Fried Bee Hoon - a 101 recipe (rice vermicelli)

Monday, September 08, 2014

Bee Hoon is a "stand by me" friend which every Chinese home cook should get familiar with.

Like pasta for Italians, it is a staple which is useful for different occasions and can be cooked in many ways.

Here in Singapore, it seems you you can find fried bee hoon everywhere: wakes & funerals, parties, catered buffets spreads and hawker stalls. I must have eaten a lot of bee hoon growing up, second only to rice. It actually is made from rice and that may explain it’s staple appeal to Asians.

It is easily available in most global world cities. Dehydrated like pasta, it can keep for months in your larder. Quick and easy to cook, it is also a favourite party dish as it can be served as a stand-alone dish, vegetarian one or to accompany another meat dish. It can be served at room temperature. Unless it is a soup recipe, it will still taste good if you serve it many hours after it is cooked.

er..a packet of
Tai Sun Bee Hoon
Not to be confuse with cellophane noodles (toong fun), most Asian supermarts will sell different varieties which you can choose from. You need to soak them in water to rehydrate them, for about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the it's thickness. After that, you can choose to fry it, mixed it in some sauces (e.g. Mee Siam) or add to soups.

Like pasta, it can go a thousand direction and it is up to you. Unlike pasta, it absorbs liquid and flavours well. This open many possibilities of cooking it and indeed there are countless good and established Bee Hoon recipes. And of course, we all know the Nonya’s version of Mee Siam very well.

I will start with a very basic 101 "Economic Bee Hoon“ recipe and in future posts, share with you other ways of cooking it.

Dehydrating the Bee Hoon
Half a packet of Bee Hoon (1  pack can serve about 10 pax)

In a pot of tap water, soak the bee hoon for 20 minutes. Remove the Bee Hoon and put it in a strainer for the water to drip away. How long you should soak the Bee Hoon and whether you should use warm water depends on how you are planning to cook it. Some versions of Bee Hoon are also thicker and that will need longer soaking. Soaking it makes it easier for handling. My favourite Bee Hoon is the Thai variety, which is finer and firmer.

Ingredients1 Tablespoon Chopped garlic
200 gm beans sprout
1 tablespoon dark sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 cup water (200 ml)
2 Tablespoon oil (or lard)

  1. Heat up a wok and add the oil. 
  2. Add the garlic and fry for about half a minute. 
  3. Add the bee hoon. Use your hands and separate the it as you add so that the noodles are not entangled. 
  4. Add the sauces, water and stir. 
  5. After 5 minutes, move the Bee Hoon aside in the wok and add the bean sprouts. Do a quick fry an dmix together. 
  6. Test the texture of the bee hoon. In about 10 minutes, it should be done. From experience, you can often tell how cooked it is just by lifting some of the noodles using a chopstick and observe how they drape over. Make sure it is not too soft. 
Garnish with coriander leaves, fried shallots and sprinkle some white pepper. Serve some sambal or chilli sauce on the side. It can be served immediately or at room temperature later.

Just get this right and as you can see, there are just so many different ways of flavouring the noodles. There is the vegetarian recipe involving julienned veg (Chinese yellow chives, carrots, cabbage etc), adding chicken stock will take in another direction, there is the Mee Siam way (dry or wet) or as in the pic above, adding diced torch ginger (bunga kantan) in the Thai/Malay direction or the Cantonese way of braising it in meat sauce. Endless recipes to work on!

I like "economic bee hoon” for breakfast and actually, just about any meal of the day. Start with a simple recipe first and you will realise how easy it is to make this. It is also a simple "one-pot” meal which you can make healthily, by adding more veg etc.

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  1. Singapore expat living in NYC. Really appreciate the lifeline. Tried your recipe the other day and was instantly transported back to the kopi tiam that I would stop by everyday and fuel up en route to school.

  2. How do I avoid my beehoon become wet next day?