I had a craving for Mee Soto this last week and decided to try my hand at making some at home, using my mum’s recipe. Mee soto is a popular spicy noodle dish found in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. There are several variations throughout the region. The one that is found in Singapore features a spicy soup made with chicken, ladled over yellow egg noodles or rice vermicelli, and garnished with the shredded chicken, fried shallots, local celery leaves and served with a spicy sweet chilli and soya sauce. There is also a version using lontong or ketupat (a Malay favourite consisting of cooked compressed rice wrapped in banana or coconut palm leaves) instead of the noodles, called Soto Ayam.
I did a quick check online and found that most of the recipes use a spice blend for soup from Adabi. Since I didn’t want to get a pack just for this dish, a quick call to my mum yielded a made-at-home version of the spice blend. The soup turned out remarkably close to the ones sold at the food stalls. I also made the accompanying sauce and another very popular addition, bergedil – Malay-style potato patties. Good eats!
(Note: Apologies for the blurred pixs. They were taken in a hurry as I forgot to take some once the food was ready)
1 whole chicken (cut up and cleaned)
4-5 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 pack Adabi whole spices for soup (You can make your own by placing 2 cm cinnamon stick, 1 tsp fennel seeds, 2 star anise, 3 cardamom pods, 4 cloves and 1/2 tsp black peppercorns in a small cheesecloth and tying it up)
Enough water for the stock
5-6 candle nuts (soaked in water for 15 mins)
4-5 lemongrass (remove outer layer and cut into chunks)
1 large onion (roughly chopped)
5 small bay leaves
2 tsp fennel powder
2 tsp cumin powder
4 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Rice vermicelli, yellow egg noodles or lontong
Chopped local celery leaves
Place the chicken, ginger-garlic paste and the whole spices in a large pot and fill with enough water for the soup. Gently bring to the boil and simmer, covered, til the chicken is cooked.
In the meantime, blend the candlenuts, lemongrass and onion to a paste. Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a pan and add the lemongrass paste. Add in the bay leaves and the ground spices. Stir-fry on low heat til paste is well-cooked (Do not rush this step. Keep the flame low and stir occasionally for about 15-20 min. Seems like a long time but definitely worth it. Just enjoy the smells while you stir!) Once the chicken is cooked, transfer the spice paste into the soup and stir. Season with salt (make sure to taste to ensure that the soup is well seasoned). Simmer gently for another 5 min. Serve with the noodles or lontong, blanched beansprouts, local celery leaves and fried shallots.
Sambal cili kicap (Sweet spicy cili and soy sauce)
5-6 birds’ eye chillies (roughly chopped, be careful!)
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup sweet dark soya sauce
2 tbsp lemon juice
Blend the chillies and garlic til fine. Stir in the soya sauce and lemon juice. Check the seasonings and adjust accordingly. Store in the fridge. Keeps for 1 month. You can also serve it as a dip for fried chicken or fish. Or use it to accompany other noodle dishes.
Bergedil (Malay-style potato patties)
The patties are usually made out of fried potatoes but I’ve modified it by using steamed potatoes instead to make the dish a little healthier. I prefer making larger ones when eating with Soto but you can make them smaller if you wish.
150g mince beef
2 large potatoes (peeled and steamed in the microwave on High for 5 min)
2 tbsp fried shallots
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Salt to taste
1 egg (lightly beaten)
Mash the potatoes til smooth (no chunky bits!). Add the mince, fried shallots, black pepper, nutmeg and salt. Mix well with your hands. Form into golf ball-sized rounds from the mixture. Flatten slightly to form patties. Place on a plate and cover with clingfilm. Let the patties rest in the fridge for about 30 mins, or til ready for frying. I find that doing this helps the patties keep their shape when frying. Heat enough oil in a pan to come up the patties halfway. Once the oil is hot, dip a patty in the lightly beaten egg. Shake off the excess and fry in the oil. Repeat for as many of the patties that can fit in your pan. DO not overcrowd them and fry in batches if needed. Fry til both sides are golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.