This vegan Mee Siam is utterly delicious and super easy to put together. It’s a plate of spicy, tangy stir-fried rice vermicelli that is so appetizing, I couldn’t stop after one bite.
Mee Siam has always been my favorite breakfast item to get at warung (a small restaurant in Malay) as a kid. This simple dish is made from stir frying the rice vermicelli (bihun) in a spicy sauce usually made from sambal and then seasoned with tamarind juice for the tang. Yes, it does sound so similar to tom yum which is why I like it so much.
While the traditional mee Siam may consist belacan or shrimp paste, this recipe is vegan and made using the homemade sambal paste similar to my nasi lemak bungkus. You can easily customize this dish with your own spicy and tang level.
To make Vegan Mee Siam, you’ll need
Rice vermicelli or rice stick – this is a type of thin noodle typically made from rice and water.
Sambal or cooked chile paste is used for the spicy element. Use a homemade or store-bought version. If you can’t find Malaysian sambal paste that is vegan friendly, red curry paste is a good substitute, and adjust the sugar accordingly.
Tangy flavors from tamarind juice, ketchup, and lime juice. I highly recommend making the tamarind juice from the wet paste. It tastes fresh and that sourness is really addictive. To give the dish more tang, I added a squeeze of lime juice before serving.
How to cook vegan Mee Siam
First, prepare the rice vermicelli as directed on the package. I like to undercook them a little so the texture will be just right after the sauce is added. Then, prepare your protein. I’m using pan-fried tofu seasoned with salt here. Alternatively, cooked seitan or any vegan meat is a great choice for this dish.
Now, heat a large wok with oil and sauté the garlic until fragrant, followed by carrot and onion. If you are using shallot, then sauté it with garlic instead.
Stir the sambal and fermented bean sauce (taucu), then add cabbage, tofu, and season with salt. Toss for about a minute before pouring in the vegetable stock.
You’ll notice that I mentioned 1-2 cups of vegetable stock. Add it in according to how you prepare your rice vermicelli. Some brands soak up more water than others so it’s a good idea to start with the lowest amount of stock. You don’t want to end up with mushy rice vermicelli.
Then, season with ketchup, tamarind juice, sugar, mushrooms seasoning, and add the rice vermicelli.
Toss to combine and if you like a darker mee siam like me, then stir in the dark soy sauce.
Finally, fold in the mung bean sprouts, green onions, and fried shallots and cook until the sprouts are as crisp as you like. Don’t forget to season. Turn off the heat and serve warm with more fried shallot and a squeeze of lime juice.
Which rice vermicelli to use?
The rice vermicelli used here is made from rice, water, and some brands may have salt. The instructions on how to cook them vary by brand. Please note that I’m using the thin rice vermicelli. Below are some brands that I used and tips on how to cook them. Note: I always recommend that you get these at the store because it’s more affordable compared to online.
Wai Wai Brand – this is suitable for stir-fried dishes or soup. I prefer to soak them in water until pliable because this type of rice vermicelli tends to turn softer in a short time. So, I never cook these in hot water unless I need them for soup.
Famous Buddha brand or other Hsin Chuk rice vermicelli – this tends to have a springy texture so I prefer to boil them quickly in water before stir-frying.
More noodle dishes to try!
This vegan mee siam is
- packed with lots of vegetables
- easily customizable
- great for make-ahead meals
- Delicious and flavorful
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback and see your beautiful re-creation. Leave me a comment, rate it, and tag @woon.heng and #woonheng to your photos on Instagram or Facebook. Happy cooking, friends!
Vegan Mee Siam
- 180 g dried rice vermicelli
- 2 garlic clove finely minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped onion or 1 large shallot finely chopped (see notes)
- 2½ tablespoons sambal plus more to taste
- 2½ tablespoons fermented bean sauce taucu
- 1 small carrot ~¼ cup, sliced
- 200 g [3 cups] chopped cabbage
- 7 oz tofu sliced, pan-fried & salted
- ¾ teaspoon salt plus more to taste
- 1-2 cups veggie stock*
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 3 tablespoons tamarind juice plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon mushrooms seasoning or vegetable seasoning
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon dark soy sauce for color
- 2½ cups mung bean sprouts
- 3 stalks green onion
- 3 tablespoons fried shallots separated
- lime juice for serving
- oil for cooking
- First, dilute a golf ball size of wet tamarind in ¼ cup of water. Using your fingers, squeeze and rub the tamarind seeds to release the flavor, then let it sit for 5 minutes. Drain out the juice and set it aside. Reserve the tamarind for other uses such as in soup.
- Prepare the rice vermicelli as directed on the package. I like to undercook it slightly and adjust the doneness using vegetable stock later.
- To make the mee siam, heat a large wok or skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil. Sauté garlic until fragrant, then add carrot, onion, and continue to stir-fry for about a minute.
- Stir in the sambal and fermented bean sauce. Add the cabbage, tofu, and season with salt.
- Then, add the vegetable stock and season with ketchup, tamarind juice, mushrooms seasoning, and sugar.
- Add the rice vermicelli and dark soy sauce, then toss until all the sauce has been absorbed. If the noodles appear to be too dry, add the remaining vegetable stock, ½ a cup at a time.
- Once the noodles have fully cooked through, fold in the mung bean sprouts, green onions and a tablespoon of fried shallots. Toss for another minute so or until the bean sprouts are as crisp as you like.
- Turn off the heat and transfer noodles to a plate and top with more fried shallots and a squeeze of lime juice before serving.
- If you are using shallot, sauté it along with the garlic until fragrant.
- For homemade sambal, please check the nasi lemak bungkus recipe. If you prefer to get a store-bought version, try Ayam brand Malaysian curry paste (that doesn’t contain any shrimp paste) or sub with a Thai red curry paste and adjust the sweetness accordingly.
- *To make a quick vegetable stock, I added ½ tablespoon Yondu (leek seasoning, see picture below) to 1 cup of water.
- Because there are many ways to prepare the rice vermicelli depending on which brand you get, I always start with a smaller amount of liquid and adjust accordingly. So, start with 1 cup of vegetable stock and top it once you’ve added the rice vermicelli.
Feel free to pin the below picture on your Pinterest Board for easy reference.
Other products I used:
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Thick dark soy sauce
Yondu – umami seasoning made from leek