MFF KL Selangor: Fish Head (Fillet) Noodles

Sunday afternoon, alone at home, knackered from all the exciting activities all week (catering for 50 pax is probably something I will think harder before committing next time), what better than a soothing bowl of noodles with soup? That was my lunch today and it sure hit all the right spots.

Fish Head (Fillet) Noodles
Fish Head (Fillet) Noodles, with lovely pink hue from the intensely red tomato.

This is something that I cook often at home because it’s super quick and easy.  The origin of Fish Head Noodles is unclear, but some will tell you that the milky broth version originated from KL. It actually does remind me of Teochew Steamed Fish because of the key ingredients: Tomato, Kiam Cai (Pickled Mustard Greens), Ginger and Salted Plum, so I’m speculating that this might be Teochew in origin. Please do correct me if I’m wrong.

The purists will stick to having this noodle soup with deep fried Fish Head but I’m not a fan of having fish bones in my soup. I have choked on a few fish bones in my lifetime and do not wish for recurring episodes. Luckily for me, there are places in Klang Valley that do serve this with fish fillet and I stick to that version at home. As for choices of fish, any firm-fleshed fish that can withstand frying would work. I’ve even seen a Salmon version as featured on Quay Po Cooks‘ blog.

Can't get enough of that lovely red tomatoes!
Can’t get enough of that lovely red tomato!

Ironically, the first Fish Head Noodles recipe I’ve come across online was actually done by a Korean lady. Her version is missing one really important ingredient that would render this recipe non-halal: Shao Xing Wine. It adds such an alluring aroma to the soup and completes the flavour profile. Like Shannon, I’ve opted for the thick Rice Vermicelli (Fen Gan) which is something I always have at home at it’s also used in Zao Cai Mee Hoon (a Foochow Dish), another tangy soup noodles dish. Can you tell I love noodles?

Key ingredients
Key ingredients. This is a pic I snapped a week earlier using snapper, but today I used Garoupa fillet

Fish Fillet Noodle Soup (serves 1)
100g Garoupa Fish, cut into smaller pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper
Flour to coat fish
100g Rice Vermicelli (Thick or Thin according to your preference), cooked to directions of packet
Sesame oil
Thumb size ginger, sliced into thin strips
2 pieces of Pickled Mustard Green, sliced into thin strips
1 Tomato, cut into wedges
1 Salted Plum
1 teaspoon Fish Sauce
1 tablespoon Shao Xing Wine
250ml Chicken Stock
A pinch of Dried anchovies
10ml Evaporated milk (slightly more if using Fresh milk)
2 stalks Spring onions, thinly chopped
Handful of Coriander, roughly chopped
Peanut oil for shallow frying

Prepare the noodles: I cooked mine in boiling water for 1 minute or 2 until al dente, then drained and served in bowl.

Coat the fish pieces with flour and shallow fry until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

In a pot, lightly stir fry the ginger in sesame oil, then add the chicken stock, dried anchovies, pickled mustard green, tomato and salted plum. When the broth starts to boil, add Shao Xing Wine and fish sauce. Let it simmer for 10 minutes and remove the foam on top.

When the broth is ready, turn off the heat and remove the anchovies (if you want). Stir in the evaporated milk just before serving and pour over the noodles. Place the fish pieces on top and garnish with spring onions and coriander.

Ahhhhh... satisfaction in a bowl.
Ahhhhh… satisfaction in a bowl.

When done right, the broth is slightly sweet, with just a hint of creaminess (you can opt for creamier version with more milk of course), tangy (tomato and plum) yet savoury (from the pickled mustard green, though it’s actually a little tangy too). Yet it takes no more 20 minutes to prepare! Now you know why I prefer to cook this at home.

I am submitting this post to Malaysian Food Fest Kuala Lumpur Selangor Month hosted by Shannon of Just As Delish. Also submitting to  Little Thumbs Up organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of My Little Favourite DIY and hosted by Alvin of Chef and Sommelier.


44 Comments Add yours

  1. kenhuntsfood says:

    lovely, it’s weird that fish head noodles in KL will add in evaporated milk and those in penang don’t… but i like the smooth and milky flavor though

    1. kellysiew says:

      Yeap! I guess it’s kinda unique to KL but I like the creamy flavour, very comforting.

  2. very appetizing! hmmm, now i’m wondering if a deluxe mixed-fish version would work for a fish head noodle recipe … maybe, say, noodles topped with a variety of fish, including garoupa, salmon, tuna, snapper & halibut all at once. though the flavors of the different fish might clash with each other 😀

    1. kellysiew says:

      Wah then wouldn’t the bowl be covered with fish? Lol.

  3. Chef and Sommelier says:

    Hi Kelly! The soup sure looks creamy and full of flavour to me! I cook this at home too but without the preserved mustard green. There is also a secret ingredient to this soup noodle dish – dried sole fish powder. Try adding this the next time you cook this! 😀

    Thanks for supporting the LTU! Cheers!

