How do you prevent fried beehoon from sticking to the wok?
Ask any cook and that is probably their no 1 pet peeve when cooking fried beehoon, a simple and most delicious dish. Washing the wok after frying, however, is a pain of epic proportions. I usually soak the wok in hot water to “lift” the crust of burnt beehoon bits stuck to the bottom of the wok. Even then it’s no easy task scraping them off.
Lately though, I’ve been able to fry noodles and end up with a clean wok bottom.
The reason, if my engineer-by-training husband is correct in his theory, is because I:
Add the sauces to the noodles BEFORE frying them
Complete disclosure: I picked up that technique from another internet cook (sorry can’t remember where). She does this because it’s less messy to add the sauces at the early stage, compared to mixing them into the noodles during the process of frying.
My husband thinks there is another benefit to this technique. It prevents the noodles from sticking to the hot wok surface. “Noodles contain starch and when starch comes into contact with hot oil, it melts and sticks to the surface. When you add the sauces to the noodles first, the sauces add a layer of lubricant that coats the noodles and prevents this from happening.”
Imagine that! I always thought my fried beehoon doesn’t stick to the surface because I add enough oil at the beginning and it’s hot enough before I start frying. But his theory kind of makes sense. Think of it as the reverse theory of cooking pot stickers. You cook them by frying the frozen dumplings on a non-stick pan, then add water to the pan and cover them to steam through, then let the water evaporates. This results in an extra-crisp bottom crust. That’s because the starch from the dumpling skin has melted during the steaming process and amalgamated with the hot oil to form that crust.
That’s our loyar buruk theory anyway, so food nerds and scientists, don’t rip us to pieces if we’re wrong!
The only downside to this method? Those caramelised burnt bits (or “kerak”) that are a nightmare to eliminate are also delicious. As a kid, I loved scraping them off the wok up with a doek before my mum put the wok to the wash ☺
Another tip: Using brown rice vermicelli yields a better result.
Brown rice vermicelli has more bite and is slightly chewy compared to conventional white beehoon. Bonus: it’s also healthier! I’ve been using the one from local health foods manufacturer Cottage Farm all this while 🙂
Dried Shrimp Fried Beehoon
- 2 servings dried beehoon (rice vermicelli)
- 2 tbsp dried shrimp, roughly chopped
- 2 bulbs large shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly minced
- 1/4 small cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1/2 small carrot, julienned
- 1/2-1 tbsp light soya sauce
- 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp white pepper powder
- 2-3 tbsp tbsp cooking oil
- A few tbsp water
- Prep your ingredients ahead of time.
- Start by soaking the beehoon in water for 20 minutes or so, until soft. Room temperature water is good enough (See Recipe Notes 1). Drain, then add soya sauce and fish sauce and mix well with noodles.
- In a small bowl, soak dried prawns in enough water to cover. After 20 minutes, drain. Squeeze as much water as possible out of the prawns – just use your hand – or else they will “jump” up too much when frying in oil. Chop dried prawns roughly with knife.
- Heat up oil and put in chopped dried prawns. Fry for about a minute until fragrant and light brown. Cover with a wok if you find the prawns getting too jumpy. Remove from wok.
- Using the same oil in the wok, saute garlic and shallots until fragrant and they start to brown.
- Add in carrots and cabbage. Toss well to ensure they’re coated with the fragrant oil.
- Add in beehoon and dried prawns. Toss to mix thoroughly and fry until noodles are tender. Add in water if necessary.
- Finally, add in white pepper and give one final toss. For a truly Malaysian spin, serve with sunny side up fried egg.
- A lot of the beehoon package instructions recommend you soak them in hot water. I don’t do this because it makes the noodles soften too much and clump together in the hot wok. Room temperature water is good enough.
- You can also cut the beehoon strands to make frying easier.
For a more adult version of fried beehoon, check out my fried bittergourd beehoon!