Malay-Style Rice Noodle Soup (Bihun Sup)
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.
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
- In a large bowl, soak the rice noodles with warm water until soft. Strain the water and set aside.
- In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat.
- Throw in the ginger, garlic, shallots, cloves, star anise, cardamom, and cinnamon stick. Saute until it becomes fragrant.
- Add the water slowly into the pot.
- Add the chicken bouillon cube into the pot and stir until it's dissolved.
- Throw in the potatoes. Stir occasionally.
- Throw in the chicken parts into the broth.
- Cover with a lid and let it simmer over a lower heat. Let the chicken cook thoroughly in the broth.
- Add the salt and don't forget to taste.
- Turn the heat off. Set aside.
- Make the sambal kicap: In a blender, combine the garlic, chilies, and sweet soy sauce. Blend until it makes a paste. Set aside.
- In a serving bowl, assemble the rice noodles and steamed mustard green.
- Use a ladle to pour soup over the noodles.
- Garnish with the fried shallots, cilantro, and a spoonful of sambal kicap on top.
- Serve immediately!
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© 2020 Liza