A familiar scene comes to mind every time I eat fish noodle soup – my family sitting around the old marble dining table, happily relishing our fried fish and noodles. These were served in large traditional Chinese vessels specially reserved for fish noodles, decorated with ornate blue trimmings and a large blue koi fish painted on the side. Condiments would be laid out on the table: freshly chopped parsley, ginger wine, cut chili padi in fish sauce, thinly sliced fried fish and white ground pepper. I still fondly remember the aromas pleasantly wafting through the entire house. This scene is neither dramatic, nor soul-stirring, but it is memorable and significant because it is simple and represents happiness, comfort and bliss.
My mum has tweaked this recipe over the years to suit my family’s preferences, so feel free to adjust the flavours/ cooking method according to your own preferences!
- We use the pressure cooker to do most of our cooking, but this recipe works perfectly fine on the stove as well. The only difference is that you would have to simmer the soup base for 3 hrs or more instead of 1 hr in the pressure cooker
- To make an extra tasty pot of soup, you can deep fry instead of shallow fry the fish bones till golden brown
- Our family typically eats this dish with fried fish slices, but you can opt to boil the fish slices in the fish soup before serving as well!
Fish Noodle Soup
For the fried fish slices:
500g fresh snakehead fish (sliced, washed and dried with kitchen towel)
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbs cornflour
4 tbs cooking oil
For the fish soup base:
4 tbsp cooking oil
500g fresh snakehead fish bones (washed and dried with kitchen towel)
4 cloves garlic (de-skinned and cut into half)
1 pc red onion (cut into 4 pcs)
3 cm length ginger (sliced)
4 pcs spring onions (white part only)
3 pcs coriander roots (cleaned)
80g soya beans (soaked)
1.5 litre water
For the soup seasoning (adjust to taste):
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
8 tbsp full cream evaporated milk
1/4 tsp white pepper
Some ginger wine [optional]
For the garnish/ noodles:
600g fresh thick bee hoon
3 stalks of Chinese lettuce
1pc tomato (cut into 8 slices) [optional]
Some coriander leaves
2 to 3 pcs chilli padi (sliced)
1 part soya sauce : 1 part fish sauce
Marinate the fish slices with salt and keep in the fridge as you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Meanwhile, prepare the fish soup base. Begin by heating cooking oil in the pot, add fish bones to fry until slightly brown, remove and set aside. Add aromatics – garlic, onion, ginger, spring onions and coriander roots and fry till fragrant. Return fish bones into the pot and add soaked soya beans and water. Pressure cook for 1 hr under “Chicken” mode or simmer over the stove for 3 or more hours. Once the soup is ready, pour it over a sieve into another pot and discard ingredients in the sieve. Bring the soup to a boil and add all the seasoning except for ginger wine. Blanch the Chinese lettuce and thick beehoon, and set aside.
After the fish soup is ready, remove fish slices from the fridge and coat each slice with a thin layer of cornflour. Dust off any excess flour. Heat oil in the pan and fry until golden brown (10mins at 190 degrees, flipping the fish at the 5min mark).
To serve, divide the thick beehoon, chinese lettuce, tomato, coriander leaves and fish slices into 4 portions. Using a noodle ladle, dip the beehoon into soup several times before placing it into a serving bowl. Top the bowl of beehoon with fish slices, tomato, chinese lettuce and coriander leaves. Scoop the hot soup over the bowls of beehoon. Add some ginger wine and white pepper to get the extra ‘oomph. Mix the chillies with the soy sauce and fish sauce and serve with the fish noodle soup.