Names can sometimes be deceptive, and Mee Rebus, which literally translates to "Boiled Noodles," is like that. This full-power Malaysian street food classic is SO much less basic than a bowl of plain ol’ boring cooked noodles.
This curry is made thick and sweet by using mashed sweet potato in its aromatic broth. Infused with galangal, a fermented bean paste, lemongrass and fragrant spices, including curry powder, the gravy made from pureed or mashed sweet potatoes turns noodles into a balanced-tasting comfort food that makes me want to get the heck back onto a plane to Kota Kinabalu (my home away from home in Borneo, just a short plane ride from Kuala Lumpur), where the Malay/Chinese vegetarian restaurants serve it in generous big bowls.
Malaysian and Indonesian street food has inspired so much of the food I served on my food truck, The Cinnamon Snail. On my blog, you can find a few other famous Malay and Indonesian hawker stall gems like Kush Ketayap, Sayur Lodeh, Bami Goreng and Mee Goreng, where you can get a feel for the diverse vibe of this vibrant cuisine.
Are you ready to make vegan Mee Rebus that rivals anything you can find in night markets and hawker stalls? Grab your apron and get ready to unleash some seriously BOMB aromas!
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🥰Why this recipe rocks and you will love it.
✊Vegan AF: This Malaysian Mee Rebus recipe is entirely plant-based, and has been meticulously tweaked to be massively flavorful without the need for animal products. It's a win-win-win for your taste buds, the animals, and the environment! No beef, shrimp paste, dried shrimp, or boiled eggs in this delightful curry!
🌿Nourishing as all get out: With no artificial or processed ingredients, and a nice balance of protein, vitamins, and natural plant-based fats, this hot bowl of curry noodles is the best comfort food. If I have had a stressful day, nothing soothes me like cooking up a great big bowl of noodles that I typically eat in the bathtub (don’t judge me, ok?).
✅Tested and Approved Worldwide: Like all of the recipes on my blog, this Malaysian noodle recipe has undergone meticulous testing and tweaking to achieve perfection. In addition to my own testing, a dedicated team of recipe testers have made it in their kitchens all over the planet and given their stamp of approval.
🍠Notable ingredients and substitutions
Although people around the world associate curry powder with Indian cuisine, it’s actually much more widely used outside of India. Yellow curry powder is a quintessential ingredient in Malaysian cuisine, infusing the Mee Rebus broth with its vibrant color and aromatic flavor. Opt for reputable Malaysian brands like Alagappa's or Adabi for an authentic touch. Don't be scared. While these curry powders are marketed as "meat curry powder," they don't contain animal products. For a substitution, you can use a combination of ground turmeric, ground fenugreek, ground coriander, and ground cumin to replicate the distinct taste of this spice blend.
Galangal, also known as "Lengkuas" in Malaysia, is a chunky ol’ rhizome with a pungent, citrusy, and slightly sweet flavor. If you can't get your hands on fresh galangal, you can use dried galangal or ginger as a substitute, though it may have a milder taste.
Vegetarian Oyster Sauce
Vegetarian oyster sauce is a thick plant-based alternative to the traditional oyster sauce, providing an umami-rich sweetness to the gravy. If unavailable, you can replace it with a combination of kecap manis (thick, sweet Malaysian soy sauce) and mushroom powder, to achieve a similar umami flavor.
Taucu, is a somewhat chunky fermented bean paste used in Malaysian and Indonesian cooking. I like Tean's Gourmet or Kwong Heng Loong brands. If you cannot find taucu, you can use miso paste, doengjang, or Chinese fermented soybean paste. Just make sure the paste you use contains no animal-based ingredients.
Vegan fresh yellow noodles, made without any animal products, are the perfect base for this exquisite dish. These noodles are slightly chewy and have a delightful yellow hue that looks a little like egg noodles. If you can't find fresh yellow noodles, you can use fresh Shanghai-style noodles, or substitute with half the amount of dried or fresh udon noodles.
The Cantonese name yàuhjagwái is even better, which literally translates to “oil-fried devil”. This crispy-on-the-outside and fluffy-on-the-inside fried dough, can be found frozen or refrigerated at Asian grocery stores, but isn’t always vegan, so be sure to read the ingredients. If you don’t know what else to use these Chinese crullers for, they make a kick-ass filling in my Chee Cheong Fun recipe.
📖 How to make perfect mee rebus
Floating to noodle heaven on a raft of crisp youtiao in an ocean of golden curry, you will hear the siren song of lemongrass calling out to you from the shorelines of puffed tofu. This right here is your step-by-step guide to curry ambrosia. Otherwise, skip to the bottom of the page and follow along with the easy-to-print recipe card.
Peel the sweet potatoes for a smoother curry, or leave the skins on because you crave the extra nutrition, and then chop into 1-inch cubes (about 2.5 cm).
Either steam or boil the sweet potato cubes for 8-10 minutes until they become fork-tender.
