There are a few ingredients in this simple dish, reminiscent of the street-side noodle dishes you can get in Malaysia or southern Thailand.
To make the spice paste, pound the chillies, shallots, lemongrass and shrimp paste in a mortar with a pestle until fine. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pot and gently stir-fry the paste for 3–4 minutes. Add the soy beans and cook for 1 minute, stirring all the time. Sprinkle in the salt and sugar and stir-fry for another minute. Remove and reserve half of the paste, and leave the rest in the pot.
To make the sauce, put the reserved spice paste into a clean pot with the coconut milk. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time, then add the tamarind water. Continue to stir and simmer for 2–3 minutes.
Reheat the spice paste, add the bean sprouts and cook over high heat for 1 minute. Add the prawns and chives and cook for 30 seconds, stirring in the vermicelli
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