Malay-Style Rice Noodle Soup (Bihun Sup)


I grew up in Malaysia, where I enjoyed cooking and eating local dishes every day.

The warm broth from the soup is perfect to combat the cold weather outside. I made this for dinner this week, and it was delicious!

The warm broth from the soup is perfect to combat the cold weather outside. I made this for dinner this week, and it was delicious!

My Father's Recipe

I often say my mother is my culinary mentor. She has certainly had a significant influence on my cooking techniques and knowledge, especially when it comes to Malay cuisine. However, I'm delighted to say that my father is also a genuinely good cook. He taught me many recipes that I enjoy preparing to this day. One of the recipes that I learned from him is Malay-style rice noodle soup.

The Ingredients

Generally, Malay-style rice noodle soup consists of rice noodles, broth (which can be chicken, beef, or vegetarian), and spices. This recipe is one of the easiest dishes I learned from my father. The distinctive flavor of the broth comes from the spices: shallots, ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, star anise, and cloves.

I often make a chicken broth for this soup because my husband loves it. If you are a vegetarian, simply omit the meat and use vegetarian broth. You can substitute potatoes, carrots, and any variety of vegetables you like.

The Perfect Broth to Combat the Cold

Everybody knows that soup is perfect for the winter season. Yesterday, when my husband came home from work, he couldn't contain his excitement when he learned I had prepared one of his favorite winter soups. To make it extra special, I also prepared spicy soy sauce (sambal kicap), which is a condiment for the broth that brings out its spicy flavor. (I had prepared the sambal kicap ahead of time. I had put it in a container and kept it in the fridge until the noodles were ready to be served.)

Save the leftover broth and noodles separately in containers and put them in the fridge. Enjoy the leftovers the next day for lunch at work or home.

Let's take a look at the ingredients.


For the broth:

  • 1 pound chicken breast (cut into small pieces)
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled, cut into cubes, and boiled
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube (optional)
  • 2 star anises
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 green cardamom pods, smashed a little to cut them open
  • 3 shallots, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 inches ginger, sliced
  • Salt to taste
  • 5-6 cups water (add more if you want more broth)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For serving and garnish:

  • 3 layers (250 grams) rice vermicelli noodles
  • Mustard green, sliced and steamed
  • Fried shallots
  • Parsley or cilantro, chopped

For the sambal kicap:

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 5-6 Thai bird eye chilies
  • 1/2 cup sweet soy sauce


  1. In a large bowl, soak the rice noodles with warm water until soft. Strain the water and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat.
  3. Throw in the ginger, garlic, shallots, cloves, star anise, cardamom, and cinnamon stick. Saute until it becomes fragrant.
  4. Add the water slowly into the pot.
  5. Add the chicken bouillon cube into the pot and stir until it's dissolved.
  6. Throw in the potatoes. Stir occasionally.
  7. Throw in the chicken parts into the broth.
  8. Cover with a lid and let it simmer over a lower heat. Let the chicken cook thoroughly in the broth.
  9. Add the salt and don't forget to taste.
  10. Turn the heat off. Set aside.
  11. Make the sambal kicap: In a blender, combine the garlic, chilies, and sweet soy sauce. Blend until it makes a paste. Set aside.
  12. In a serving bowl, assemble the rice noodles and steamed mustard green.
  13. Use a ladle to pour soup over the noodles.
  14. Garnish with the fried shallots, cilantro, and a spoonful of sambal kicap on top.
  15. Serve immediately!

© 2020 Liza


Liza (author) from USA on March 15, 2020:

You're welcome, Paul. Thailand is a neighboring country to Malaysia so, I'm not surprised :) Rice noodles are always on my list to cook for dinner. By the way, I hope you will enjoy the recipe!

Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on March 15, 2020:

In Thailand, I like to eat rice noodle soups. Your recipe is especially appealing and I will give it to my Thai wife who also likes soups. Thanks for sharing a great recipe.

Liza (author) from USA on March 12, 2020:

Hi Tery, thanks for your appreciation of the recipe. This recipe is one of my family favorites. We never missed making it whenever we crave something warm and delicious. I hope you will enjoy it too!

Tory Peta on March 12, 2020:

Your recipe is great and delicious! Now I need to try it on my own. Thank you very much.

Liza (author) from USA on March 03, 2020:

Sounds identical. Bihon and Bihun. It is one of m favorites too, Jehan. Thanks for commenting and I hope you will try this recipe!

Jehan Forro on March 03, 2020:

Oooohhh we call that Bihon soup. One of my absolute favorites! There's nothing like a hot bowl of bihon soup to warm your stomach on a cold rainy day. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Will try cooking this for my kids.

Liza (author) from USA on January 18, 2020:

@Prantika I hope you'll have a great time trying this recipe. Next, I will do the vegetarian version. All I have to do is to omit the meat in the ingredients. I plan to refrigerate it in the freezer and have it whenever I want :) By the way, do let me know how it turns out for you. Have a lovely weekend!

Prantika Samanta from Kolkata, India on January 18, 2020:

Thank you so much. I will follow your suggestion and I am pretty sure my family is going to love it.

Liza (author) from USA on January 17, 2020:

Awesome! I look forward to hearing how it's turn out for you, Dale. Best of luck!

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on January 17, 2020:

Oh yeah, this is going on the menu for sure! Thanks for sharing it with us. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Liza (author) from USA on January 16, 2020:

@Prantika, the soup was delicious. Try to make the broth in a large batch and save the leftover. Have it the next day. It was the best! I agree this type of soup is perfect for winter. I can have soup during the day while watching TV or reading a book. By the way, I trust you will make an excellent one for you and your family, Prantika :)

Liza (author) from USA on January 16, 2020:

Indeed. My husband and I love having soup the next day because the spices and the chicken were infused deeply into the broth. Thank you for enlightening comment, Linda.

Prantika Samanta from Kolkata, India on January 15, 2020:

The soup looks so enticing and I'm going to try this at home. We are enjoying winter here in India and this is the right time to make the soup and enjoy with the family. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on January 15, 2020:

This soup sounds very tasty. I love reading your recipe articles because they always contain new facts or ideas for me. The photo guide is a great addition to the articles.

Liza (author) from USA on January 15, 2020:

Absolutely! By the way, the secret of my chicken broth is it even getting better the next day! Thank you for commenting, Liz.

Liz Westwood from UK on January 15, 2020:

This is a great winter warmer. I appreciate your clear instructions and illustrations.

Liza (author) from USA on January 15, 2020:

That's awesome! Though I have moved to a different country thus far away from finding Malay or Malaysian cuisine in the area where I live. Cooking at home is the best way to fulfill my Malaysian palate :) Thank you for your comment, MG Singh.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on January 15, 2020:

Nice article. I do like Malay food, its quite similar to Chinese.

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