Bihun Sup (Rice Vermicelli in Beef Broth)
Some time last year, I was browsing on the internet and came across a site that blogs about Malaysian food. I was very excited to learn that the author of My Lemony Kitchen, Lisa, hails from Kedah, Malaysia. That is where I come from too! I found myself very lucky to have stumbled upon her blog. Lisa is a food blogger who is based in Perth, Australia.
Though we both live miles apart, food blogging has got us connected! Lisa is a very talented cook, all the dishes she made and blogged about are just as authentic as those that one could find in Malaysia. I love checking her blog and feel a sense of closeness when I interact with her. Today, Lisa is going to share with us a very popular recipe from Kedah. Please welcome her!
When I first read Leemei’s invite to be her guest blogger, I nearly fell off my chair! I just could not believe what I was reading… me? Be her guest? Gave myself a good pinch to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Here I am today, with my first guest post. Thanks for the invite, Leemei!
Both of us are from Kedah, located in the North-Western part of Peninsula Malaysia, where lush green paddy fields stretched as far as eyes could see. Kedah is also known as the “Rice Bowl of Malaysia”, as it is one of the biggest producers of rice for more than half of the country’s home grown rice supply. It is a land of unique natural beauty, surrounded by much greenery.
The taste (particularly in using spices) of Malaysian food does vary, depending on which part of Malaysia a person comes from. People from the the Northern states (Perlis, Kedah, and Penang), tend to prepare their dishes a little more spicy. If not, they tend to serve freshly cut chillies during meals. Dishes that are prepared in the Central and Southern tend to cook less spicy food. We grew up enjoying varieties of food Kedah has to offer. It was a brilliant suggestion (Leemei’s) to write about Kedah local fare.
Bihun Sup or Vermicelli in Beef Broth is our specialty dish, one of many dishes we will miss when we are far away from our home. Bihun is a Malay word that means rice vermicelli. Rice vermicelli by itself is tasteless and soaks up the flavours of the ingredients that it’s cooked with. Hence, it is very versatile. Normally, rice vermicelli is stir-fried or made into soup noodle, like this one.
The broth is light yet flavoursome, which has the influence of Malay, Chinese and Thai. One thing that you will notice is the colour of the rice vermicelli, it is not white! Well, this is the main feature of bihun sup. Turmeric powder is used to colour the noodles in yellow, which makes this a distinct feature. The aroma of the soup will send my tummy rumbling with excitement, the addition of sambal in the soup will make me go for a second bowl and eat till my heart content… slurp!!
Please do try this special dish from Kedah and don’t be discouraged by the long list of items…it’s simple … really!
For the Bihun Sup (Rice Vermicelli in Beef Broth):
300-400g dried vermicelli
2 tsp turmeric powder
1 kg shin boneless/gravy beef (or 500g shine boneless/gravy beef and 1 kg chuck bones)
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
25g of ginger, bruised
150g shallots, blended
15g garlic cloves, blended
pinch of salt
Sambal (chilli paste):
2 tbsp chilli powder
5 tbsp of cooking oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
3 tsp brown sugar
3-4 tbsp tamarind paste
pinch of salt
2 spring onions, chopped
some coriander leaves, chopped
some pickled radish
1. Place the dried vermicelli in a pot or suitable heatproof container. Fill up the container to submerge the vermicelli. Then, add the turmeric powder, Mix well so we will not end up with blotchy vermicelli. Soak for 2 hours. After 2 hours, drain the vermicelli in a colander and return the drained vermicelli to the pot/container. Add boiling water and leave for 3 minutes. Drain again and rinse under cold water and set aside.
2. To make the stock, fill a pot with 2 litres of water and add the shin boneless/gravy beef and bones if using. Over high heat, bring to the boil for a few seconds. Then, cover with lid and lower the heat to simmer for at least 1 hour or until the meat is cooked and tender.
3. Take out the beef and put on a plate. Cover with cling film immediately so the meat will not dry up. Add the cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves and the blended shallots and garlic. Season with salt. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat to simmer for another 1 hour. Add 250ml of water if required.
4. Meanwhile, to make the sambal, mix the chilli powder with 2 tablespoons of water and mix into a paste, set aside for later use. Heat up a wok over medium to low heat and put the oil. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and slightly golden brown. Add the chilli paste, cook for about 10 minutes or until fragrant and keep stirring to make sure that the paste will not be burnt. Add the sugar and tamarind paste. Season with salt. Remove from the heat once when paste has thickened, set aside.
5. Just before serving and once the stock is ready, slice or shred the beef and put on a plate. Divide the yellow vermicelli into individual bowls, put some shredded beef, then garnish with spring onion, chopped coriander leaves and pickled radish. Bring the stock to a vigorous boil and ladle generous amount of the beef broth into bowls. Add the sambal.