Northern Malay Noodle Soup by Chef Johari Edrus (Bihun Sup Utara)

Bihun Sup Utara literally translates as Northern Vermicelli (aka rice sticks) Soup; it’s famous in Kedah, which is in the northern part of the peninsula of Malaysia, and it consists of vermicelli that’s been soaked in turmeric to produce a yellow noodle, served with beef bone broth and a sweet sambal. Masters of Malaysian Cuisine chef and Masterchef Malaysia judge Johari Edrus hails from Kedah, and in this episode of Street Food Journeys: Malaysia featuring his homestate, Chef Jo shows our audience how to make this dish at home.

Watch Street Food Journeys: Malaysia (Kedah) here (Chef Jo’s Bihun Sup Utara segment comes in at around the 7:25 mark) >>

Bihun Sup Utara (Northern Malay Noodle Soup) by Chef Johari Edrus


Soup – 

6-7 shallots, cut into chunks
6 cloves garlic
1 kg beef bones, washed
300 g lean beef, cut into 2 or 3 large pieces
4 stalks Chinese celery, roughly chopped (reserve leaves for garnish)
4 spring onions, roughly chopped (reserve green part for garnish)
2-inch ginger, lightly bruised
1 pack Soup Spices
1 cinnamon stick
3 cloves
4 cardamom pods
2 star anise
1⁄2 TBSP ground cumin
1⁄2 TBSP ground fennel
1 1⁄2 TBSP ground coriander
1⁄2 TBSP ground black pepper
1 stalk lemongrass, lightly bruised
1⁄2 beef/chicken stock cube (optional)

Vermicelli –

500g dried vermicelli
1⁄2 teaspoon turmeric powder
Enough water for boiling

Red Sambal – 

1⁄2 cup cooking oil
4-5 TBSP chilli paste
2 TBSP chilli powder
2 TBSP chilli sauce
1⁄2 cup tamarind juice
2 TBSP sugar
Salt, to taste
Water for diluting

Condiments –

Boiled beef from the broth pot, diced
200g salted radish, soaked and pat dry
Lime, cut into wedges
Chinese celery leaves, shredded
Green onion, shredded
Fried shallots
Salt, to taste


Soup –

  1. First grind/pound the shallots and garlic till you have a coarse paste. Divide the paste in half (for both broth and sauce).
  2. Place all the ingredients into a large stock pot, add enough cold water to cover the bones/meat. Bring to a boil, skim any impurities from the surface.
  3. Reduce to a steady simmer for at least 2.5 hours, or till the meat is tender. Season to taste with salt and ground white pepper.

Vermicelli –

  1. Boil water in the pot, then add the vermicelli. Sprinkle the turmeric powder; stir well. Once the vermicelli is soft, remove from the pot.
  2. Pass through the cold tap water to cool it down and put aside.

Red Sambal –

  1. Heat up a pot, add in the cooking oil, sauté the remaining shallot/garlic paste until fragrant.
  2. Add the chilli paste, stir well; add a bit of water to dilute it.
  3. Add the chilli powder, cook further, add a bit of water to dilute it and continue to cook until the chilli powder is cooked through. Add the chilli sauce and cook until thickened, stirring continously to prevent burning.
  4. It’s time to add in the tamarind juice, salt and sugar. The sambal should be slightly sweet. Continue to cook until it becomes slightly thick in texture. Store in a container.

To Serve –

  1. Portion the vermicelli in a serving bowl, place the boiled beef, and some of the bone if you wish, salted radish, Chinese celery leaf, lime wedge, pour in the beef broth sprinkle with green onion, fried shallots and lastly a scoop of the red sambal. Serve immediately.

This episode of Street Food Journeys: Malaysia on Kedah also features:

  • a Roti Canai Sarang Burung (bird’s nest roti canai) cooking segment by yours truly
  • Malaysian diplomats Khairul Tazril, the Chargé d’Affaires to Serbia, and Kartini Tajul, the Education Attaché at the Consulate of Sydney
  • The JetLag Warriors trying bihun sup utara and roti canai sarang burung
  • Ken Abroad experiencing a river lunch
  • MOMC chefs Rene Juefri, Bob Adnin and Chef Dato’ Ismail Ahmad along with Salsabila Abbas, Syed Wafa, Fadhillah Ariffin, Sue Ann Ooi answering the question – “What dishes do you think of when you think of Kedah?”

The recipes for the entire series, produced in partnership with Tourism Malaysia Australia, can be found in the special edition MOMC eMagazine which you can download here >> Click to View or Download

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