Crispy Rice Vermicelli with Seafood in Coconut Sauce

Updated June 30, 2016
This image courtesy of Mark T. Shapiro

Editor's Note: A dish that will make you feel as if you have visited the Philippine Islands can be a great summer entree for a dinner party. This light and tasty seafood and rice dish will give some ethnic flair to your overall presentation. The Filipino coconut sauce is an absolute staple among islanders. Pouring it over the deep fried rice with crispy and soft noodles will help to develop new layers of texture and enhance the eating experience. This also gives a new twist to your seafood, with the same spice and excitement you can find in the Philippines. 

Here we cook a mix of seafood in a traditional Filipino coconut sauce and pour it over crispy, deep-fried rice vermicelli. Some of the noodles soften and some remain crispy, giving the dish a full range of textures.


Cooking MethodFrying



Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe CourseMain Course

Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Gluten-free, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free




Taste and TextureCreamy, Crisp, Garlicky, Herby, Savory, Spiced


  • 2 cups (500 ml) vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) chopped shallots or onions
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) minced garlic
  • 1 to 3 tsp (5 to 15 ml) finely chopped chilies
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) minced ginger root
  • 3 anchovies, chopped, or 1 tbsp (15 ml) fish sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (optional), cut into short lengths
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) finely chopped celery
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped parsley
  • ½ tsp ( 2 ml) black pepper
  • 1 can (14 oz [400 ml]) coconut milk
  • ¼ tsp (1 ml) salt
  • 1 package (16 oz [450 g]) thin rice vermicelli
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 green onions, cut into short lengths
  • 2 to 4 finger chilies, cut into short lengths
  • 24 mussels or small clams
  • 12 to 18 shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 8 oz (250 g) fish fillet, cut into 4 pieces


In a saucepan, heat 1 tbsp (15 ml) of the oil over medium-high heat; cook shallots until golden. Stir in garlic; cook until golden. Stir in chilies and ginger; cook until softened. Stir in anchovies (if using), bay leaves, lemon grass (if using), celery, parsley and pepper; cook, stirring, until fragrant. Stir in coconut milk, salt and fish sauce (if using); bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook 2 minutes. Set aside.

Divide rice vermicelli into 4 equal portions. In a deep saucepan or wok, heat remaining oil to 350° F (180° C); cook 1 portion of noodles until they swell to about three times the sizeand turn crispy, turning once. With a strainer, remove noodles from wok; drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining noodles. Remove all but 2 tbsp (25 ml) of the oil from the wok; cook garlic until golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towel.

Bring coconut sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in green onion, chilies, mussels, shrimp and fish. Vary the mix of seafood according to taste and availability. Cover and cook until shellfish opens and fish is cooked through. Put one portion of noodles on each of 4 plates; spoon seafood coconut sauce over top. Serve garnished with fried garlic. The sauce can be made well ahead of time, as can the frying of the noodles, so the final cooking time is usually quite short.


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