Some Comforting Notes on Fish Soup Noodles

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Note: I am sorry. I forgot to take any photos. I will post one when I next cook this. Hope this stand-in will suffice!
My wife love fish soup noodles.

Regarded as a healthy and light meal, it is a lunchtime favourite for office workers. And with the recent rainy weather, to be greeted by homemade fish soup after work a cold day is comforting indeed.

This recipe can be prepared simply if you wish. The fish is filleted and the rest of the carcass go into the soup. If you have time, you can add steps or ingredients to elevate it.

At the heart of it is of course the fish carcass. This is very similar to Assam Laksa, which is based on those from Ikan Kembung. In our wet markets, carcasses from a good fish like grouper are cheap. They are basically leftovers from the fillets of fish meat that have been removed. Just ask your regular fish monger for advice. I paid for $10 worth of carcasses to feed 20 people. Another way is to buy the whole fish and ask for it to be filleted. There will be true head to toe (fin!) eating.

The fish bones and heads should be deep fried first to reduce the fishiness of the soup, before going into the boil.

Adding pork bones may be optional but it does add some body to the soup. I don't find the fish carcass alone to be sufficient for a tasty soup. Adding pork bones or ikan bilis (anchovies) helps. Chicken stock or anchovies seasoning are also possible. I should add that adding dried sole powder will elevate the flavour of the soup but I won't bother if I don't have it in my larder.

Fish stock is quick to make as the flavours are extracted quicker then meat-based soups. This is a good point to note as you plan your stock making.

As for garnishing, there are many choices. Red grouper meat will be a top choice but it is expensive. Brown grouper will be cheaper. In fact, any white meat fish like snapper or snakehead will be fine as well. Some may enjoy eating fish head pieces. Ask your fish monger to chop the heads into pieces for you. Coat lightly with some flour and deep fry beforehand. Tomatoes, coriander leaves, silken tofu fried shallots, salted veg, sliced red chillies can be added to balance the bowl of fish soup. Fried ikan bilis for the crunch and  "encapsulated" flavour will go well with it too. Likewise, blanched prawns, with shells on as it will add some colour.

Carnation milk, which is basically cream can be added. Likewise, lardon and  oil. But these will add calories to the bowl.

As for noodles, the thick rice noodles or the thinner bee hoon (rice vermicelli) will go well. Some will like to add yellow wheat noodles or quay teow (flat rice noodles) and that is fine as well. And of course, fish soup go well with rice.

Once you are comfortable with making this seafood based soup, you can serve it in many ways.


1.5 kg of fish carcass, chopped into pieces
1 kg of pork bones
100gm of ikan bills

500 gm of fish fillet, sliced for serving
400 gm of Napa cabbage, sliced
4 tomatoes, sliced into small cubes
Coriander leaves and fried shallots for garnishing

2 kg of thick rice noodles

Preparing the Soup
Simmer the pork bones for an hour and a half in 5 laters of water. At the hour mark, add the fish bones and ikan bilis. Strain and season (with salt or soy sauce) the soup.

Blanch the fish slices  in the soup. till the meat is opaque.

Serving the bowls
When you are ready to serve, boil the soup and add the tomato and cabbage. After 3 minutes, add the rice noodles for. minute and dish out into a bowl. Garnish with coriander leaves and fried shallots. Serve immediately.

Cut red chillies in light soy sauce is a perfect accompaniment.

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