I think there’s a neverending variety of noodles out there. To the novice and the infrequent shopper, buying noodles in a well-stocked Asian grocer can be a little overwhelming. Thin, thick, egg and rice-based, hand-pulled, buckwheat, wheat – help! I have a strong arsenal of dried noodles in my cupboard, always making sure I have a noodle for any (every) occasion. Perhaps I should also confess that I eat noodles at least four times a week.
Much like pasta, sauces and noodle pairings also matter in Asian cookery. Take a Taiwanese beef noodle soup, which calls for a medium-thickness noodle and if you are eating zhajiangmian, you need a noodle that can almost catch and hold onto the thick gravy-like sauce so that each mouthful is full of meaty goodness.
If you consider yourself a noodle connoisseur, you will surely be familiar with rice vermicelli. Often seen in Vietnamese eateries, this staple is quintessential in noodle salads with nuoc cham. The very same rice vermicelli is also used to make Singapore noodles – perhaps the unofficial dish of the Southeast Asian country where many love to visit (and eat).

Singapore noodles: a great way to use rice vermicelli.
Although vermicelli can be found all around Asia, the rice-based noodle is also very much loved in Taiwan and it is this Taiwanese vermicelli that reminds me of childhood weekend lunches and dinners with my extended family.
The city of Hsinchu, in northwest Taiwan, is where I personally think the best rice noodles are made. Locals all know that there really is no comparison when it comes to rice vermicelli, with the Hsinchu original recipe allowing home cooks many mistakes in the kitchen: if you unexpectedly leave the kitchen unattended and the noodles sit on the stove longer than required, the noodles do not break down and do not turn to mush – they hold their shape exceptionally well. Even in hot broth or if tossed continuously on a fiery hot wok, the integrity of the noodle is maintained because it is made with 100 per cent rice and is air-dried to perfection. It’s a joyful ingredient to work with for cooks who do not follow a recipe, like myself.



The reason why Hsinchu noodles are so highly regarded is that the air in the region is much windier and drier, the climate allows for special Hsinchu noodles to be dried much more quickly, which attributes to their quality. The region of Hsinchu is so highly regarded as a rice-vermicelli destination that Taiwanese people jump on tour buses and hop from one rice plantation to another – eating their way through the region known as Mifenliao.
Popular dishes in Taiwan use this mee feng (or mi fen) noodle in many ways: one popular recipe is rice vermicelli soup served with either giant meatballs or fried oysters. However, Taiwanese rice vermicelli is at its best when stir-fried in a hot wok with pork and a mix of vegetables. Cooking with mee feng is simple: soak them in cold water and when soft, add them to a hot wok with your favourite vegetables.



I am far from an expert when it comes to mee feng, but my aunt makes one of the best dishes in our family – even my mum falls short at rivalling her sister for this recipe. My aunt tells me that she presoaks shiitake mushrooms and cuts them into strips, along with other Chinese vegetables, as well as carrots which are all lightly tossed in a bit of oil in a hot pan or wok. She then removes the veg and does the same with strips of pork, as well as pan-frying an omelette in a separate pan, which is then later cut into strips and added as a sort of garnish.
The finale involves adding all the ingredients together in a hot wok or pan, including the star of the dish – the pre-soaked rice vermicelli – and adding a splash of homemade chicken stock or water if it goes a little too dry. The key to perfect mee feng is to have a slight char to the noodles from the fiery wok, yet the noodles need to have some bite to them but also be entirely cooked through. Not as easy as it sounds.
It’s a joyful ingredient to work with for cooks who do not follow a recipe, like myself.
My aunt reminds me that when making mee feng, you should never forget a soup. Mee feng noodles are so thin and easy to eat that you can easily go through three bowls and not realise you devoured an entire family serving, but upon digesting you will feel the bloating sensation of eating a feast – so be warned not to overindulge! A light soup, like Chinese radish with pork bone broth, is a favourite in my family and best paired with mee feng and something I am craving right now. I think I’ll have to pay my aunt a quick visit – she eats this much-loved Taiwanese dish at least once a week and always has enough for her niece’s surprise pop-in.

Use your noodle

Grilled pork and vermicelli noodle salad

Vermicelli noodle salads make a fantastic quick meal and are perfect in the hotter months. This one brings together tender, marinated pork and fresh veggies.

Fish curry vermicelli noodle soup (num banh chok)

At breakfast time in Cambodia, you’ll find locals starting the day with the same colourful bowl of noodles, num banh chok. This revitalising dish varies across the country, and this version is one of the most popular: rice noodles topped with fish curry, served with crisp raw vegetables and vibrant herbs.

Thai yellow crab curry with vermicelli noodles

Tender pieces of blue swimmer crab add extra luxury and lightness to this fragrant Thai yellow curry. 

Prawns with vermicelli

In Hong Kong, this dish is prepared with the prawn heads and shells on.

Betawi beef rib soup with vermicelli noodles (soto mi tangkar betawi)

Soto just means ‘soup’ and there are heaps of different sotos in Jakarta. This one consists of broth, meat, vegetables and noodles, and it’s a defining dish of the city – betawi signifies ‘Jakarta’ – and you’ll find it everywhere, from hole-in-the-wall eateries to fine diners.” Luke Nguyen, Luke Nguyen’s Street Food Asia

Vietnamese pork balls with rice vermicelli and pickles

“This is one of my favourite hot weather meals. So lively on the palate with wonderful zingy herbs, crunchy pickles and sweet, salty, garlicky meatballs – it’s an absolute crowd-pleaser! Apart from the prepping of the pickles it’s also a very quick, easy meal to put together.” Poh Ling Yeow, Poh & Co.

Singapore noodles

Dry with a punch of curry flavour, this noodle dish is a stalwart of the Asian takeaway food scene. It’s also simple to make at home; the trick is soaking the noodles in cold water so they’re never overdone.

Vermicelli noodle salads make a fantastic quick meal and are perfect in the hotter months. This one brings together tender, marinated pork and fresh veggies.
At breakfast time in Cambodia, you’ll find locals starting the day with the same colourful bowl of noodles, num banh chok. This revitalising dish varies across the country, and this version is one of the most popular: rice noodles topped with fish curry, served with crisp raw vegetables and vibrant herbs.
Tender pieces of blue swimmer crab add extra luxury and lightness to this fragrant Thai yellow curry. 
In Hong Kong, this dish is prepared with the prawn heads and shells on.
Soto just means ‘soup’ and there are heaps of different sotos in Jakarta. This one consists of broth, meat, vegetables and noodles, and it’s a defining dish of the city – betawi signifies ‘Jakarta’ – and you’ll find it everywhere, from hole-in-the-wall eateries to fine diners.” Luke Nguyen, Luke Nguyen’s Street Food Asia
“This is one of my favourite hot weather meals. So lively on the palate with wonderful zingy herbs, crunchy pickles and sweet, salty, garlicky meatballs – it’s an absolute crowd-pleaser! Apart from the prepping of the pickles it’s also a very quick, easy meal to put together.” Poh Ling Yeow, Poh & Co.
Dry with a punch of curry flavour, this noodle dish is a stalwart of the Asian takeaway food scene. It’s also simple to make at home; the trick is soaking the noodles in cold water so they’re never overdone.
SBS acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia.

source

Shop Sephari