Sometimes called noodle salad, kerabu beehoon is a Nyonya dish of rice vermicelli and lots of fresh herbs and aromatics, tossed with a spicy sauce and zesty lime juice. Colourful and refreshing, it’s a delicious representation of Malaysia’s diverse culinary culture.
While I’ve eaten this many times before, it took a weekend getaway at EQ Kuala Lumpur to motivate me to make it myself!
One of the staycation’s highlights was the buffet dinner at Nipah Restaurant. The platter of kerabu beehoon immediately stood out as it’s not something commonly offered at hotels. The glistening noodle threads indicated that the beehoon is not too dry, while the vibrant combination of colours made it look extremely appetizing – I couldn’t resist!
Tangy, salty, spicy and sweetish, with pops of umami from roasted anchovies and crunch from finely chopped aromatics, it was sooooooo good. I went back several more times to get seconds, hee.
When I got home, naturally the first thing I did was to google recipes for it. Among the many comments were, “kerabu beehoon is one of the healthiest dishes around.”
Delicious AND healthy? That’s all the reason I need to make it!
From all my R & D, I’ve concluded that kerabu beehoon is a very flexible dish.
It comprises 4 components: noodles (rice vermicelli), aromatics (lime, lemongrass, torch ginger flower, coconut, shallots), toppings (dried prawns, anchovies, peanuts) and sauce.
1) There is little to no cooking involved, just a lot of chopping and dicing. The only ingredients you may have to fry are the anchovies and dried shrimp. Even then, you can pan-toast them or oven-roast them.
2) There are two types of sauce: you can make it with tom yam paste or sambal belacan as base. Mine is the latter.
3) The quantities are all adjustable to your preference. For the sauce, just start with a small dosage, then slowly increase until you achieve your preferred saltiness/spiciness/sweetness/sourness.
What I’ve done is to take the best parts of three recipes that I like and make my own version.
My references are below:
1) Season with Spice blog http://blog.seasonwithspice.com/2012/03/nyonya-kerabu-bee-hoon.html
2) Pearly Kee’s video https://youtu.be/CM_DQcj__hU (The main difference between 1 and 2 is the sauce. Pearly’s version has soy sauce and sugar)
3) EQ KL’s version, which is topped with roasted (fried?) anchovies. This simple step adds a whole level of umami and crunch to your kerabu beehoon #gamechanger
Ok, full disclosure done 🙂 #icansleepnow
Now, go on and try my version of kerabu beehoon. It may not be very traditional or authentic, but I can assure you it’s darn delicious!
- 200 g rice vermicelli
- 6 kaffir lime leaves, centre spine removed and thinly sliced
- 1 stalk lemongrass, bottom white part only and finely minced
- 1 torch ginger flower, finely sliced
- 6 shallots, thinly sliced
- Sambal belacan
- Soya sauce
- Lime juice
- Salt and sugar to taste
- 1 tbsp dried shrimp, washed, pan-toasted and minced
- 1 tbsp small dried anchovies, oven-baked
- 1/2 cup freshly grated coconut, pan-toasted until brown
- 1 tbsp fried shallots
- 1 red chilly, sliced
- Soak rice vermicelli for 20 minutes and then blanch in hot water for 1-2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix all sauce ingredients except shallots. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Now add the shallots and mix. Keep in refrigerator for at least 15 minutes to let the flavours fully develop.
- Toss all the ingredients in a mixing bowl to combine. Dish out and serve - that's it!
- Feel free to add other greens/aromatics like mint leaves, daun selasih, bean sprouts etc. I just don't happen to like mint leaves!
- The quantities of the ingredients are as per my own personal preference. This is really one recipe where you have to adjust to your liking!