When I was growing up,Saturdays were all about feasting on my mother's noodles for lunch. She'd whip up several of her signature big-flavored Cantonese noodle dishes—seafood chow mein, beef chow fun, soy sauce egg noodles—along with a platter of fried rice, and we'd gather around the table for the only lunch of the week we shared together at home. (Sunday lunch was usu- ally dim sum in Sydney's Chinatown.)
My mother's curry rice vermicelli was a staple, a dish she never failed to declare to be "silkier" than what we'd find at restaurants. It is well-known that Chinese mothers often chase compliments for their own cooking around the dining table. But her declaration was true. Her secret, she told me, was briefly cooking the curry powder in oil before adding the noodles. Usually, dry curry was added straight to the noodles, which made them "grainy." My mother always shared her clever cooking tips, which now play on a loop in my head when I'm in the kitchen.
Her curry rice vermicelli is very similar to what's known as Singapore noodles. Despite its name, the dish is believed to be of Cantonese origin and is served at Chinese restaurants. I'm still not sure where she learned to cook this dish, but it was likely a recipe she picked up while living in Hong Kong with her aunts during her early 20s.
As a traditional Chinese grandmother, my mother has always played a big role in feeding my children. She started making this dish for my kids when they were very young. When we were still living in Sydney, she'd visit at least twice a week. In her bag, among the chocolates and candy, there'd often be a Tupperware container of curry rice vermicelli. My youngest son, Huck, loved this dish so much as a baby that my mother made a huge platter of it (along with dumplings and char siu baos) for his first birthday.
Today, the dish is a family staple as a quick weeknight dinner. Since we now live in New York, halfway across the world from my mother, cooking these noodles is incredibly nostalgic, reminding me of how my mother nurtured us through food. In Chinese culure, food is a way for elders to express love for their children and grandchildren. This was definitely the case for my mother.