Friday, November 16, 2012

Mohinga - Burmese Fish Noodle Soup

Catfish Soup (center), Garnishes (top left), Rice Noodles (top right)

When it comes to comfort food, Mohinga is one of my favorites. It brings back fond memories of early morning vendors who carry a coal stove, holding a pot of soup, on one end of a pole and all the cooking utensils and ingredients for this noodle dish on the other end of a bamboo pole slung across the shoulders.  This noodle soup is considered the Burmese national dish and is eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Generally, every family has their own variation of this dish and this is my adaptation. I prefer to make a large batch of this meal and invite a group of friends to join in this hearty Burmese meal.

This recipe was adapted from the recipe featured on the Hsaba website. Two forms of catfish were used in my recipe, catfish nuggets (mostly from the belly of the fish) which are added at the start of making the soup and chopped fillets that are added at the end, to make sure that guests get enough fish in their soup bowls. 

Clockwise from top left to right: roasted and ground dried red chillies mixed with salt, lime wedges, chopped cilantro, deep fried chopped garlic, chopped green onions, deep fried onions and chopped hard-boiled eggs.
Mohinga in the bowl
Mohinga or catfish soup, flavoured with lemon grass or lime zest, is ladled over a bed of rice noodles and garnished with a variety of toppings. The components of this meal are all served separately. It is left up to each guest to add garnishes of choice. 

Serves: 6-8
Cooking Time: 50-70 minutes.


Fish Stock
1 lb. catfish nuggets, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb. catfish fillets, cubed
1 lemon grass stalk, bruised (or zest of 1 lime)
¼ tsp. ground turmeric
2 cups chicken broth

Onion Paste
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp. ginger paste
2 lemon grass stalks, white part only (or use zest of 2 limes)
3 whole dried chillies, soaked in hot water
1 tsp. shrimp paste
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. ground turmeric
6 Tbsp. peanut oil

8 cups chicken broth
2 young banana stems, sliced
(alternatively use 12 peeled pearl onions and/or 6-8 slivered water chestnuts)
1/3 cup uncooked rice, roasted and ground
3 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. ground black pepper

fine rice noodles, cooked
3 limes, each cut into eight pieces
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled & chopped
bunch of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
bunch of green onions, chopped
deep-fried onion slices
deep-fried chopped garlic 
gourd or onion crispy fritters (or crispy spring rolls)
extra fish sauce
roasted chilli flakes


Make the Fish Stock
Put fish fillets in a large pan, add 2 cups chicken broth, lemon grass stalks and turmeric. Bring to a boil and simmer for 6-10 minutes until the fish is just cooked. Remove fish from pan and set aside. Add fish nuggets and cook for another 10 minutes.  Remove lemon grass and drain the fish stock through a sieve, reserving fish stock for the soup and fish for a later step.

Make the Onion Paste 
Purée onion, garlic, ginger, dried chillies and white part of lemon grass in a blender.

Heat oil in a saucepan and add onion purée.  Cook over moderate heat for 15-20 minutes until caramelized. Add shrimp paste, mash with a wooden spoon until incorporated, then stir in turmeric and paprika. Cook for another minute until spices are fragrant before adding the cooked fish nuggets. Cook for 10-15 minutes, allowing all the flavors from the onion purée to infuse into the fish.  Remove from heat.
If you are making this in advance, cool the onion paste completely and freeze for up to 1 month.

Make the Soup
Put onion paste (completely defrosted if using from frozen), rice powder and reserved fish stock along with 8 cups of chicken stock in a large pan. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously to make sure the rice powder doesn’t clump. Add pearl onions or banana stems and simmer for 20-30 minutes until they are tender. Add fish sauce and taste for seasoning. Finally add in the cooked fish and lots of black pepper before serving.

To serve, put a handful of noodles in a bowl and ladle over the soup. Let everyone add garnishes as they wish. It should taste spicy, salty and tangy from the limes.

I shared this recipe on:


  1. Chumkie, thanks for linking this up - and the button looks neat. Hope your are having a good week.

  2. Thank you to all contributors of Burmese Food Lovers Kitchen. It is noted that nearly all are Very authentic and methods and ingredient expressed with views from many parts of Myanmar. Yangon Mohinga (the Noodles were once made with Slightly Fermented Rice) contains a lot of Fresh Water Fish especially Cat Fish (Nga Gyi or Nga Khoo) , Manadalay Mohinga uses Fresh Rice Noodles and it is the norm nowadays in Yangon too.. But instead of plenty of fish more Besan (Chick Pea) Powder is added and it has a less Fishy Taste but once you acquired the taste it is welcome. In Mergui the famous Myeik Ngan Pyar Yay is used and in Arakan strangely although it is on the Coast no Fish sauce is used but instead Rakkhine Fish Paste is added and Marine fish like Nga Shwe is used. But having tried all these Myanmar National Mohinga from Different Areas of Myanmar they all have a 'Hall Mark' and it is up to us to try and appreciate it as it should be appreciated and not to where we come from and you will really enjoy the taste &
    hospitality and the foods of the 135 Indigeneous Races of Myanmar and we are One Big Happy Family, if only our National Leaders or Rulers knows how to govern this Land of Plenty of Milk & Honey and under the Refuge of the Triple Gems.


Thanks for stopping by. I love to hear from all of you, so please feel free to leave a comment.

If you have a question I will reply to your comment. If you prefer an email response, please mention that and make sure your blogger profile is linked to your e-mail, otherwise I will not be able to e-mail you back.

Please note that any and all comments posted by 'Anonymous' persons are deleted without exception as a means of nuisance abatement.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting on this post.