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Singapore Noodles

Why this recipe works:

Outside of the curry powder (which we sautéed with a bit of garlic to bring out its flavor), the sauce in a Singapore noodles recipe typically has three major components: a salty component, a sweet component, and a base that provides moisture and flavor.

Tasters unanimously favored soy sauce over fish sauce and oyster sauce, declaring that the fishy undertones of the other two options undermined the dish’s flavor. As for the sweet element, most Singapore noodles recipes specify granulated sugar or brown sugar, but a few go with mirin, a Japanese rice wine vinegar. The sugars got the job done, but the mirin was a revelation, providing a subtle sweetness that boosted the dish’s other flavors. (less)

This recipe was developed using Muchi curry powder, a spicy version from the southern part of India. Madras curry powder is similar. Most other curry powders are milder, so if you prefer spicy noodles, you can add a pinch of cayenne pepper.

1/2 pound tofu
2 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
2 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
3/4 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
6 ounces rice vermicelli (also called rice sticks)
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 medium shallots , sliced thin (about 1/4 cup)
1 medium red bell pepper , stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2 by 1/4-inch strips
1 cup bean sprouts

1. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a large saucepan for cooking the noodles.

2. Mix the tofu and 1/2 teaspoon curry powder in a small bowl and set it aside. Mix the garlic and remaining 2 teaspoons curry powder together in another bowl and set it aside. Mix the broth, soy sauce, and mirin together in a third bowl and set it aside.

3. Add 1 teaspoon salt and the noodles to the boiling water, stir to separate, and boil until tender, about 1 minute. Drain thoroughly and set the noodles aside.

4. Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the tofu and cook until slightly browned, about 45 seconds. Turn the tofu with tongs and continue to cook for another 45 seconds. Remove the tofu from the pan and set them aside in bowl.

5. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Add the garlic and curry powder mixture and cook until ¬fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the shallots and stir-fry until they begin to soften, about 30 seconds. Add the bell pepper and stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the softened noodles, tofu, broth mixture, and bean sprouts and toss until the ingredients are combined and the noodles heated through, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.