Once tender , drain, and let them cool down a bit.
Blend the sweet potatoes with 8 cups of water in a couple of batches in your blender, or use an immersion blender and blend them in a pot. Set this blended sweet potato liquid aside for later.
In your trusty blender, toss in the bird's eye chili, curry powder, shallot, garlic, galangal, ginger, and three tablespoons of water. Blend on high speed for 60-90 seconds until you have a fairly smooth paste.
Preheat the oven to 350. Cut the youtaio into 3-inch (7.5 cm) sections and roast them for 7-8 minutes to crisp them.
Remove any dry external leaves and tough-feeling tip portions of the lemongrass, and cut the long lemongrass into two shorter halves. Use the side of a heavy knife or cleaver to firmly press down on the lemongrass and bruise it so that it releases more of its flavor and fragrance as it cooks.
Grab a large frying pan, dutch oven, or wok, and heat cooking oil over medium heat. Once the oil is sizzling, add the contents of the blender (the mee rebus paste) and toss in that bruised lemongrass stalk. Cook for 3-4 minutes until it becomes aromatic and turns into a beautiful, darker shade of yum.
Add the sweet potato puree to the pot along with the bean paste, coconut sugar, tomato paste, rice vinegar, salt, and some vegan oyster sauce. Turn the heat up to high, and allow the curry to bubble and thicken a little. If you want it even thicker, simply lower the flame and let it cook without a lid for an extra 20 minutes until it's your desired thickness.
While the broth is cooking, bring a pot of water to boil, and add the mung bean sprouts for a quick blanching for 60-90 seconds. Then, using a spider or slotted spoon, remove the sprouts from the water and set them aside for later (don’t drain the water in the pot).
Boil the noodles according to the package instructions. Once they're tender, drain them in a colander or wire mesh strainer and rinse them under warm running water to say goodbye to any extra starch sticking around. Peace out, cub scout ✌️
🍜 How to serve mee rebus
Ladle the broth into four large bowls.
Now, with the help of tongs, divide the noodles into each bowl, and toss those blanched bean sprouts onto the other sides. I like to dunk the noodles under the surface of the broth so that it coats the noodles a little.
Now, add some tofu puffs (about 4-6 per bowl) and two slices of toasted youtiao to each bowl. I like to put them around the perimeter of the bowl, but you do you, as they say.
Garnish each bowl with fried shallots, cilantro leaves, and thinly sliced scallions, and serve with calamansi or lime wedge.
Make a Southeast Asian street food feast!
Serve with a hot bowl of Sayur Lodeh, an Indonesian vegetable stew topped with banana leaf compressed rice cakes. Or with some veggies marinated and grilled with either gochujang BBQ sauce or Tom Yum paste with fried kaffir lime leaves. Serve alongside the smoky flavors of char-grilled eggplant salad, or crispy tofu sisig from the Philippines.
Pair this Vegan Malaysian Mee Rebus with Bami Goreng, an Indonesian stir-fried noodle dish, and Mie Goreng, Ketoprak or Vietnamese Rice Paper Salad, a refreshing noodle salad bursting with herbs and veggies. Crispy wonton-wrapped rice dumplings with red jujube dates could also be a lovely noodle accompaniment.
Finish the meal with Kuih Ketayap, a pandan-infused, coconut-stuffed crepe found all over Malaysia in night markets and roadside stalls. Or have Banh Flan, a Vietnamese caramel custard, Martabak Manis, an Indonesian peanut and chocolate stuffed pancake. If it’s hot AF out and you want something chilly, smash some Che Ba Mau, an icy and colorful Vietnamese dessert.
Rejoice! You don’t need a heck of a lot of stuff to make perfect Mee Rebus! You can simply boil it in a baseball hat. Ok, just kidding. But really, you don’t need that much gear. Here’s what’s up:
Pot, Dutch Oven and maybe a steamer: For steaming or boiling the sweet potatoes and cooking the noodles and the curry.
Blender: I really love my Blendtec blender and can’t recommend it enough! For real, I have been using their blenders professionally and also at home since before the company was even called Blendtec (it used to be K-tec). Anyway, you can totes use a different brand, but that’s the one I use and love.
Cutting Board, peeler and knife: To peel and dice the sweet potatoes and prepare the aromatics and spices for the curry paste.
Spider or Slotted Spoon and Tongs: For blanching the mung bean sprouts, removing them from the boiling water, and plating the noodles and whatnot.
Colander or wire mesh strainer: for draining your sweet potatoes, noodles and placing all the awards you win from your family for making their favorite din din.
To store your Mee Rebus, it's best to keep the curry and noodles separate, that way you can neatly and nicely assemble it when you serve it later on. Place the curry in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Store the noodles and other components in separate containers in the refrigerator for up to four days.
The noodles should be massaged with a little oil to prevent them from sticking together. Ideally, keep the beansprouts raw, and freshly blanch before serving. They are the main ingredient that has the tendency to go bad here.
