I am a huge, huge fan of vermicelli. I love noodles, like any other Chinese girls you know, but it is the white thin strands of vermicelli noodles that could make me eat more than I really should have. Vermicelli is always cooked in Chinese-style stir-fries dishes, but in Indonesian cuisine, my first love is simple fried vermicelli with spices. Vermicelli noodle is quite bland by itself, it is the texture that we all love. When cooked right, it is always springy. When cooked wrong, it would be lumpy and broken. I got it wrong many, many times. I played them around in the wok for way longer than I should, causing the noodles to be soft, then broken, naturally. Toss them around really quickly and just get them off the heat. That’s the only wisdom I can share.

The vermicelli is what we would normally find in traditional street vendor around the city. It is served as side dish of mixed vegetable salad with peanut sauce (Indonesian Pecal salad).

Basic fried noodles spices, Indonesian style, are whole white pepper, garlic, shallot, candlenuts and dried shrimp for extra kick. Omit the shrimp if you are making vegetarian version.

Work them into a paste in mortar and pestle, or electric grinder.

The paste is ready to be used when it is really fine.

Other condiments are cabbage, leek and Chinese celery. These are all shredded finely.

Use the best quality dried vermicelli you can find. Soak in water for 30 minutes before cooking. The better quality vermicelli would normally be slightly thinner, hence shorter cooking time and shorter soaking time. So adjust accordingly.

Stir fry spice paste with oil in a hot wok. Keep stirring till fragrant.

The dried shrimp would be hydrated by cooking oil and candlenut oil. Keep cooking till the color turns golden brown.

Add shredded cabbage into the wok.

Pour water into the wok. Cook slightly longer, till most of the water is absorbed by cabbage and it is completely cooked.

Season with soy sauce.

Stir until all ingredients are mixed well.

Add soaked vermicelli into the wok.

Stir-fry quickly so that the spices are evenly distributed.

Toss in celery and leek.

Remove from heat when everything is mixed well.

Serve with Indonesian pecal salad, or vegetable salad with peanut sauce.


Indonesian Fried Vermicelli, Bihun Goreng

Makes 6-8 servings


500 g dried vermicelli, soaked for 30 minutes
3 garlic cloves
3 shallots
20 g dried shrimp
20 g / 6 candlenuts
1 tbsp white pepper, whole
1/4 cup cooking oil
400 g cabbage, shredded
3 tbsp kecap manis
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/3 cup water
20 g / 3 stalks Chinese celery, chopped finely
20 g / 1 leek, sliced diagonally


Grind dried shrimp, candlenuts, white pepper, garlic and shallot till fine.
Heat cooking oil in a wok. Stir fry spice paste till fragrant, about 1 minute.
Toss in shredded cabbage, stir fry for one minute and add water into the wok.
Season with soy sauce and kecap manis. Cook for a couple of minutes and try to get all the spices mixed well with cabbage.
When the cabbage is wilted and slightly cooked, add vermicelli into the wok.
Stir fry everything together over medium heat for five more minutes.
Remove from heat and serve slightly cool with Indonesian-style vegetarian salad with peanut sauce.

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14 Responses to “Indonesian Fried Vermicelli”

  1. 1

    Pepy @Indonesia Eats — April 3, 2011 @ 9:15 am

    One of my faves too! Yumm

  2. 2

    Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets — April 3, 2011 @ 10:45 pm

    This looks so delicious!! I’ve actually never tried kecap manis but have seen it in several recipes I wanna try lately so will have to get it soon.

    • Jun replied: — April 4th, 2011 @ 1:02 am

      Try to get the smallest bottle you can find, although I am sure you will like it :)

  3. 3

    Kankana — April 4, 2011 @ 12:59 am

    the way we Indians eat vermicelli is SO diff and to be honest not one of my fav. This looks soo delicious and yummy.. this is going in my wish .. have to try this :)

  4. 4

    Kulsum at JourneyKitchen — April 4, 2011 @ 1:34 am

    Just yesterday I was talking about kecap manis to one Indonesian friend! I’m so wanting to buy it. This looks incredible. Just the kind of stir fry noodles I like. Quick ,simple and flavorful.

  5. 5

    mycookinghut — April 4, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

    I love bihun goreng!! Like you, I am a big fan of noodles, just delicious!

  6. 6

    OohLookBel — April 4, 2011 @ 11:49 pm

    That looks scrumptious. I love plain noodles with no meat, where dried shrimp is more for flavour.

  7. 7

    ovenhaven — April 5, 2011 @ 3:05 am

    I’m a big fan of bihun goreng, or rather, bihun to begin with :P I can never turn down a plate of bihun goreng, but have never tasted one seasoned with candlenut before. I bet this must be really flavorful!

    Thanks for dropping by my blog; I’m really loving yours :)

  8. 8

    Laura — April 7, 2011 @ 8:38 pm

    Words cannot express how good I think this looks. I LOVE rice vermicelli (actually I love all vermicelli, but especially rice). Do you think I can make this without candlenuts? Candlenuts remain the great obstacle for me in Indonesian cooking, I just cannot find good ones. Is there ANY substitute?

    Now have you shared or will you share a recipe for Indonesian Pescal Salad? ;)

  9. 9

    Agnes — April 8, 2011 @ 12:43 pm

    I live in California now although I am a Chinese. I would like to try this recipe but I could not find candlenuts and kecap manis. Pls advise any substitutes?

  10. 10

    Aud — June 18, 2011 @ 11:09 pm

    Wow…yum! Looks like Mee Siam from Southern Malaysia. Dried shrimps make everything taste good :)

    @ Agnes, candle nuts made their way to the US. If I could get them in Washington, you guys must have them in CA. Try Asian market/grocery stores.

  11. 11

    J. — July 23, 2011 @ 5:19 am

    Is your blog also publishing here ? http://tunzi.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/ooodles-of-noodles/ You have such lovely things…

    • Jun replied: — July 23rd, 2011 @ 7:50 am

      That site is a splog – spammers who “pretend” to be blogs by snatching people’s posts. Thank you for your visit!

  12. 12

    han — November 29, 2011 @ 9:38 pm

    I always like noodle and bihun goreng. And usually, i eat it together with fried tempe.

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