Sunday, January 18, 2015

Salmon Fish Bone Tofu Soup (三文鱼骨豆腐汤)

Milky and light brown fish soup, full of flavor and packed with nutritious goodness. This is what I cooked for my family for dinner tonight. Not only the fish head, there's alot of fish bones in it too! Especially my skinny Mother-In-Law needs alot of nutrients now. Like Calcium, Omega and other goodness. All in this pot of soup.

On a side note... This soup is NOT FISHY all. It depends on how you cook it.

This soup is indeed nutritious, delicious and versatile. You may replace with your favorite vegetables in this recipe. Besides, having a warm fish soup is so comforting especially during the cold season.

I spotted some really fresh Salmon fish head and bones at Chinatown wet market today. Fish monger packed them into a big pack and selling it to me at S$8.00. There's quite alot of meat in the heads and the bones actually. For those who often cook fish soup will know fish bones and head has lots of flavor.

And this is how I prepare this soup....

To prepare :

1. Gently, give the fish head and bones a quick wash. Drain them using kitchen towel. Yes, you will need quite alot of kitchen towels to do the work. But if you did it well, it would make pan-frying easier. Wet fish will makes your pan-frying fish experience turned disaster.

2. Heat up some oil in a wok, add in few slices of ginger, sprinkle some salt. Under medium fire, pan fry the fish head and bones until lightly browned. You don't have to put too much oil. Salmon itself is oily. It will release oil on its own.

3. Let the fish rest on the paper towel to drain up some excess oil.

S$8.00 for all above fish bones and head is definitely too much for today. I divided them into two portion. 1 portion eat fresh, another portion wrap well and freeze away for next week. This means I only paid S$4.00 fish bones and head for 1 recipe.

(Source : Annielicious Food)

  • Some Salmon fish head and fish bones, about S$4.00
  • 2 thumb sized ginger, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed 
  • 1 block of firm tofu
  • 6 stalks of dried mushrooms, soaked till soft
  • 1 stalk of leek
  • slices of daikon
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorn, crushed
  • 1 bird's eye chilli
  • a kettle of hot boiling water... This is important
  • thumb sized rock sugar... This is important
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp Shao Xing Wine (Chinese cooking wine)
  • 3 tbsp Green Lime Juice or Calamansi Juice
  • dashes of pepper
  • Salt to taste
for garnishing
  • some Spring onions
  • some Coriander

As I mentioned earlier, you may replace with your preferred vegetables. If you don't like Salmon, you can use Threadfin bones too. Add in more ginger if your tolerance of fishy smell is low. But as I said right at the beginning, this fish soup is not fishy at all. But that's provided you follow my instructions.

But I have to confess that pan-frying the salmon fish bones do makes your kitchen  smells fishy. It's unavoidable. If you pan-frying fish at home before,  you will know what I mean. So, your kitchen do smells fishy after pan-frying the fish bones. But the soup won't taste fishy. Is that clear now?

Method :
  1. Boil a pot of water. We need hot BOILING water. Don't use room temperature water. 
  2. In a pot or a casserole, heat up a tsp oil, fry the ginger and garlic till fragrant. Add in pan-fried fish bones and head. Cover up with lid, let it fry for 5 to 7 minutes or until the fish bones and head is well heated up. Keep an eye on it, and don't burnt them.
  3. Add in the hot boiling water until the water covers the fish head and bones. This is important. You have to follow this if you wants milky looking fish soup.
  4. Add chinese mushrooms and black peppercorn. Turn fire to high heat and let it boil for 10mins. And then, add tofu, turn to medium low heat, and boil for another 10mins. 
  5. Remove any scums and oil floated on top of the soup during boiling process. Don't be lazy. Try to keep as little oil as you can in the soup.  
  6. Add shao xing wine, rock sugar, fish sauce, green lime or calamansi juice and salt. Give it a stir. Taste.
  7. Add in daikon slices and bird's eye chilli, cover lid, continue to boil for another 10mins. Taste the soup, add more salt if needed. Once it is okay, heat off, and leave it there. 
  8. Until you are ready for the meal, reheat the soup, garnish with spring onions and coriander.

Add in the hot boiling water into the the pan-fried bones gives milky looking fish soup base. If you use room temperature water, you might not be able to achieve what you want. I need to re-emphasize, it is HOT BOILING WATER. Don't give me lukewarm water or whatever nots.

Boil the fish head and bones under high heat at the first 10 minutes is also part of the trick that gives milky appearance soup result.

