This is another dish, which all Foochows swear by. Zao cai is mustard vegetable (vegetable = cai) preserved with red wine lees (zao), and hoon ngan is thick rice vermicelli noodles. This is savoury and sour, and is not easy to get the combination just right. The soup base should also be slightly thick.
The zao cai is finely chopped, some cooks now use a food processor to finely chop some of the zao cai to increase the sourness.
The hoon ngan is cooked in chicken stock with the zao cai and red wine, then put aside. The soup is further cooked with tomato pieces, other vegetables and various meats; sometimes a poached egg is added. Zao cai hoon ngan ‘special’ comes with pieces of fresh fish or prawns.
Versions of zao cai hoon ngan from Kuching and Sibu:
Tui e (Big Aunt) got me some zao cai to take home to New Zealand, so I can attempt to cook my own.