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"Mee Siam" - Thai Rice Noodles in a Spicy Broth


Flavor-rich Siamese Noodles (with Toppings)

This noodle dish, literally translated as "Noodles from Siam" actually has its roots in nearby Malaysia, where it is usually eaten for breakfast (which explains the addition of boiled eggs). However, I find it also makes a great dinner dish. Vermicelli noodles are surrounded by a rich shrimp-based broth that is deliciously unique in taste. To serve it the authentic way, scoop noodles into bowls along with the sauce, then place all other toppings on the table and let your guests put the final dressings on this fun and flavorful dish. But be forewarned: these noodles can become addictive!

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes


  • MAKES enough sauce to serve 2-3 people
  • 1/2 to 3/4 package rice vermicelli noodles (or portion out enough for each person)
  • 1 cup broth
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 3 shallots, chopped fine (or 1 small onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. regular chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut, sunflower, or other oil for frying
  • 1 1/2 tsp. shrimp paste (available by the jar at Asian/Chinese food stores)
  • 1 Tbsp. ground bean sauce
  • 1 tsp. tamarind paste (or more according to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 fresh red chili, de-seeded and minced, OR 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, OR 1 tsp. Nam Prik Pao
  • handful of fresh basil leaves (holy or sweet basil), roughly chopped
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3 spring onions, sliced fine
  • 1/2 package deep-fried tofu, cut into small square pieces
  • optional: 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 2 key limes cut in half (or regular limes cut into wedges)
  • optional: sugar to taste


  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a near-boil, then dunk in the dried rice noodles. Remove pot from heat and press the noodles into the water. Allow noodles to soak while you make the sauce.
  2. Place oil in a wok or deep frying pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add shallots and garlic, and stir fry one minute.
  4. Add fresh red chili (or substitutes) and chili powder, frying briefly.
  5. Add broth and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat to medium and add the shrimp paste, bean sauce, fish sauce, and tamarind paste, stirring to incorporate. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Finally, add the coconut milk. When coconut milk has melted into the broth, do a taste test. This "sauce" should be tangy - a balance of salty and sour - and a little spicy. If not salty enough, add up to 2 Tbsp. fish sauce. If too salty, add a squeeze of lime juice.
  8. If too sour, add 1-2 tsp. sugar, or more to taste.
  9. Keep soup warm on minimum heat.
  10. By now the noodles should be ready. Taste one to make sure it is soft enough to eat. If not, place pot over medium heat until noodles are done. Drain and set aside.
  11. To serve, place generous mounds of noodles in serving bowls and ladle soup over top (bowls should be at least 1/3 full of the spicy soup). Now either add the other toppings yourself, or place in bowls and allow guests to add their own.
  12. Serve with slices of key lime on the side, as well as additional red chilies or chili sauce (for guests who like it extra spicy), either store-bought or my own homemade Nam Prik Pao Chili Sauce Recipe.[/link"> ENJOY!

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