The youtiao may need to be freshly toasted before you serve it.
🍜Of course, if you don’t really care, or are prepping it to bring for lunch at work, just portion the components into containers as you please.
🥶 Can you freeze Mee Rebus?
If you would like to hold onto this dish forever (ok, like a maximum of three months), you can portion and freeze the curry, and separately freeze the tofu puffs and youtiao in labeled airtight containers. The noodles, garnishes, and beansprouts should not be frozen, and should instead be prepared fresh when you thaw and heat the curry.
🔥 Stovetop Reheating
To reheat the curry, pour it into a saucepan and warm it over medium heat. Stir occasionally to ensure even heating. If the curry thickens too much upon reheating, you can add a splash of water to reach your desired consistency. Once the curry is heated through, add the noodles, and plate with the other components when you serve it.
☢️ Microwave Reheating
For reheating the curry in the microwave, transfer it to a microwave-safe dish along with the noodles and cover it with a microwave-safe lid or microwave-safe plate. Heat it in short intervals, stirring in between, until the curry and noodles are thoroughly heated. Add the other components and garnishes after the curry and noodles have been heated.
Instead of the traditional yellow noodles, use gluten-free rice noodles. A thicker kind, like what you would use to make pad thai are best. Otherwise, a gluten-free spaghetti noodle will work great. Make sure that the bean paste you use contains no wheat, and leave out the youtiao when you plate it, and you are all good!
Absolutely! Feel free to customize the dish with your favorite vegetables like broccoli, snow peas, steamed kabocha, or bell peppers to make it even more nutritious and colorful.
You can control the heat by adjusting the amount of bird's eye chili in the spice paste, or by adding or leaving out more or less jalapeño slices when you serve it.
✌️You might really wanna make these too.
These are some of my favey dishes to serve with mee rebus:
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Mee Rebus (Vegan Malaysian noodles in sweet potato gravy)
- 1 pound 0.45 kg. sweet potatoes
- 6 cups water
- 1 bird’s eye chili thai chili, stem removed
- 4 teaspoons yellow curry powder use a reliably vegan meat curry powder
- 2 large shallots peeled and quartered
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons grated galangal
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil canola, oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, or peanut oil
- 1 stalk lemongrass
- 4 teaspoons Taucu Chinese fermented bean paste, or Doenjang
- 3 tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 tablespoon vegetarian oyster sauce
- ½ pound 225 g. bean sprouts
- 1 pound fresh vegan yellow noodles or another thin fresh noodle of your choice
- 5 oz. Tofu puffs (or 1 block firm tofu, diced and fried)
- 1 vegan youtiao Chinese cruller, cut into 2-inch (5 cm.) sections and toasted at 350 for 8 minutes
- 1 jalapeño and/or 2 bird's eye chilies thinly sliced
- Fried shallots
- Cilantro leaves
- 2 scallions thinly sliced
- Calamansi halves or lime wedges
- Remove the skins from the sweet potato for a smoother brighter curry, and then cut the sweet potatoes into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes.
- Steam or boil the sweet potatoes for 8-10 minutes until fork-tender.
- Drain and cool the sweet potatoes, and then blend until smooth in batches along with 8 cups of water. Set the blended sweet potato liquid aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350. Cut the youtaio into 3-inch (7.5 cm) sections and roast them for 7-8 minutes to crisp them.
- Blend the bird’s eye chili, curry powder, shallot, garlic, galangal, ginger, and 3 tablespoons of water for 60-90 seconds on high speed until a paste is formed.
- Remove any dry external leaves from the lemon grass, cut it in half and then bruise the lemongrass by pressing down firmly on it with the side of a heavy knife or cleaver.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan, dutch oven or wok over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the contents of the blender and the bruised lemongrass stalk. Cook the curry paste for 3-4 minutes until aromatic and darkened.
- Add sweet potato puree and the bean paste, coconut sugar, tomato paste, rice vinegar, salt, and vegan oyster sauce. Turn the heat up to high and cook the broth until it has boiled and thickened a little. If you desire a thicker curry, lower the flame after it has come to a boil, m and cook the curry without a lid for an additional 20 minutes until it has reduced to your desired thickness.
- While the broth cooks, bring a pot of water up to a boil. Blanch the mung bean sprouts for 90 seconds and then remove them with a spider or slotted spoon. Set aside.
- Using the same cooking water, boil the noodles according to the package instructions, then drain and rinse with warm running water to remove additional starch.
- Divide the broth evenly into 4 large bowls. Using tongs, place a generous heap of noodles on one side of each bowl, and divide the bean sprouts into the other side of each bowl. Place 4-6 tofu puffs into each bowl, along with 2 sections of toasted youtiao. Garnish each bowl with jalapeños and/or sliced bird’s eye chilies, fried shallots, cilantro leaves, thinly sliced scallions, and either calamansi or lime wedges.