Hong Kong Style macaroni soup
Hong Kong style macaroni soup with ham (火腿通粉) is the food that runs deep through my memories. It evoked many childhood moments when I was living in Hong Kong with my family.
Macaroni soup is the quintessential breakfast served in almost all the Cha Chan Tengs (tea Cafe). It is hugely popular because it is not only quick to prepare but is also a delicious light meal ideal for breakfast.
This fusion pasta dish is one of my favorite breakfast in Hong Kong. The lightness of the macaroni soup is a welcome change to my heavily flavored Nasi Lemak and Char Keow Teow. When served with the thick French toast with a slab of butter, coupled with the Hong Kong style iced lemon tea or Ovaltine, you’ll be here in heaven.
How does this novel combination of pasta and soup become a staple breakfast in Hong Kong?
It all started during the post-world war two era when many Western-influenced cafes were mushrooming in Hong Kong. They introduced Western cuisine with a taste of Asian flavor to the general public. During that time, Western food is deemed to be a luxury to the general public. Therefore, they decided to offer affordable Western fusion food catering to the factory workers seeking for a quick and affordable meal.
The cafes incorporated the deep-rooted Chinese eating culture of eating soup noodles and reinterpreted it with a novel idea to serve macaroni in chicken broth. The pasta is topped with simple ingredients such as fried eggs, pan-fried Spam, without the heavy cream sauce that is not well accepted by the locals.
It was an instant hit, and ever since, this pasta has become the quintessential breakfast to Hong Kongers of every age for decades.
The comfort food for people with an illness
Hong Kong style macaroni soup is also well known as the recovery food for kids and people with a hangover. Asian mothers will prepare this warm and soothing dish for their children when they catch a cold or sick because it is easily digestible.
How to prepare the Hong Kong style macaroni soup
Macaroni soup is downright comforting and straightforward. The pasta is served in a bowl of chicken broth, topped with a sunny-side-up egg plus Spam or ham slices. Some variations also include vegetables such as diced carrots and green peas.
Now let’s get into the details on how to prepare the macaroni soup.
1. Prepare the chicken broth
Nearly everyone who makes Hong Kong style macaroni soup is using chicken broth as the soup base.
We purchase chicken bones from our vendor for preparing the stock in the restaurant. If you make it at home, you can reserve the chicken bones after deboning the chicken, and use it to prepare the broth once you have the quantity. You can store the frozen bones for a few months in the freezer without deterioration of the flavor.
A quicker way is to use the store-bought chicken broth. It is not as tasty compared to chicken broth made from scratch. However, that is the easy way out if you are running short of time.
Here are the steps to prepare the chicken broth from scratch:
- Clean the chicken bones under running water.
- Remove any debris and impurities.
- Place the bones in a stockpot.
- Filled with cold water sufficient to just enough to cover the bones.
- Bring the water to boil.
- Remove the scum floating on the surface with a wire mesh strainer.
- Turn down the heat to a bare simmer. Cover the pot and let it simmer for 1 hour or until the bones turn soft and release all the flavor.
- Remove the bones from the broth. Strain the broth through a wire mesh strainer. If you want to get an extra clean broth, filter it once more by pouring it through a cloth bag.
- Return the clean chicken broth to the stove. Season with salt and pepper according to your taste.
2. Cook the macaroni
Macaroni is the most common pasta, but some cafés prefer to use seashells. Also, elbow macaroni is more popular than straight macaroni. However, this is not something crucial. Any pasta which can hold some broth (tube or shell shape) is suitable for this dish.
Here are the steps:
- Bring 2.5 liters of water to boil.
- Add half tablespoon of salt to the water.
- Place the macaroni in the boiling water.
- Reduce the heat and keep stirring for the first minute to prevent the macaroni from sticking to the pot.
- Continue boiling over low heat for ten minutes or as indicated on the packaging.
- Once the pasta becomes al dente, remove and drain.
- Add some olive oil to the macaroni and mix well to prevent them from sticking together.
3. Served with your favorite ingredients
The main ingredients for the Hong Kong macaroni soup are fried eggs and ham. Other common ingredients are luncheon meat, mixed beans, green peas, corn kernel, and diced carrot).
You can either dice the ham or luncheon meat into cubes or cut into strips. There’s also a choice to pan-fry them lightly before serving with the pasta.
As for the fried eggs, most cafes prefer to prepare the sunny-side-up egg with the half-cooked yolk. You can also replace it with sliced hard-boiled eggs.
Once you have the ham and egg on top of the macaroni, sprinkle some chopped scallion and serve.
- 250g macaroni
- 1/2 Tbsp salt
- 2 tsp cooking oil
- 500g chicken bones
- sufficient water to submerge the bones in the stockpot
- Salt and pepper to season the chicken broth to taste
- 2 sunny-side-up eggs (or hard-boiled eggs)
- 100g ham (cut into strips)
- 2 tbsp of frozen mixed beans (optional)
- Scallion to garnish
- Prepare the chicken broth by simmering the bones with water for one hour over low heat.
- Skim away the scum floating on the surface.
- Filter the broth through a wire mesh strainer and a cloth bag to get the clean broth. Season the broth with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook the macaroni until al dente according to the instructions on the packaging. Drain the macaroni and mix it with some oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
- Pan-fried two slices of ham of your choice (or use luncheon meat), then cut into slices or strips.
- Bring the amount of broth you need to boil. Add a tablespoon of the frozen bean.
- Place the macaroni in a bowl. Ladle the chicken broth over it. Put a sunny-side-up egg and ham into the bowl. (Alternative: hard-boiled egg and luncheon meat slices). Garnish with thinly sliced scallion and serve.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 976Total Fat: 48gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 31gCholesterol: 454mgSodium: 3159mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 86g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 6/11/2020