So by now you all know Pirate Caroline is spending the first two months of her 2018 lounging about a luxury yacht on the passage of a lifetime. I, on the other hand, have two months full of business travel (and alas, I am not a professional sailor). That said, some of my destinations have fabulous local cuisines, so when I’m home on da bayou I’ll gin some up to answer Caroline’s Caribbean/Central American food fest. Scenery won’t be as good, but eating well is half the battle. Let’s start with Singapore noodles, a great spicy comfort food. This dish actually has no connection to Singapore — the best explanation I’ve heard for the name is that it borrows many of the “fusion” elements of Singapore itself, with its combination of Chinese, Southeast Asian, and Indian influences.
The curried noodles and shrimp are generally combined with Cantonese pork called char siu–a sweet-tangy barbecued pork. Here in New Orleans, I substituted the more available spicy-smoked tasso ham — hence the “Cajun” take on the dish. You can use any good-quality ham, or meat pulled from leftover barbecued pork spareribs…maybe even Canadian bacon.
The key to stir fry dishes is prep work. Once you start cooking it ALL comes together in a matter of minutes and everything has to be ready to go into the hot wok. So get a decent knife out and get to work.
Cajun Singapore NoodlesJump to Recipe
1 lb medium shrimp
14 ounces rice noodles
1/3 cup water
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large onion
1 red bell pepper
5 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons curry powder
8 green onions
8 ounces Tasso or other good quality ham, or leftover barbecued pork pulled from spareribs
Peel and devein your shrimp and either boil the shells for stock for future use now, seal them up tightly in the icebox for no more than a day or two before boiling, or bag and get rid of them! I leave the tails on, but that’s up to you — some people don’t like pawing around in their food.
Pour boiling water over the rice noodles. In about twenty minutes they will be cooked but still chewy. You can let them sit in the now-largely cooled water until you’re ready to use them, then drain.
This is a big step…for this recipe you’re going to add the following things in installments, so I prep them in a bowl together: (1) chop your onion and red pepper; (2) chop your garlic and add to your peeled shrimp; (3) slice your scallions and pork* and team with the cooked and drained noodles; (4) whisk together the water, 3 tablespoons of oil, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. *If by chance you are NOT using a cooked pork product like leftover spare rib meat or ham, put it in with the onion and pepper instead so that it gets a decent amount of cooking at the start.
Get your wok (or large frying pan in a pinch) really hot over high-heat and add the oil, heating until it shimmers. Add the onion and peppers and cook a few minutes stirring constantly until soft.
Stir in your shrimp, garlic and curry powder and toss that around for another minute, until the shrimp become opaque. The hyper-observant reader might ask why I switched spoons; in a hyper-stir frying moment, I sent the first one reeling out of the wok and sliding down behind the gimbaled stove. Don’t worry, I pried it out with the whale-gusher manual bilge pump handle later, but for now … new spoon.
Add the cooked noodles, pork, and scallions as well as the fish sauce mixture and turn thoroughly for a couple of minutes to combine and heat, tasting to be sure noodles are tender and shrimp are cooked through. Break out your chopsticks and picture yourself in the East Asian tropics!
Cajun Singapore Noodles
- 1 lb medium shrimp
- 14 ounces rice noodles
- 1/3 cup water
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 large onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 8 scallions
- 8 ounces Tasso or other good-quality ham or leftover barbecued pork from ribs
- Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails on.
- Pour boiling water over noodles and let sit about 20 minutes, until soft but chewy. Drain when ready to use.
- Chop onion and bell pepper. Mince garlic and add to shrimp. Chop pork and scallions and add to drained noodles. Whisk together water, 3 tablespoons oil, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved.
- Heat remaining oil in wok until shimmering. Stir fry onion and bell pepper until soft. Add shrimp, garlic, and curry powder and stir fry one minute or so until shrimp are opaque. Add noodles, scallions, pork and fish sauce mixture and toss until warm, noodles tender and shrimp cooked through.