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You'll need

100 ml vegetable oil 300 gm firm tofu, cut lengthwise into 2cm thick slices 500 gm green school prawns, peeled and with tails intact 400 gm bean sprouts, tails trimmed 150 gm garlic chives, cut into 3cm lengths (see note) 500 gm dried rice vermicelli, soaked in cold water until soft 2 long red chillies, thinly sliced 8 wedges of lime 8 hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered   Chilli spice paste 40-60 dried long red chillies, soaked in boiling water to soften 250 gm red shallots, thinly sliced (2 cups) 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped 1 tbsp belacan (see note) 125 ml (½ cup) vegetable oil 1/3 cup dried shrimp, pounded 1 tbsp white sugar   Tamarind sauce 1 onion, finely chopped 5 tbsp yellow bean sauce, crushed (see note) 1.5 litres light coconut milk 1/3 cup tamarind pulp, soaked in 1 cup of warm water, strained, reserve water 75 gm (1/3 cup) white sugar

Method

  • 01
  • Heat oil in a wok, add tofu and fry over medium heat for 2 minutes each side or until crisp. Drain on absorbent paper, cool and cut into 2cm cubes. Set aside.
  • 02
  • For chilli spice paste, coarsely chop chillies and place in a food processor or mortar. Add shallot, garlic, belacan and process or pound to a fine paste. Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan and fry paste with dried shrimp for 10-15 minutes or until aromatic and oil rises to the surface, then add sugar and 1 tsp salt. Divide mixture into three and set aside.
  • 03
  • For tamarind sauce, combine one third of chilli spice paste, onion, yellow bean sauce and coconut milk in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until simmering. Add tamarind water and cook for 5-10 minutes. Add sugar and salt to taste, then cook for 3-5 minutes or until slightly reduced. Keep warm.
  • 04
  • Cook half the remaining paste, prawns, bean sprouts and half the chopped chives in a wok or large frying pan for 30 seconds. Add 2 cups of hot water, bring to the boil, add noodles and stir to combine.
  • 05
  • Divide noodles among bowls, pour over some hot sauce, top with eggs, tofu, chillies, lime wedges and remaining chives. Serve remaining paste and sauce passed separately.
Note Substitute green onions if garlic chives are not available. Belacan is a paste made from fermented prawns, available from Asian grocery stores. Yellow bean sauce is made from soy beans that are salted and then fermented. Look for sauces with whole beans. Available from Asian grocery stores.

Considered by many to be from Thailand, though I've never come across it there. Nevertheless, its hot, sweet and sour flavours make it a Nonya favourite. The addition of yellow bean sauce gives the dish a Chinese nuance. A one-dish meal, it's packed with rice noodles, prawns, garlic chives, crisp tofu and eggs. It's served with a coconut sauce redolent of tamarind and while quite a wet dish, has just enough gravy to coat the noodles. It is best finished with fresh lime juice.

At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Drink Suggestion

Crisp, citrussy riesling.

Featured in

Apr 2007

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