Char Bee Hoon 炒米粉
Char Bee Hoon (char 炒 = fry, and bee hoon 米粉 = rice sticks, vermicelli) is a very popular meal prepared by Singaporean housewives for their family especially on days when the wifey runs out of idea cooking 3 dishes 1 soup set dinner. You will frequently see fried bee hoon in a housewarming, baby showers and children’s birthday parties. Since this was the last dish (and one of those prepared meals for deep-freezing I cooked for Vanessa the dawn I left Melbourne), I might as well share the recipe here. There are many ways to char bee hoon and this is the style I’ve cooked for my family for about 2 decades now.
Above are the basic ingredients used in my family’s recipe. I sometimes do a vegetable based char bee hoon using french beans, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms and dried shrimps (omit the dried shrimps for a complete vegetarian meal – also strict vegetarians do not use garlic as they say it may hurt their internal organs).
Reconstitute the Dried Shitake Mushrooms by soaking them in hot water until they are soften. Rinse the caps well to get rid of spores and cut off and discard stems. Retain the mushrooms water for use later. Slice the mushrooms as seen in the picture. Vanessa likes to have plenty of mushrooms in every bite so I tend to use a lot more than stipulated in the recipe. Sometimes, I feel like Shitake is the star ingredient and I should rename this dish “Fried Mushrooms with Bee Hoon”.
Beat a few eggs and make omelet strips as seen in the picture above. I do not season them as they are mixed into the bee hoon when we eat but you may season with a little salt and white pepper powder according to taste.
Heat oil in wok, stir-fry dried shrimps and minced garlic till bubbly and fragrant. Add in sliced mushrooms and fry for a couple more minutes. Add in the shredded vegetables and fry till half cooked. Add in the canned stew pork and the sauce. Add in the dried mushrooms and dried shrimp water. Add more water if necessary so that the ingredients are almost immersed in the water. Add Oyster Sauce, Light Soy Sauce and Pepper to taste, then lastly, add in the Bee Hoon.
Mix well and cover with lid. Let the bee hoon absorb all the liquid, on medium low heat. Once liquid is absorbed, uncover and adjust seasoning. You can keep the dish moist or continue to cook till dry and fluffy. I like it just moist but Vanessa likes it really dry so she wins… I fry them further. Also, if you are going to freeze them like I did for Vanessa and Ray, it is better to keep them dry.
1 packet Rice Sticks (soak in tepid water till soften, drain and set aside).
1-2 cans Stewed Pork. I used 2 cans not so much for the meat but the gravy in the canned pork makes a difference when frying this dish. Or you may substitute with fresh sliced pork or chicken, prawns and squid.
¼ whole Cabbage, shredded.
2 Carrots, shredded.
¼-½ cup Dried Shrimps (high in cholesterol and taste, so you decide the amount or omit them).
8-10 Dried Shitake Mushrooms, reconstituted and shredded.
2 cloves Garlic, minced.
1-2 tablespoons Groundnut Oil.
1 tablespoon Oyster Sauce.
3 tablespoons Light Soy Sauce.
A few dashes of White Pepper Powder.
A few dashes of Sesame Oil (after turning off heat to perfume dish).
Chopped Cilantro Leaves.
Red cut Chillies.
Calamansi Limes, halved. Squeeze over the noodles before eating.