    1. kellysiew says:

      Oh. I used the anchovies for the umami flavours but wasn’t aware of the dry sole powder. Wonder if I can get that in supermarket?

  4. arghhh i’m craving for yu tao mai fan NOW!

    that’s what i ALWAYS have whenever i touch down KL 😀
    thanks Kelly! now i can try to execute it at home! must kick my butt to start cooking again!

    1. kellysiew says:

      Yeah you should try cooking it at home!

  5. suituapui says:

    I love fish balls soup with mihun or glass noodles but somehow, I don’t quite care for fish in noodle soup…except perhaps in tom yam soup but there too, I would prefer prawns or sotong. Yours look really good though – hmmmm…haven’t had preserved vegetable with fish soup for along time, craving now…

    1. kellysiew says:

      The preserved veges make the soup tastes so good. Actually sometimes I’ll just skip the fish and make it kinda vegetarian (oh well still got chicken stock haha) but nice to have the fresh fish once in a while.

  6. Your broth looks so rich and flavourful. I am kind of glad your exchanged the fish heads with fish fillets. My teenagers do not like the eyeballs staring back at them but I know this is the most flavorful part of the fish. Take Care, BAM

    1. kellysiew says:

      I don’t mind the head if it’s in steamed. In fact I love the eyes! But just icky about fish bones in soup.

  7. Oh wow catering for 50 is a huge job Kelly! And yes nothing comforts like a bowl of soup 😀 This look wonderful!

    1. kellysiew says:

      I’m still sore today! I think it’s another noodle soup day. Haha

  8. cquek says:

    Scrumptious! The kind of dish I love to eat all year long.

  9. This is a scrumptious looking fish dish

    1. kellysiew says:

      Indeed! I personally don’t have a problem having this few days in a row.

  10. devilck says:

    This looks great! But I think this is a bit advance for us, hehehe

    1. kellysiew says:

      So easy ler! Everything in the pot and cook the fish separately. Sure you can do it.

  11. Janine says:

    I love fish soup, and this is probably the next best healthy option (other than salad) that I can eat in the city when I’m working.

    1. kellysiew says:

      Probably true, if they don’t out any MSG in the soup.

  12. Love fish heads!! The Boy doesn’t like them so I can’t ever have them .. waaaa

    1. kellysiew says:

      You can just make portion for one and devour the whole thing yourself! Hahaha

  13. Kenneth Goh says:

    I first had it in Singapore. Any idea why milk was added? It always amazed me that why a Chinese cooking uses milk! Of course fish bones boiled for a long time will turn milky. Well written

    1. kellysiew says:

      I tried to dig up the history to no avail. I know of you cook really fresh fish the soup actually turns milky white. I suppose this might be a shortcut way of doing it because no fish is actually used in the stock except for anchovies?

      1. Kenneth Goh says:

        May be I should used your recipe and go all way using fish head and bones and see whether it taste the same. Haha

      2. kellysiew says:

        The fish is cooked separately, so the broth will taste the same but of course, if you love fish head you would prefer the head version.

      3. Kenneth Goh says:

        Current generation never like fish head. The use of fish head and fish bones is to “save money”. Haha.

        I have posted this nice post of yours in a Facebook Group: “Food Bloggers United” ( for all bloggers to share their publications there. All food bloggers are invited also. Presently, there are some Singapore, Indian and Australian bloggers have become members and will post soon. If you have time, just visit to have a look and feel free to post if you want. Thanks

  14. The Yum List says:

    Thanks for the recipe, but I think I’d much rather eat your cooking! 😉

    1. kellysiew says:

      Hahahaha! Come again soon! 😀

  15. Zoe says:

    Hi Kelly,

    Cooking this just for one… I will be too lazy to cook just for myself :p Saw that you have taken a pic of the ingredients a week ago. Are you cooking this very often for yourself? Great effort!


    1. kellysiew says:

      The one I cooked the week before didn’t look very good so I cooked it again. Though I do have this quite often. For me noodle soup is the easiest meal for one lor

  16. Such a colourful and multi-flavoured fish noodle dish! Looking so tasty!! You’re so talented 🙂

    1. kellysiew says:

      It’s very simple but I do love colourful food! 😀

  17. My hubby would freak if I told him we were having fish head soup, so I’m glad you have an alternative title 😉 So vibrant and lovely…I just know it’s delicious!

    1. kellysiew says:

      Hahahaha my other half is terrified of fish in general especially fish head! I guess a lot of expats really can’t understand why we need to eat something that’s staring back at us.

    1. kellysiew says:

      It is! 😀 Sometimes I actually cook the noodles without frying the fish on the side.

  18. Purely.. Kay says:

    This looks so scrumptious and wonderfully executed. Yummy.

  19. sycookies says:

    Love this. Also love the fish printing plate.

    1. kellysiew says:

      Sharp eyes you have!

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