Ooohhh,.. Look at the milky and light brown color! Is this what you want to achieve? If yes, please DO NOT skip any steps that I mentioned earlier. My soup looked clean and very little oil.

Flavorful fish bones soup and some vegetables. Yes, this is simple, economical and absolutely delicious. You don't have to dry up your wallet to eat well.

I still remember how my mother-in-law complaint to me about the fishy smell on her salmon fish bones soup that she tried cooking months ago while I'm away from home. Today, she's actually savoring every last drop of broth in her bowl. I'm glad.

I hope you like it.

Comin' up... I will come up with some Chinese New Year dish. Stay tuned!


  1. Will it taste fine to add milk to the fish soup ?

    1. I didn't add milk. If you want, I guess you can add abit of evaporated milk? Let me know the outcome :)

  2. Looks doable, simple and delicious.Thank you. I enjoyed following your blog.

  3. This is really so good Annie. Thanks for sharing the steps to the preparation.

  4. Hi Annie,

    Wonder how you can remove fishy smells of salmon, is it you fry pan first (removing exccessing oil) or just put some ginger in soup?

    1. Hi jazzeyra,

      pan fry fish bones together with Ginger slices and add when cooking soup, you need to add more ginger into the soup. Read instructions carefully.

  5. Finally an update! :-) I refer your blog often. Thank you, this was very clear, and I appreciate that you photograph each stage step-by-step and explain why you do certain things. Learnt something new today. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Suvin for visiting my blog. I will try to do better :)

  6. Wahhh. I just bought a whole salmon today and was wondering what to do with the bones!! Thanks for the recipe! I will follow it carefully! :)

  7. Hi Annie.Thanks for sharing. Very informative abd clear instructions. I am amateur in cooking. How much is the amount of water? From Marg

  8. Hi Annie have you used the red clay claypot from thailand before ? Kelly

  9. I made this today and it was delicious! So easy! Thanks Annie! Some adjustments had to be made like I had used some fish heads I had accumulated, which were pomfret, sea bass and red tilapia. Then I went out and got 6 threadfin breams to get enough bones, head and meat for the soup. They were on Quick Sale anyway. Then followed your instructions exactly until the part where I had to add the rock sugar and other seasoning. Before doing that, I sieved out the head and bones and placed the fish meat in to cook. Next time I'll leave out the rock sugar or use a smaller rock cuz I thought it was a bit too sweet for my liking. I might also leave out the fish sauce just to see if it's savoury enough. The other changes I made were I had added local round spinach, used swiss brown mushrooms instead of shitake and added the soup to a bowl of mee sua to make fish mee sua soup!

  10. Marg, the amount of water I had used was just enough to cover the head and bones. You really can't go wrong with that part. Towards the end of the meal, I actually felt I should have added more water cuz hubby and I kept drinking the soup and ignoring the other liao "ingredients"!

  11. Hi annie!! Can i omit the chilli padi?
    Do i need to coat some flour to fry the fish ?

    1. Hi Lisa, yes. You can omit chilli padi. Do add some lime juice if you have it at gives good flavor to your soup too. You don't ha e to coat flour to fry the fish. Happy cooking!

    2. Hi Lisa, yes. You can omit chilli padi. Do add some lime juice if you have it at gives good flavor to your soup too. You don't ha e to coat flour to fry the fish. Happy cooking!

  12. Hi Annie, your soup looks very delicious. What is the size of your soup pot? I think I need to get a new pot before I can start cooking this soup.

    1. My soup pot is not big. This pot can feed 4 adult.

  13. Hi Annie, you mentioned kitchen will smell fishy but the bones will not smell fishy. Does this mean that when frying the bones you let the fishy smell "escape"? I thinking of covering the wok cos I'm scared of the splattering oil and the smell going every where. Will this work? Thank you! Your soup looks yummy btw!

    1. Hi Reese, the bones may smell fishy during pan-frying. But right after it is fried, you use it to boil soup, it will not have that fishy smell in your soup. But your kitchen may remain fishy. Haha. That's what I mean. And yes, you could cover the wok during pan-frying. I did that too :)

  14. Hi Annie, can I check if I can use the slow cooker to cook this soup? Thanks!

    1. I think you can. But for initial stage, you still need to brew it under stove, strong fire, until it is boiling. After that you can transfer to slow cooker for slow boiling.

  15. Hi Annie, can I leave the fish sauce and lime juice out? Also, can I just use salmon bones only?

  16. Hi Annie, can I leave out the fish sauce and lime juice out? Also, can I just use salmon bones?

  17. i made this today, and it tasted woderful!!!! i used only 1 tbsp of lime though. Thanks for your great recipe!