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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fish Head Bee Hoon - 鱼头米粉

Fish Head BH 5

Fish Head BH 3

I cooked Fish Head Bee Hoon for dinner today. It tasted so good that I am beginning to believe that I can actually cook....

Food bloggers like us - we cook at home, we have cookbooks, we watch cooking programs and we attend cooking classes - everyone of us, I suppose, fancy ourselves as a bit of a cook. When we see our own cooking captured on film, it brings us a little closer to the wishful notion that we could perhaps be more than 'a bit of a cook'.... and do I even need to mention that we, food bloggers, have mastered the ethereal art of eating with our eyes?  I remember when I told my friends how we would visit each others' blogs leaving comments on the food - they had asked me, quite matter of factly, ' but they have not tasted your food, how do they comment on your food? '  To that, I replied sagely : we eat with our eyes.

Indeed, perhaps, one of these days, when we do get to taste each others' fare, we could be grossly disappointed and disillusioned but what is also true is that our knowledge of food has become more astute, we have become more aware and informed about the different tastes, ingredients and preparation of food - leading to higher expectation and appreciation of what would perhaps be just lunch or dinner.

When I had told L that I made this for dinner tonight and quite ignorantly asked if they have Fish Head Bee Hoon in KL, he had replied with an almost audible snort, ' of course we do, where do you think Singaporeans copy from? '. Absolutely futile to talk to him about food commonalities between Malaysia and Singapore.

I used the recipe from local celebrity chef, Sam Leong's 'A Taste Of Home'. Sam Leong, who hails from KL (eyes rolling)  is the Corporate Chef and Director of Kitchens for the Tung Lok Group, which own more than 20 world-class restaurants in Singapore, Indonesia, China, Japan and India. 'A Taste Of Home' is his third cookbook and is less stylistic and less intimidating than the first 2 books. The dishes featured in this book are very homely and unpretentious - totally relevant for home cooking for family and friends.
I don't suppose this is the best Fish Head Bee Hoon recipe as it does not really calls for fish bone stock but I had found a total of 3 different recipes, and all of them were using normal chicken stock. I suppose for home preparation, this would be easier to work with - it doesn't quite require one to tackle the possible fishy smell of the stock. What I have done a little differently, is to boil the stock with dried anchovies and impart some flavour of the sea to it.

Fish Head BH 1

Fish Head BH 6

I had bought a mixture of  fish (with bones) and fish fillet from the market. The fish I bought was Shengyu, also commonly known as Snakehead fish - not cheap. The $4 portion will probably only be good for 2 servings... sometimes, you wonder, what is the point of cooking it by yourself. I probably can get it cheaper at the hawker stall or the food court. These are seasoned with a little salt and deep fried until golden yellow.

I like my soup base with lots of pepper, a discernible hint of Chinese rice wine and the refreshing tang of the fresh tomatoes - all served with the ferocious cut chilli padi. I definitely will be making this again and I hope you will get to try it too.... it may also make you feel like more than a bit of a cook ;).

Fish Head BH 6(100)

Recipe (from Sam Leong's A Taste Of Home)

Fresh thick rice vermecilli (Bee Hoon)           400g
Cooking oil for deep frying
Snake head fish, chopped into pieces            200g
Pickled Mustard Cabbage (Harm Choy)       200g (cut into strips)
Ginger                                                          5 pieces
Spring onion                                                 2 cut into short lengths
Tomatoes                                                     2 cut into wedges
Lettuce                                                        A few leaves

Chicken stock                                             800ml
Salt                                                            1/2 tsp
Sugar                                                         1/2 tsp
Salted plum                                                1 (I omitted this.)
Ground white pepper                                  Dash
Chinese cooking wine                                 Dash
Sesame Oil                                                 Dash
Evaporated milk                                          3 tbsp

1. Bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch Bee Hoon until soft. Drain and set aside and divided into large serving bowls.
2. Heat oil for deep-frying over high heat. Season fish with a little salt. Deep fry until golden brown. Drain and set aside.
3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok and add ingredients for stock,except milk.Bring it to the boil, then add fish, pickled mustard cabbage, ginger, spring onions , tomatoes and milk.
4. Allow stock to return to the boil, then ladle into bowl over noodles.  Garnish with lettuce and serve immediately with red chillies.

1. Bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch Bee Hoon until soft. Drain and set aside and divided into large serving bowls.

