Fried saimin is the same as saimin, but without the soup! It’s easy to make. All you need are the noodles and toppings like Spam, kamaboko (fish cake), carrots, eggs, and green onions.
Fried saimin, ready to eat ^_^
Few things are more tasty than a plate of fried saimin for lunch!
What Is Fried Saimin?
Remember this post about saimin? Saimin is the staple noodle soup of Hawaii (similar to how Japanese have ramen and Cantonese have wonton mein).
Fried saimin is saimin, but without the soup! (similar Japanese equivalent is mazemen, and the Cantonese equivalent is chow mein).
Fried saimin has the same flavors as regular saimin but the seasonings are tossed directly with the noodles instead of being used to make soup.
Frozen saimin noodles with the seasoning packet (“instant soup base”)
How To Eat Fried Saimin
With chopsticks, ideally. Fried saimin can be a main dish, or part of a larger meal. I often make a single serving portion (recipe below) of fried saimin for lunch. It comes together quickly and is immensely satisfying.
Fried saimin is also a popular potluck dish (along with Pan Sushi).
Plate lunch spots also offer fried saimin (or another type of fried noodle) as part of a plate. You’d pick a vegetable and meat to go on the side.
Fried Saimin in Hawaii
You can find fried saimin everywhere you can find regular saimin. And in Hawaii, that is at a lot of places! There are a few places that I often visit:
- Shige’s Saimin Stand (Oahu) – Definitely don’t miss this place when you’re on Oahu! Noodles are made in-house daily. Order both the saimin and fried saimin so you can do side by side comparisons. They are both so very delicious.
- Shiro’s Saimin Haven (Oahu) – Shiro’s has over 60 types of saimin and the noodles are made in-house! I like the fried saimin with mochiko chicken on top.
- Zippy’s (Oahu, Maui, Big Island) – Hawaii’s local go-to diner. In addition to saimin they have all the good local favorites like beef stew, shoyu chicken, and Portuguese bean soup.
- Sam Sato’s (Maui) – A famous Maui classic. Sam Sato’s specialty is Dry Mein (fried saimin minus the pay frying part, the noodles are just tossed with the seasoning and toppings)
- Hamura Saimin (Kauai) – A must when in Kauai! Note: fried saimin is listed on the menu as “Fried Noodles.” Hamura’s is located near the airport so be sure to visit right after you land or before you leave Kauai.
Saimin noodles (boil the frozen noodles for 30 seconds before pan frying with the toppings)
All Hawaii locals know about saimin noodles, but I understand that this is a pretty specific “Hawaii thing.”
Saimin noodles are made of wheat and egg. They are similar to ramen noodles (also wheat-based, though doesn’t include egg), but entirely their own thing. They’re slightly wavy, and very wonderful to eat.
We can get both fresh (I like to visit the Sun Noodle factory for fresh ramen noodles) and frozen saimin noodles in Hawaii.
What if you’re on the mainland? No worries. You can find saimin noodles on the mainland! Check the frozen noodle section of your local Japanese market. Nijiya and Mitsuwa are both reliable sources. Visit this post for more details about saimin noodles brands and specifics.
Ramen noodles will work in a pinch.
Standard toppings: Spam, kamaboko (fish cake), carrots, eggs, and green onions.
Fried Saimin Method
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This dish is essentially a fried noodle recipe. It has three parts:
- Saimin Noodles
I use one pack of saimin noodles per serving. The noodles include 4.5 ounces of saimin noodles and a small seasoning packet.
The neat part about this dish is that it has so much flavor but only uses two seasoning items. The first is the dashi-based seasoning packet that comes with the saimin. The second is just soy sauce! So easy.
The standard fried saimin toppings include:
- Kamaboko (fish cake)
- Green onion
Many people also like to add:
- Char siu
The toppings are flexible, use as much or as little as you like.
The first thing you must do is prepare all your ingredients. Slice the Spam and kamaboko (aim for thick matchsticks). Julienne the carrots. Beat and scramble the egg. Let cool and then slice thin. Chop green onions. Set all those things on the side.
The boil water, cook the saimin noodles for just 30 seconds. You don’t want to cook it all the way (because we will be pan frying them as well). The whole point of this step is to get the noodles unfrozen and separated). Rinse them under cool water to remove the starch. And then you just drain and set it aside.
Now we start cook! This part comes together quickly. First you cook the Spam for a few minutes, until you get some nice crispy bits. Then add the kamaboko and carrots and cook another minute. Then you pour all that out on a plate.
Add more oil to the pan and add the drained saimin noodles. Pan fry for a minute, then add half the seasoning packet. Stir so that the seasoning is evenly distributed. Then add Spam/kamaboko/carrots back in, along with the other half of the seasoning packet and the soy sauce. Stir fry for a minute more.
Add in the egg and green onions. Toss, toss, and you’re done! This dish is super hot from the pan, but also holds well at room temperature (which is why it is such a popular potluck dish).
Fried Saimin, ready to eat.
Substitutions and Secrets
As long as you follow the general recipe format, fried saimin is very much open to adjustments and substitutions:
- Many insist the “secret” to a super great fried saimin is to add a spoonful of oyster sauce (the same time you add the soy sauce). Try it! It is pretty tasty that way ^_^
- Another secret is to add just a tiny pour of toasted sesame oil at the very end. This makes the dish extra fragrant.
- How fried you want the noodles is up to you. Some people like to fry the noodles longer so that they get some browned/crisp parts. Others like it softer, more steamy. Do the pan frying step longer for crisper noodles, and shorter for softer noodles.
- Spam is the standard fried saimin meat, but it’s pretty common to mix Spam and char siu. If you don’t have either, it’s still a recipe worth making…try use sliced sausages or bacon.
Fried Saimin Recipe
See below ^_^
- First step is to prepare all the topping ingredients. Slice the Spam and kamaboko (aim for the size of a fat matchstick). Peel and julienne the carrot. Beat the egg, scramble the egg, and then sliced thinly. Chop the green onion. Set all this on the side.
- Next, prepare the noodles. Bring water to a boil in a small pot. Drop in the frozen noodle and cook for 30 seconds. Remove and drain immediately. Rinse with cool water (this stops the noodles from further cooking and also removes excess starch).
- Now we start cooking! Put a little oil in a saucepan, and pan fry the Spam over medium heat. Pan fry for 2-3 minutes (until it starts to brown a bit). Then add the kamaboko and carrots. Pan fry another 2 minutes and then pour everything out into a bowl.
- Add a bit more oil to the empty saucepan, and then add in the saimin noodles. Stir fry for 2 minutes (longer for more crisp noodles, less for softer noodles). Add in half the seasoning packet and mix well so that the seasoning is evenly distributed.
- Add the Spam/kamaboko/carrots back in the pack. Stir fry everything together and add in the remaining half of the seasoning packet and a teaspoon of soy sauce. Sitr fry another minute. Add in the sliced egg and green onions. Toss quickly, and pour onto a plate. Eat and enjoy! ^_^