How to make easy Crab Bee Hoon, a popular Singapore zi char dish of crabs served in a delicious milky broth.
Crab Bee Hoon is a Singaporean rice vermicelli dish with whole mud crab served in a claypot and aromatic milky broth. Bee Hoon or rice noodle has the ability to soak up the stock from any dish and that’s one of the main reasons it is so popular among the locals!
What Kind of Crab to Use for Crab Bee Hoon?
The typical crab used in restaurants would be Mud Crab. Any crab of choice will work for this, as long as they’re fresh crabs! I use whatever crabs available in the market on that day, I am using mud crabs today.
How to prepare live crabs? I wish I could tell you how to prep and kill live crabs, unfortunately I’m incredibly squeamish about this. I simply ask my fishmonger to help me do the deed. If you’re as squeamish as me, know that that’s an option for you!
Another option is to use frozen cooked crabs. These are basically crabs that are immediately frozen once they’re killed and cooked, therefore sealing in its freshness.
Female or Male Crabs?
It’s very easy to distinguish female and male crabs. Simply check the underside of the crabs/ Female crabs have a larger circular shape at the bottom, while the males have a thin and sharper uh, phallic-looking, strip.
Supposedly the males have more meat in it compared to the females, but I personally don’t find this to be the case. I prefer the female crabs since you would usually get the extra benefit of crab roe!
What Noodle to Use for Crab Bee Hoon?
Crab Bee Hoon typically uses two types of noodles; rice vermicelli bee hoon noodles, or the thicker bee hoon. The thick bee hoon is a rice noodle as well, and it would be similar to the type of noodle used for Laksa.
You’ll find either varieties used, but I prefer using the thin vermicelli noodles.
Rice vermicelli bee hoon soaks up the delicious broth, giving each slurp extra oomph! On the other hand, the thicker bee hoon would cut a step in preparing since you can skip soaking the noodles and add it straight to your broth.
I prefer the more satisfying vermicelli, so I don’t mind taking the extra soaking step – which is but a mere 10 minutes extra only!
Seasonings, Herbs and Aromatics to Use
The ingredients used are extremely minimal and simple. All you really need for aromatics would be ginger and garlic, that’s it!
TIP #1 – I like to add galangal, or blue ginger, and if you have this I highly recommend you add this in too. Galangal has a citrusy, floral, herby flavour, which goes amazingly well with seafood.
Crab Bee Hoon in restaurants use Chinese Shaoxing wine, or hua tiao chiew, which gives it a slightly bitter, herby flavour. Since I do not cook with alcohol, I find the galangal is the perfect replacement for that herby flavour!
Galangal is optional though. Even if you do not have this, you will still have a delicious dish!
This is how simple this recipe is: we are only using Fish Sauce to season! Fish sauce complements crab so well, but you can also replace this with light soy sauce or even just salt.
Type of Stock to Use for Crab Bee Hoon
I used Prawn Stock in this recipe, because I always have lots of prawn heads and shells in the freezer! I love it for Crab Bee Hoon, but if you don’t have this on hand, and just don’t want to fuss about with making stock from scratch (even though it’s SUPER easy), then use chicken stock!
I’ve used both homemade chicken stock and ready-made ones, and they both produced equally delicious crab bee hoon.
Of course, homemade chicken stock is healthier, but hey, I totally get that easy, fuss-free lifestyle.
Canned evaporated milk is the milk of choice to create that delicious milky broth. Evaporated milk is slightly creamier and richer, in between regular milk and heavy cream. That said, you can use regular milk for this. For a non-dairy option, use oat milk.
For a creamier broth, add more of the milk.
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Crab Bee HoonCourse: Recipes
- Prawn Stock
300g Prawn/Shrimp heads and shells
1 litre Water
1-2 tbsps Oil
- Crab Bee Hoon
5-600g or 2 medium Crabs, cleaned and cut
200g Rice Vermicelli, soaked in hot water
1 litre Prawn Stock or Chicken Stock
1 tbsp Butter
1-2 cloves Garlic
1 inch Ginger
1 inch Galangal (optional)
1.5 tbsps Fish Sauce, or to taste
1/4 tsp White Pepper
1/2 cup Evaporated Milk
Garnish with Cilantro/Coriander
- Preparing the Prawn Stock (optional)
- To a pot, add oil. Once hot, add the prawn heads and shells. Stir fry the prawn heads and shells over medium heat until it turns completely orange.
- The prawn heads and shells will begin to have liquids drawn out. Continue stirring and allow the liquid to completely evaporate.
- Stir in water and allow to come to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Strain liquid and prawn stock is done. See my post “How to Make Prawn Stock” for more info.
- Preparing Rice Vermicelli
- Add dry rice vermicelli or bee hoon noodles to a bowl.
- Add hot water to the noodles and allow to soak for about 10 minutes, or until noodles are soft and malleable. Drain the bee hoon, and rinse with water to stop the cooking process.
- Cooking the Crab Bee Hoon
- To a wok or pot, melt the butter.
- Once butter melts, add ginger, garlic and galangal, if using. Saute until fragrant, or until the butter starts foaming.
- Add the crabs and stir fry to combine with the butter.
- Gently pour in the stock and season with fish sauce. Stir to combine and allow broth to come to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat to a gentle simmer and let the crabs finish cooking. Option to cover with a lid. My two medium crabs cook through in 7-8 minutes.
- Add evaporated milk and ground white pepper. Give it a taste test and feel free to add more fish sauce if it needs it.
- Add the soaked vermicelli next, and wiggle it in the broth with the crabs.
- Crab Bee Hoon is done! Garnish with cilantro. Serve in a claypot for a restaurant-style finish.