This Salted Fish Curry is an adaptation of the Nyonya version using freshly salted fish…
Kiam Hu Beehoon is fried rice noodles with salted fish, eggs, and kangkung. It is very tasty served with sambal belacan and lime wedges. A must try!
Back in 80’s when I was playing basketball for a local youth club in Sungai Petani, we ended our daily practice at about 9:30pm. All that playing made me very hungry. I was a lean teenager and had more then enough room for calories. The team would adjourn to a popular night hawker center at Jalan Dewa. There were all kinds of local favorites there ranging from delectable char koay teow to soupy treats like aak thooi mee suah (vermicelli soup with duck drumstick). However, the one dish that became my favorite was Kiam Hu Beehoon (Fried Rice Noodles with Salted Fish). A particular hawker sold this tasty treat from his van.
In those days, kiam hu (salted fish) was relatively cheap and so it was still a poor man’s delight. Unlike other types of stir fried noodles with strong flavors, the beehoon in this dish is very mild. The egg and kangkung add texture. Spice is provided in a small plate of Sambal Belacan and a squirt of lime to round off the flavors. Yum!
I liked this dish so much that I asked Mom to recreate it at home. Since she always kept top grade Mergui salted fish in the pantry, Mom had no problems whipping up this Kiam Hu Beehoon with lots of Sambal Belacan on the side. I used to be able to eat a haystack of the stuff. I had no problems burning it off since I was playing three to four hours of basketball daily. Some years later when Linda and I got married, Mom passed on this critical piece of information to her. As the saying goes, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”
Making this dish is easy in Malaysia even though the price of high grade Mergui salted fish has multiplied several times over. When we moved to the US, salted fish and kangkung were hard to find.
The salted fish found at the Asian markets were not the right type. Mergui salted fish comes in nice large slabs. It does not smell too fishy (the last being a relative thing). So, whenever I make a trip back to Penang, obtaining Mergui salted fish has become a priority.
Fortunately, kangkung is now more easily available after a ban on it was lifted. Prior to that it was considered a “noxious weed” because of it invasive nature. In the summer time, we can even get fresh kangkung from the Hmong vegetable farmers selling them at various farmers markets. With those ingredients in tow, and Linda’s delicious Sambal Belacan I am transported back to my teenage outdoor dining experience in Jalan Dewa all over again. 🙂
Kiam Hu Beehoon (Fried Rice Noodles with Salted Fish)
- 10.5 oz beehoon rice sticks / noodles (300g)
- 4.4 oz kiam hu (salted fish) (125g)
- 5 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- A dash ground pepper
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- ½ lb kangkung (water spinach), washed and cut into 2½ inch lengths (225g)
- Sambal belacan for serving
- Soak beehoon / rice sticks / noodles for 30 minutes. Drain.
- Cut salted fish against the grain into thin slices. Rinse and soak for 5 minutes. Drain then pat dry with paper towels.
- Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a wok or large fry pan. Combine eggs, ground pepper, and eggs in a bowl. Beat the eggs lightly with a fork. Pour into wok or fry pan. Allow eggs to set. Then stir fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- Add another 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the wok or large fry pan. Stir fry prepared salted fish until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- Add remaining 3 tablespoons vegetable oil to the wok or large fry pan. Sauté garlic for 30 seconds. Then add beehoon, soy sauce, fish sauce, and ground pepper. Stir and toss noodles to get it well coated with the sauces. If it is a little dry, add 2 tablespoons of water.
- Add kangkung (water spinach) and continue to stir fry for about 3 to 4. Then return eggs and salted fish to the wok or large fry pan. Toss to get eggs and salted fish well distributed. Turn off stove.
- Dish into 4 individual plates. Serve immediately with Sambal Belacan.