Elizabeth and I have been friends since high school. Our friendship was not the most immediate—she is naturally more suspicious and takes a long time to warm up to people. I, on the other hand, will talk to just about anyone who is near me. So the first time we met, I had come up to her to say hello and ask her name only to be met with a suspicious, “why do you want to know?” At least, this is what Elizabeth tells me. I don’t remember that at all. I only know that we’ve been good friends for a long time. We’ve been through years of sitting next to each other through high school, work (graduate school for me), and of course, FOOD.
Sharing Our Passion
For as long as I could remember, many afternoons after school, she would come back to my house and we would hang out for many hours (many times under the pretext of doing homework or studying for exams when in fact we would be watching videos, chit chatting or sneaking out of the house to go to the shops in the back to get snacks and drinks—we were teenagers and we were always hungry!).
These days, we both hardly meet because we live in different continents. But we are so thankful for the Internet for it has allowed us to continue our friendship through chats online. Every so often when we actually have free time that coincides, we will give each other a call. Many times, these calls will be filled with talk of foods and recipes that we’ve tried.
It’s really funny actually because growing up, we talked about food too BUT we never talked about cooking food, we only talked about EATING food—where to eat, what to eat, when to eat (often and sometimes immediately after we’ve eaten!). But we were no cooks—our cooking experience probably boiled down to cooking rice and instant noodles. We laugh now when we talk because we never imagined that the both of us would become so passionate about cooking.
So even though we haven’t physically met in many long years, we’ve stayed very much connected. She still is one of my closest friends. We’ve shared our lives—our struggles, our disappointments, our hopes, and our recipes. Whenever I tried a recipe that I really liked, I would always share it with her and she would do the same. You have all benefitted from this friendship as I’ve now shared several recipes that I got from her – Easy Green Tea Tiramisu, Hong Siew Braised Tofu, Khau Yoke – (with many more to come!).
Fit for a Family, Perfect for a Party
And this is how I got to know about this tom yam fried beehoon. Eliz was the one who first clued me in to it and told me I had to try it (it’s an Amy Beh recipe). And I have done so many times for many different occasions. This dish is really great for a weeknight meal. It’s also really great for a weekend party. It will serve a family or a whole group with equal ease and deliciousness. There is a slight amount of heat to this dish though, so the only ones I don’t recommend this to are younger children (my kids are starting to be able to handle the heat).
Beehoon (or rice vermicelli, maifan, mifun) is one of those noodles that I always keep handy in my pantry. They are an easy fix on days when you don’t know what to cook or when you have unexpected guests. With a few extra ingredients in your fridge, you could easily fry up some beehoon. As a matter of fact, here in Malaysia, they are used very frequently for breakfast. You will find them simply fried with some beansprouts and soy sauce and served with fried egg in many hawker stalls during breakfast time or if you’re in Kuching, you’ll find them in Sarawak Laksa (also a breakfast meal).
Bee Hoon – Rice Vermicelli
For me, I sometimes use beehoon when I’m cooking up my KL Hokkien Mee substituting the thick noodles for beehoon. They are really good that way. But this tom yam noodle dish is also really wonderful with beehoon. See, beehoon on its own is not very tasty. It’s really just a vehicle for the sauce that it soaks up. And this particular recipe has an especially flavorful sauce because of the addition of brown bean sauce and tom yam paste. The addition of the tom yam paste gives this noodles a discernible spicy tangy flavor (almost like Mee Siam, but not quite). The brown bean sauce counters these flavors with its salty sweetness. Add to that the other fillings and it’s a colorful, flavorful palate for your eyes and mouth.
Tom Yam Paste
When we had our first official party at our house, I made this dish. I wanted to cook some things that were easy to do ahead of time. This tom yam beehoon is one of those. You just need to prep a few ingredients and the actual frying of it is very quick. A hot wok and some arm muscle and you’re good to go! Of course, if you’re cooking just for your family, the recipe as is will do (for the party I doubled the recipe).
Like many noodle dishes, the one tip I would give you is to make sure you prep all your ingredients and have them ready to go. Once you start frying the noodles, it is fast work and you won’t have time to chop something else up if you work while you cook.
Do give this noodles a try and let me know if you like it as much as Elizabeth and I!
Tom Yam Fried Beehoon Recipe
adapted from “At Home with Amy Beh” by Amy Beh
200g beehoon (rice vermicelli), soaked in warm water for at least 15 minutes or longer, drained before cooking)
2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp brown bean sauce (tau cheong), if it’s whole beans, chopped or if using the ground one, fine as is
2 Tbsp tom yam paste (any brand is fine—available at most Asian grocery stores)
125g medium-sized shrimp, shelled and deveined
100g chicken meat (1 ch
icken breast), sliced thin (or you could use a cooked chicken breast, shredded)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 block of firm tofu (taukwa), deep fried and sliced (I normally buy mine already fried but if you want, I’m sure it’ll taste just as good without frying)
100g garlic chives
1 tsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp thick soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar or to taste
dash of pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock
Garnishing (any or all of the below):
Fried egg omelette, thinly sliced
chopped green onions (about 2-3 stalks)
1 red pepper or jalapeno, sliced thin
*feel free to change about your fillings. No chives, throw in some green onions, no beansprouts, do without, no garnishes, no worries. It’s really not too fussy.
1. Season shrimp and chicken with salt, sugar, pepper and sesame oil for 10-15 minutes.
2. Heat oil on medium heat in a wok and fry garlic till fragrant but not burnt.
3. Add chicken and shrimp and toss well till just opaque. Dish out and set aside.
4. Reheat wok on medium heat with more oil, put in brown bean sauce and tom yam paste. Stir it around for just half a minute being careful not to let the sauce burn. If there isn’t enough oil, add more. Add beehoon and stir in combined seasoning and mix well.
5. Add bean curd slices and return the fried shrimp and chicken to the pan. Add beansprouts and chives and toss to mix well.
6. Taste and adjust seasonings.
7. Plate up and garnish.
What’s your favorite way to eat beehoon? Leave a comment and tell us!