A few weeks ago, my sister Zee who lives in Australia texted the family members over a celebratory dinner she had with her good friend. It was soupy noodles with crispy fried fish head.
I’ve been dreaming about the dish ever since she texted. Nothing seemed more comforting then a hot bowl of soup with noodles and something crispy to munch on the side.
I had been reluctant to make noodle soup in general since Mr. E is a carb and protein monster. My husband is very slim for his build and no one would guess that I tend to portion out for two people whenever he eats. Noodle soup? A relatively light fare? He would usually be so hungry later and be miserable.
But as luck would have it, we had a massive lunch and soupy noodles were in order. Plus I had a bag of cubed red snapper that was supposed to be a fillet had my fishmonger not assumed that “Aww, this poor little woman can’t possibly be trying to fillet the fish on her own, I know! I’ll be helpful by cutting up the fish in the way SHE DID NOT WANT.”
One of my closest friends SW loves soupy noodles, her idea of comfort food is a bowl of clear broth with noodles. I can see why. When I have a cold, nothing beats clear Asian style broth, with warm spices and rice noodles for me.
What I love about this soup was how easy it was to put it together. I already fish stock in the freezer from my last Market escapade and so it was a matter of letting it simmer while I made the little fish nuggets. I coated my little fish cubes in cornstarch but you don’t have to do that. I wanted a crispy texture to counter the soft noodles.
The soup has some acid but it is not intended to be sour. The idea is a balanced dish that complements the crispy fish. I served it with some homemade pickled chilli that floored Mr. E.
‘Why didn’t you tell me it was so hot?’ he asked in between gulping water.
Honestly, I did not know it was hot. I don’t eat spicy stuff in general since well, I’m weak. The same friend who loves her soupy noodles used to mock me for my inability to eat spicy food. ‘You bring shame on your Malay brethren,’ she would say.
‘Yeah, but you don’t eat mushrooms.’
It’s true. She does not. That’s why we hang out. We bring shame on our respective ethnic groups.
But I digress. It would be excellent to serve a bowl of fish broth with crispy fish with some pickled chilli or sriracha. Or it would be great as is.
500ml fish stock
1 inch ginger – sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic – sliced thinly
2 tsp pickled choy sums – optional
1 tomato quartered
A handful of fresh baby bok choi, trimmed
Shitake mushrooms – optional since I forgot to put them in
450g rice noodles – traditionally vermicelli but I felt like kuey teow instead.
300g fish fillet cut into cubes
1 egg – beaten
Salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch for breading
Oil for deep frying
2 stalks of spring onions – chopped
Pickled chilli – optional
- Saute the garlic and ginger until fragrant. Add the fish stock, tomato, peppercorns and seasoning before leaving to simmer for 15 minutes, covered.
- About 5 minutes before serving, throw in the baby bok choi. Check for seasonings right before serving.
- For the fish, set up a dredging station of two bowls – one for the egg watch, one for the breading. Season the fish cubes with salt and pepper before doing an egg wash and then coating the fish with breadcrumbs. Deep fry on medium heat until golden.
- The noodles, rinse them in cold water to separate them. I don’t bother to rinse with hot water, I find they get very mushy if they do. Portion out to about four bowls (or two, if you’re greedy).
- To serve, spoon the broth on the noodles, sprinkle with spring onions. Serve with the crispy fried fish on the side.