icon Fried Noodles Singapore Style
(Singapore Chow Mei Fun)

Noodles are historically a Chinese invention, having originated there 4,000 years ago. Noodles were brought to Singapore (and also to Malaysia and Indonesia) by Chinese immigrants. Noodles also travelled with Chinese merchants via the "Silk Route" through Central Asia to Turkey and all the way to Italy.

Fried noodles are ubiquitous throughout Southeast Asia, just like pizza and burgers are in the West. Singapore is a multinational society consisting of native Malays, Chinese, Indians, and a sprinkling of Western expats working there for banks, investment houses, and the oil industry.

Singapore is known for its fusion cuisine. Fried noodles are eaten there, but "Singapore-style noodles" (Singapore Chow Mei Fun) are a Cantonese invention created by Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong. The adjective "Singapore-style" may have to do with the use of curry that gives this dish its bright yellow hue. Singapore Noodles, or Singapore Chow Mei Fun, are also one of the most popular dishes at Chinese-American restaurants in the United States. Singaporeans are probably quite bewildered when they come to the U.S. and see "Singapore-style" attached to this dish of noodles and curry powder. Cooks in Hong Kong probably figured that Singapore has a significant Indian population, so we will call this creation "Singapore-Style"; just like Vietnamese restaurants in the Czech Republic call anything hot "Thai-style".

Rice vermicelli.
Thin translucent rice vermicelli are used. Rice is the predominant agricultural crop in Asia, so it is not surprising that rice flour is used so much. In addition to vermicelli, other types of rice noodles include "Banh pho" (Vietnamese name of the Chinese rice noodles "ho fun"), the same type of thick and wide noodles used in Pad Thai or Fried Kwai Teow.

If flat wheat noodles are used, the dish becomes "Singapore chow mein".

As with Pad Thai, which also uses rice noodles but flat and wide, the secret is all in the preparation. The noodles need softening before being stir fried (cooked and cooled or soaked in warm water). Thin rice vermicelli do not need much. Prawns are common, chicken or pork is also used. Ginger and garlic create the flavor base. Cabbage, bean sprouts, spring onions and dried mushroom add color body to the dish. Fried eggs are also used.

Here is an Chinese-American recipe for this dish:


  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 8 dried or fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 12 ounces of fine dry rice vermicelli (Wai Wai brand recommended)
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced thin
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 4 jalapeño peppers, seeded and sliced thin
  • 1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
  • 8 green onions, root end trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound char siu (Chinese barbecued pork), cut into matchsticks
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
For sauce:
  • 3 tbsp Madras (hot) curry powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tsp granlulated sugar
  • 2 tsp hot chili paste
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil


  1. If using dried shiitake mushrooms, soak them in hot water for half an hour. Drain, then cut off the stems. Slice the mushrooms thinly.
  2. Put the rice vermicelli in a large bowl and soak in enough hot water to cover, until the noodles are soft (about 8 to 10 minutes). Drain noodles and set aside.
  3. Start by heating up 2 tablespoons of oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the curry powder, the ginger, and the minced garlic, and sauté until fragrant. Add the chicken broth, soy sauce, sugar, and chili paste. Stir to combine and then cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large wok over high heat. Add the remaining garlic and ginger, and stir-fry until the garlic starts to become golden. Add in the celery, onion, pepper, sprouts, green onions, and mushrooms. Stir-fry for 3 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften. Set the vegetables aside in a bowl.
  5. Heat the last 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok over high heat. Add the shrimp and stir-fry until they start to turn pink on both sides. Add the char siu and toss to combine.
  6. Add in the noodles and the vegetables. Pour on the sauce and also add the oyster sauce. Mix the ingredients thoroughly to coat all the noodles and incorporate all the vegetables.
  7. Serve hot.

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Last updated: May 8, 2022