bean paste,½ tsp tamarind paste,1 tsp fish sauce and ½ tsp of sugar. Put to one side.
Making the omelette
- Now make the omelette strips. Mix together the two whisked eggs with ½ tbsp of light soy sauce.
- Heat ½ tbsp of oil (in the same wok) until hot and then add in half of the egg/soy sauce mix. Swill around the pan to make a thin omelette.
- Turn over after a minute and cook the other side.
- Slide out of the pan onto a cutting board and repeat with the remaining egg (use another ½ tbsp. oil if you need to).
- Place the second omelette on top of the first, then roll them up and slice - to give you long, thin slices. Put to one side.
Pulling it all together
- Heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil in the wok and add in the king prawns, cook for 2 minutes until pink (if they're already cooked, then heat for 2 minutes anyway to heat through).
- Add in the tiny shrimps and beansprouts and cook for a further minute.
- Add in the chilli/onion paste and heat for a minute or two, whilst stirring, until bubbling.
- Add in the cooked noodles and the 1 tbsp of dark soy sauce, then heat on high, moving around the pan often for another couple of minutes until the noodles are heated through. I use tongs to lift and drop the noodles, so they don't get mushed up.
- Divide the Mee Siam between bowls, and top with the cooked omelette (the heat from the noodles will be enough to ensure the omelette slices are warm).
- Sprinkle on some chopped spring onions/scallions and fresh chilles, then garnish with lime wedges.
However, if you did want to prep ahead, you can:
- Cook the noodles ahead (run through cold water, cover and chill for up to a day)
- Make the spice paste ahead (cook, blend, cool, cover and chill for up to 3 days)
Reheat in a wok over a medium heat, tossing together, using tongs for about 10 minutes, until the prawns are piping hot throughout. Add a splash of water when reheating to loosen the noodles up. **I don't recommend reheating if you're using cooked prawns instead of raw prawns in this dish. If you're using cooked prawns, you're essentially reheating them when you make the dish. By reheating the dish, the prawns would be being reheated for a second time. That's too many times to reheat from a food safety point of view. ** Just making it for two (or one large serving)? You can halve the recipe quantities and cook in the same way. Nutritional information is per serving.
This post was first published in April 2015. Updated in April 2021 with new photos, video and a bit of housekeeping.
Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.
Miroslav Klouda says
This dish must be gorgeous but I haven't enough courage to cook it myself. It is too different from what I am used to cook. If I only could taste a bit from the video!
It’s simple and quick to prepare. Plus it’s delicious
Love your Asian recipes and this is no exception. Yummy!
Nicky! You know we love spicy, salty, savoury in our house! Chris is a huge fan of Asian cuisine (one of the main reasons he is excited about our new house - we are moving into an mainly Asian neighbourhood and the restaurants are plentiful!) and I just know he will love a big bowl of this!
Nicky Corbishley says
Oh, if only we could come visit!
We could all eat some yummy Asian food then the two Chris's could play some video games whilst you persuade me to do some yoga 🙂
Kaitlin Flannery - Whisk Kid says
I always see those teeny dried shrimp at our local Asian market, but I never knew what they were for. I had no idea they could be rehydrated and used like this! This sounds absolutely delicious.
Nicky Corbishley says
Yes, they kind of look like something you'd put in a bird feeder don't they! Hope you enjoy 🙂
I'm a sucker for Asian food, so you're speaking to my soul with this recipe. Looks amazing!
Nicky Corbishley says
Thanks Sabrina, glad you like it 🙂
Awesome photos! We'd love it if you'd submit it to JalapenoMania.com!
Nicky Corbishley says
Thanks Kristy 🙂
Thalia @ butter and brioche says
I've never tried a mee siam before but I sure love my Asian cuisine so I definitely need to try the recipe out. Looks super flavorsome and delicious!
Nicky Corbishley says
Thanks Thalia, it's delish! Hot, but delish 🙂
Yum, yum, yum!!! I, too, will eat and devour anything with the sweet, spicy, hot and sour combination (it's the best!). Love this dish and i can't wait to try it. I'm lucky enough to live near an Asian market, so I'm going to prepare it with your suggested "harder to find" ingredients. I'm excited! Thanks for sharing this fabulous dish!
Nicky Corbishley says
Ooh I'm so jealous! Wish we had one nearby. Hope you enjoy Cheyanne 🙂