Fish Bee Hoon Soup is one of my favourite comfort foods. The key lies in the soup, and the traditional way of making it is to use fish bones – the bones are first coated in cornflour then pan-fried until crispy. Boiling water (the key to a milky-coloured soup) is then added into the fish bones together with other aromatics like ginger and simmered for a few hours to create a milky-coloured and delicious soup. But pan-frying fish can be a messy and oily business, so I found another way to create a soup base that is still flavourful, delicious and full of umami-ness.
For my version of Fish Bee Hoon Soup, I use dried anchovies (ikan bilis), onion, ginger and dried shiitake mushrooms to create the fish stock. Just these four ingredients create a deliciously clean-tasting and umami-rich soup. After straining the stock to get rid of the onion and anchovies, the fish stock can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a day, potentially making the dish easier and faster to prepare the next day. The soup’s flavour is then further enhanced with tomato, carrot and cabbage (pantry essentials!) which add extra sweetness (the tomato also add umami-ness) to the soup.
For the fish, my mom would have used only fresh fish fillet from the wet market but I unfortunately don’t have the luxury to get them that fresh, so I settled for frozen fish fillet, which surprising worked well as well.
Bee Hoon, also known as Rice Vermicelli, is a type of thin rice noodle that are usually sold dried. It’s better to cook the dried Bee Hoon separately as they can absorb a large amount of water – and you may end up with no soup in the end! Bee Hoon is also one of my favourite noodles – but sadly I only have one more recipe of it. I guess it’s time to explore more Bee Hoon recipes!
So, while this Fish Bee Hoon Soup is not the traditional kind that I have in Singapore, X and I still love how the soup turned out – it’s sweet yet savoury at the same time. And knowing that there aren’t any weird additives or MSG in it, we slurped up the whole bowl in no time – the perfect meal for a rainy or cold day!
|1) Heat a 1.5-litre pot over medium heat. Add in oil, ikan bilis, onion and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes. (I forgot the ginger here so I added it later!)||2) Add in water and fish sauce.|
|3) Add in dried shiitake mushrooms. Simmer for 30 minutes to extract the flavours.||4) Strain the stock over a sieve into a clean 2-litre pot.|
|5) Pick out the shiitake mushrooms - remove the stalks and cut into thin slices.||6) Cut up the vegetables.|
|7) Bring the pot of stock back to a simmer and add in tomato, carrot, cabbage and salted mustard green leaves.||8) Slice fish into 1-cm thick pieces. Marinate with light soy sauce, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine and white pepper for at least 15 minutes in the refrigerator, up to 2 hours in advance.|
|9) Boil the rice vermicelli until softened - you can boil it directly in the soup if you are cooking only 1/2 portion of the rice vermicelli. Otherwise, boil the rice vermicelli separately.||10) Add in the fish and cook until it's opaque. Add in evaporated milk and adjust for seasoning.|
- 1 tablespoon oil
- ⅓ cup ikan bilis, rinsed briefly and drained
- 1 medium onion, peeled and roughly diced
- 2 thumbs ginger, peeled and sliced
- 2 large dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed briefly and drained
- 1 litre water (4 cups)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tomato, quartered
- ½ carrot, peeled and sliced
- 2 cabbage leaves (both round and Napa cabbage works here), cut into 1-cm thick chunks
- 1 to 2 salted mustard green leaves, soaked in water for 15 minutes, then drained and cut into 1-cm thick chunks (optional)
- 100 grams silken tofu, cut into cubes
- 150 grams firm white fish fillet (halibut, cod, red snapper, tilapia etc)
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon sesame oil
- ½ tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- Dash of white pepper
- 120 grams rice vermicelli (bee hoon)
- Light soy sauce, salt and white pepper for seasoning
- 2 tablespoons evaporated milk (optional)
- Fried shallots
- Freshly chopped coriander and spring onion
- Heat a 1.5-litre pot over medium heat. Add in oil, ikan bilis, onion and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add in dried shiitake mushrooms, water and fish sauce. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and turn the heat down to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the stock over a sieve into a clean 2-litre pot. Pick out the ginger and shiitake mushrooms and discard the rest of the strained ingredients.
- Remove the stalks of the shiitake mushrooms and slice the mushroom caps into slices. Add the sliced shiitake mushrooms and the ginger slices back into the pot of stock.
- Bring the pot of stock back to a simmer and add in tomato, carrot, cabbage and salted mustard green leaves (if using). Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Add in tofu and simmer gently until heated through.
- While the soup is simmering, slice fish into 1-cm thick pieces. Marinate with light soy sauce, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine and white pepper for at least 15 minutes in the refrigerator, up to 2 hours in advance.
- Boil the rice vermicelli in plenty of boiling water until softened. Drain well and divide between two large serving bowls.
- Bring the soup to a boil, then add in the marinated fish slices. Cook until the fish slices turned opaque and are cooked through. Taste the soup and adjust the taste with light soy sauce, salt and/or white pepper. Add in evaporated milk (if using).
- Ladle the soup, fish and vegetables into the bowls of rice vermicelli. Garnish with fried shallots, coriander and spring onion and serve immediately.
- If you don't like rice vermicelli, you can simply serve it with a bowl of rice.
- If you are cooking only ½ portion of rice vermicelli, you can cook it directly in the soup before adding in the fish slices. It is not advisable to cook the vermicelli in the soup as they will absorb a lot of soup and you may not have enough soup to serve later on.