If you love the Asian continent and its delicious cuisine, if you are ready and curious about new culinary experiences, if your taste buds invite you to curiosity, then follow us to Singapore today for a fish head soup called yue tow mai fun or fish head beehon soup.
Singapore or the art of dining
Singapore is an island in southeastern Asia, located in the southern part of the Malay Peninsula, consisting of the island of the same name, Bukum Island and other smaller islands.
Singapore is considered a “gourmet paradise”, where eating is more than just food, it’s an art. It is no exaggeration to say that eating is part of the spirit of Singapore. Indeed, good cooking is considered part of the national identity. Singaporean literature indicates that eating is a national pastime and that eating is a real national obsession.
The cuisine of Singapore
Singapore is the where Eastern and Western cultures meet. This aspect is found in everything about this eclectic city: in its architecture, art, urban landscape, shopping … and of course in its gastronomy.
Indeed, Singaporean cuisine is based on a series of dishes from Malay, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian and Japanese culinary traditions, as well as Western contaminations from the British and Portuguese colonial periods.
A stroll through Singapore will expose you to dozens of different smells: the typical perfumed coffee, the tangy durian, so spicy that it is forbidden to introduce this fruit on public transport, but also the fried fish, the jam pandanus, chicken and fish cooked in rich and tasty sauces.
Eclecticism and the fusion of different traditions and populations could only have an impact on the culinary sphere. A legacy of ancient traditions, Singaporean cuisine is tasty, spicy and well seasoned. In the preparation of typical dishes, you can find garlic, onions, shallots and various spices. Singapore cuisine has become one of the most popular in the world, with unique dish creations.
What do people eat in Singapore?
If you’re wondering what to eat in Singapore, here are some ideas that will tickle your taste buds and make your mouth water:
– Chili crab: one of the most popular dishes in Singapore and Malaysia. The whole crab is sautéed in a skillet and cooked with a thick sauce with tomato and chili.
– Satay: grilled kebabs of marinated meat (or chicken), many variations of which are found in Southeast Asia. Satay is originally from Indonesia and Malaysia.
– Mee soto ayam: delicious egg noodles served in a chicken broth.
– Hokkien hae mee, also popular in Malaysia: wheat and rice noodles sautéed with eggs, pork, shrimp, all trimmed with vegetables.
– Laksa: rice noodles served in a curry and coconut soup, with eggs and shrimp or with chicken. Laksa is also known as khao poon in Laos.
– Pisang goreng, a banana dessert also known in Indonesia as kolak pisang.
What is yue tow mai fun?
Yue tow mai fun is a milky soup made from fish head and rice vermicelli.
In Simplified Chinese, yú tóu 鱼头 (yue tow) means head of fish and mǐfěn 米粉 (mai fun) means rice vermicelli. Which gives yue tow mai fun meaning fish head rice vermicelli.
Rice vermicelli is a very thin form of rice noodle. They are sometimes called rice noodles, rice sticks, or beehoon. Be careful, they should not be confused with cellophane noodles, which are another Asian type of mung bean vermicelli. Rice vermicelli are present in many Asian cuisines, where they are often eaten in a soup, sautéed or in salad.
What fish to use for yue tow mai fun
The snakehead is the most widely used fish for preparing yue tow mai fun. Pomfret is also used. However, in the absence of these two fish, a grouper’s head would do the job to prepare this dish. You can easily cook yue tow mai fun with a fish fillet but neglecting the head would be a shame.
Typical neglected fish parts
There are many parts of the fish that are often overlooked and that can be turned into tasty recipes. And the same goes for shellfish.
Top of the list is the burbot liver, dubbed the foie gras of the sea: fine, full of flavor, spread on toast, it is a temptation that knows no resistance.
On the contrary, the fish cheeks are delicate, almost velvety. In China, they are considered the most popular pieces. In Spain, cod and hake cheeks are served with pil-pil, a green sauce made from olive oil, garlic, chili and the cooking juices of the same fish. In Iceland, cod cheeks are salted with tongues and then smoked.
The biggest star is the tongue of the cod, also a part of the head: marinated, fried, steamed. The Norwegians love it and consider it one of the most delicate dishes. And from these regions, or northern countries, they use the eggs of this fish as a caviar.
Then, with the tuna, miracles are accomplished. In Sicily for example, the head is identified as the best part, and it is baked. The heart of the tuna is a must, especially as an appetizer, grilled and seasoned with a little olive oil. You will also find recipes with the stomach and the liver.
And what about fish eggs?
Caviar as well as boutargue (from the south of France and Italy) are quite popular. Cod eggs captivate Norwegians and are famous around the world.
The Japanese have long been introducing salmon, herring and sea urchin eggs into their cuisine.
And the Danes love lumpfish eggs on boiled eggs.
In India, they fry shad eggs or crush them with oil.
Véra and I prepared this fish together. Four-handed work for an excellent milky soup … without milk!
- ¾ lb fish head meat (preferably grouper), washed
- 1 cup cornstarch
- ½ lb rice vermicelli (beehoon), immersed in water, then drained
- 1 (1-inch) piece ginger , thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic , crushed
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 4 cups water (or fish stock)
- ½ lb mushrooms , sliced
- ½ cup evaporated milk
- Vegetable oil (for deep-frying)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder
- 2 scallions , cut into 1-inch sections
- Red hot chili pepper , sliced
- Season the pieces of fish head with salt, then drench in the cornstarch. Deep fry in a hot oil bath until the pieces are golden and crispy (about 8-10 minutes). Lay the pieces on paper towel and set aside.
- Heat oil and sesame oil until hot. Sauté the garlic and ginger for 2 minutes. Add water or fish broth and bring to a boil.
- Add seasoning, rice vermicelli (beehoon), mushrooms and fish head pieces. Simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, then add the evaporated milk. Bring to a boil.
- Ladle the soup into individual bowls and serve immediately with garnish.