The Chicken Soup for My Soul

My kids love the “Kai See Hor Fun” or Chicken Koay Teow at Old Town.  Being an Ipoh-bred lass, I have definitely had my fair share of yummy chicken koay teow, which originates from my hometown.  I have often wondered how a seemingly simple-looking dish can taste so good.

My curiosity got the better of me and made me determined enough to try making it myself.

I was sure it was not as simple as boiling chicken stock and pouring it over koay teow.  Surely there must be a secret step involved.

And when I stumbled on this recipe from ChopinandMysaucepan, I knew I had found THE recipe.  It was the writer’s mother’s very own recipe, and it just felt so authentic when I read it.  The pictures seemed to call out to me and it looked simple enough to try.  Plus I found out what the “top secret ingredient” is… 🙂

So I tried it out last week, …and here’s we had for dinner that night:


Looks good, right? 🙂  I especially like the way how the orangey oil adds color to the dish.

Wanna know what the secret step/ingredient is?

It’s in that orangey-colored prawn oil, drizzled over the koay teow right before serving.  The orange color does not come from the prawns but from the gently-simmered prawn heads in oil.

I had to remove the heads from the prawns, and THEN remove the shells from the prawn heads.

Prawn heads, shelled and washed

Here comes the crucial part: simmer the prawn heads in vegetable oil until they turn crispy, and the oil turns orangey-brown.

Prawn heads enjoying a simmering oil bath

Here’s the prawn oil that I obtained:


Of course, I also did not forget another important ingredient that gives that extra Oooomph!!

Spicy “Bird’s Eye Chili” or “Cabai Burung” for that extra KICK

My son said it did not taste exactly like Old Town’s, but he still finished his whole bowl.  And surely it’s a good sign when hubby asks for seconds, right? 🙂

The recipe I referred to stated that this dish is like Malaysia’s answer to chicken soup for the soul, and in my case, it was definitely chicken soup for my soul, no matter where I may be 🙂


Chicken Koay Teow (Kai See Hor Fun)
Serves: 2-3 persons
(adapted from the original recipe here)


20- 25 medium to large prawns
2 pieces chicken carcass, fat trimmed and rinsed (I omitted this)
3 -4 large pieces pork bones, fat trimmed and rinsed (I omitted this)
2 pieces chicken drumstick and thigh
1 kg fresh koay teow
2 bunches garlic chives
1 bunch coriander (optional)
2 stalks shallots
1 tablespoon white peppercorn
1 cup vegetable oil
5 – 10 fresh birdseye / large red chillies  and soy sauce (as dipping sauce)
Deep fried spring onions for garnishing (I omitted this)
Salt to taste


1. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, trim prawn heads, remove from body and slit prawn lengthwise down its back and devein.
2. Put prawns into 3 litres of boiling water and cook prawns for 2 minutes. Remove and drain prawns in cold running water to stop its cooking.
3. Trim fat off drumsticks, chicken carcass, pork bones  and rinse in hot water. Then insert into the same stock pot with the 3 litres of water and let simmer slowly for approximately 2 hours.
4. Remove drumsticks after about twenty minutes when drumstick meat is soft and yielding to a knife. Remove meat from drumsticks with a kitchen scissors and set  aside.
5. Remove shells from prawns.
6. Remove head shell from prawns and in a separate small saucepan, gently simmer prawn heads in a cup of vegetable oil until heads are slightly crispy.
7. Drain oil and set aside. The oil should be flavoursome with a bright orange colour.
8. Turn heat down on stock pot when carcass bones are soft and gradually add between 3 – 4 large tablespoons of salt to taste.


1. Diced fresh chillies and add soy sauce as dipping sauce.
2. Blanch garlic chives for 20 seconds with boiling water to cook it and set aside.
3. Blanch and drain fresh rice noodles with boiling water to warm and get rid of excess oil.
4. Place warm noodles, garlic chives, slivers of chicken drumstick meat and prawns in serving bowl and ladle boiling stock over it.
5. Garnish noodles with diced shallots, coriander, deep fried spring onions and a sprinkling of white pepper.
6. Drizzle a tablespoon of the prawn flavoured oil onto the top and serve hot.

This recipe serves between 4 – 5 medium sized bowls.


Some common mistakes on this recipe include:

1.  There are ingredients that don’t belong in this beautiful bowl of noodlesbut seem to have crept into the recipe, and these are: hard boiled eggs, beansprouts and sambal. I have seen these ingredients in certain recipes and to me, these items simply spoil the clean and fresh flavours of the chicken and prawn stock.
2. Cooking the entire prawns in the stock pot without going through the process of extracting the prawn flavours by simmering the prawn heads in oil. The resultant stock becomes less flavoursome and natural fats from the ingredients combined in the stock produces a dull yellowish film of oil at the top of the stock pot. Tip: Go through the extra step of simmering fresh prawn heads in oil to extract the bright orange prawn flavoured oil.
3. Using dehydrated instead of fresh rice noodles.
4. Adding soy sauce or fish sauce into the stock.
5. Insufficient white peppercorns and salt resulting in a bland broth.

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3 Responses to The Chicken Soup for My Soul

  1. Charmaine says:

    How I wish for a bowl of your chicken soup now…

    The Giddy Tigress says: Hehe…thanks. Go try the recipe, it’s super easy!

  2. Adino says:

    Excellent! Thanks for sharing the ‘secret’ ingredient.

    The Giddy Tigress says: No problem, Adino 🙂

  3. Derek says:

    Good recipe. One thing misses out is rock sugar. The original one in Ipoh is sweet. In fact it’s much sweeter than people realize. Try it 🙂

    The Giddy Tigress says: Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll keep that in mind the next time I cook this.

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