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.Hetty Lui McKinnon (@hettymckinnon)Food writer and author of Family: New Vegetarian Comfort Food to Nourish Every Day

Hetty Lui McKinnon
Advertisement

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Cook or soak noodles according to package directions for al dente. Drain.

    Advertisement
  • Combine eggs, 1 tablespoon water, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a small bowl; whisk well. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large cast-iron skillet or wok over medium-high. Pour in egg mixture and scramble until just set, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Break up eggs with a spoon and remove from pan; set aside.

  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same pan. Add onion and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and bell peppers; stir-fry until vegetables are softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from pan.

  • Heat 3 tablespoons oil in pan. Add curry powder and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cooked noodles in 2 batches, along with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and ½ teaspoon salt. (Toss first batch of noodles well, coating them thoroughly in curry, before adding second batch.) Let noodles crisp up here and there on bottom of pan for about 3 minutes. Return peppers and eggs to pan and toss. Remove from heat and add scallions. Serve topped with more scallions and hot sauce, if desired.

Chef's Notes

These crispy noodles are easily adaptable—use chopped broccoli or snow peas in addition to (or in place of) the peppers.