2. Heat oil for deep-frying over high heat. Season fish with a little salt. Deep fry until golden brown. Drain and set aside.

3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok and add ingredients for stock,except milk.Bring it to the boil, then add fish, pickled mustard cabbage, ginger, spring onions , tomatoes and milk.

4. Allow stock to return to the boil, then ladle into bowl over noodles. Garnish with lettuce and serve immediately with red chillies.


Pei-Lin said...

Shirley, this is one of my faves growing up! But then, the 魚頭米 I'm used to looks white and thus, tastes milkier with more evaporated milk added. I'm serious! OK, have bookmarked this. But, I'll tweak it to suit my liking. LOL! I still like mine on the whitish side and tastes milkier. I guess here's where cultural differences come in.

On the fish stock, do you think adding slabs of ginger to boil along will reduce the fishy smell? I like your idea of boiling the chicken stock with anchovies.

But then, between Malaysians and Singaporeans, not so much I guess. So, L is originally a KL-ite? LOL!

It's amazed me that we can eat visually, without getting hungry. Seriously, it's like we're immune from all those temptations. Be prepared, you may puke at the sight of my food soon ... LOL!

Zurin said...

Hm first time ive heard of fsih head bee hoon..even if m malaysian. just shows how much I it sounds, and 'looks' good. n m sure it taste fantastic!

Pei-Lin said...

Ha ... Now that I've jotted down the recipe, I noticed there's ginger for the stock. The fishy smell should be minimal by then, right? Or you can serve the whole deal with cilantro too to lessen that fishy smell? I've had mine with cilantro before.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Pei Lin, yes, some places here serve it very milky white too. I was actually quite suprised that the recipe had asked for so little milk. By all means, please do try to tweak it. I most likely will cook it again very soon. I still have enough stock to make another portion :) - lucky!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Shirley, this reminds me of my mum's fish head soup! Ahhh so lovely, thankyou for transporting me there! :D

Quinn said...

Shirley, my grandma says rub the wok with ginger generously and then pour the oil in and deep fry the fish. Your fish will smell wonderfully good and not fishy. Grandma also says do not omit the salted plum!!!! She cooks a lot of this at home, all the ingredients listed just like in this recipe,albeit hers having a whole can of evaporated milk in it!

I say, double or even quadruple the evaporated milk please!!!Because I am a dairy freak and because what I've always ate in KL looks milky white, just like what Pei Lin says.

Great looking dish all together Shirley! Great job!!!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Quinn, great tip! Actually I have no problem with the fried fish - no fishy smell. But I am definitely going to do this again with the plum and more milk. Say, do you know if your grandma make the stock with fish bones? or did she use chicken stock?

WendyinKK said...

I love this... Once me and my friend just ordered one, without noodles. Hahaha, and drank the soup and ate all the stuff.

thecoffeesnob said...

Just looking at your delish bowl of fish soup makes me feel all warm and toasty on this chilly, rainy day.

Anyway I never knew there were plums involved in the making of this dish. Can barely taste it in the ones I've had!

Angie's Recipes said...

Looks very delicious! I am sure I had bee hoon soup with fish head before...but I love snake fish head with tofu in a claypot. :-))

Luciana said...

Congratulations it's good and tasty...a kiss, Luciana

Jo said...

Shirley, this looks good and I prefer fried fish for this dish as compared with sliced fish. BTW I know exactly what you mean about us food bloggers and do you know that my dad actually asked the same question as your friends. I too gave him the same answer as you did. How funny is this!

ann low said...

This is all time favorite and I also love Sam Leong's straight forward recipe.
FYI Sam Leong already left the Tung Lok Group. He and his wife are going to open a Culinary Studio soon.

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

Yes, Anncoo, I read about that - quite suprised really...but I will be looking out for his new Culinary Studio - both his and Forest's classes are very enjoyable to attend :)

tigerfish said...

I actually hate the frying part but I adore Fish Head/Slice Bee Hoon! Yum yum!

Beau Lotus 涟 said...

My mum loves this dish! And yours look really good.

Anonymous said...

Fish head noodles is one of my favourite dishes. I prefer eating fillet pieces coz less fish bones to deal with.

mycookinghut said...

This is what I really miss .... need to make it at home now that I can't get it in London..

Anonymous said...

I also like fish fillet to head. Cassian Kitchen Cafe at Subang Jaya SS15 really nice. Must try.
everything can find there.


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