Malay-Style Rice Noodle Soup (Bihun Sup)

Updated on January 15, 2020
lizmalay profile image

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.

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

Directions

  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!

Photo Guide

Click thumbnail to view full-size
In a large bowl, soak the rice noodles with warm water until soft.Strain the water and set the rice noodles aside. Saute the spices in a large pot with some oil over medium heat. Add the water slowly into the pot. Add the chicken bouillon cube into the pot and stir until it's dissolved.Add the boiled potatoes into the broth. Add the chicken into the broth. Cover the lid. Let it simmer over medium heat. The broth is cooked. Turn the heat off. Set aside. In a serving bowl, assemble the rice noodles and mustard green. Pour the broth on top. I like a lot of broth over the noodles. Garnish with chopped cilantro, fried shallots, and sambal kicap. Serve immediately! Bihun sup is best enjoyed while it's warm.
In a large bowl, soak the rice noodles with warm water until soft.
In a large bowl, soak the rice noodles with warm water until soft.
Strain the water and set the rice noodles aside.
Strain the water and set the rice noodles aside.
Saute the spices in a large pot with some oil over medium heat.
Saute the spices in a large pot with some oil over medium heat.
Add the water slowly into the pot.
Add the water slowly into the pot.
Add the chicken bouillon cube into the pot and stir until it's dissolved.
Add the chicken bouillon cube into the pot and stir until it's dissolved.
Add the boiled potatoes into the broth.
Add the boiled potatoes into the broth.
Add the chicken into the broth.
Add the chicken into the broth.
Cover the lid. Let it simmer over medium heat.
Cover the lid. Let it simmer over medium heat.
The broth is cooked. Turn the heat off. Set aside.
The broth is cooked. Turn the heat off. Set aside.
In a serving bowl, assemble the rice noodles and mustard green. Pour the broth on top. I like a lot of broth over the noodles.
In a serving bowl, assemble the rice noodles and mustard green. Pour the broth on top. I like a lot of broth over the noodles.
Garnish with chopped cilantro, fried shallots, and sambal kicap.
Garnish with chopped cilantro, fried shallots, and sambal kicap.
Serve immediately! Bihun sup is best enjoyed while it's warm.
Serve immediately! Bihun sup is best enjoyed while it's warm.

Questions & Answers

    © 2020 Liza

    Comments

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      • lizmalay profile imageAUTHOR

        Liza 

        4 weeks ago from USA

        @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 profile image

        Prantika Samanta 

        4 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

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

      • lizmalay profile imageAUTHOR

        Liza 

        4 weeks ago from USA

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

      • GetitScene profile image

        Dale Anderson 

        4 weeks ago from The High Seas

        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.

      • lizmalay profile imageAUTHOR

        Liza 

        4 weeks ago from USA

        @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 :)

      • lizmalay profile imageAUTHOR

        Liza 

        4 weeks ago from USA

        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 profile image

        Prantika Samanta 

        5 weeks ago from Kolkata, India

        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.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        5 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        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.

      • lizmalay profile imageAUTHOR

        Liza 

        5 weeks ago from USA

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

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        5 weeks ago from UK

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

      • lizmalay profile imageAUTHOR

        Liza 

        5 weeks ago from USA

        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.

      • emge profile image

        MG Singh 

        5 weeks ago from Singapore

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

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