Wash it down…

I was talking about Foochow cuisine in my post the other day about how it was notorious for being bland and more of quantity over quality. Well, I do not think it is a Foochow thing but I reckon that Chinese people in general would want to have soup alongside all the other dishes during their meals. My father’s a true-blue Foochow and he, for one, would insist on that…and if I may digress a bit, he would always grumble about how silly westerners are – having their soup first in a full-course meal with a bun thrown in for good measure. He is of the opinion that after drinking all that soup down and when the bread expands in it, one would be too full to eat anything else.

Anyway, to get back to our discussion about soup, because of the aforementioned reason, my mum would have soup all the time. It could be something very simple – cangkuk manis or kangkong boiled with a couple of cloves of garlic and salt and msg added according to taste. I did not mind the cangkuk manis owing to the sweetness of the vegetable but I would not think I would want to cook either of these this way. There were other vegetable soups with meat or bones in them but we being kids, anything with vegetables would not be on our list of favourites. To this day, I would very much prefer the tauhu kee (bean curd stick) soup or the piansip skin soup…or the fish balls with tung hoon (glass noodles) or the lightly-fried taukwa (firm bean curd cake) stuffed with minced meat soup and every kid’s favourite – the sweet corn soup.

We did enjoy this though…

Bovril soup 1

On days when there was no soup or we had finished it all up over lunch and there wasn’t any for dinner, my mum would make Bovril soup. That is very easy to make – just a spoonful of Bovril with a pinch of msg…

Bovril soup 2

…add hot/boiling water and there you have it! A bowl of nice Bovril soup! As a matter of fact, to this day, I still make this soup to go with our meals sometimes and Melissa quite enjoys it. Way back then, we also had soup made with Marmite sometimes (depending on what we had in the house to eat with our porridge) and it was also quite nice.

I can also recall how once in a while, my mum would cook mee sua

mee sua

…and serve it in Bovril soup and I used to enjoy it very much. Well, which kid doesn’t enjoy noodles, you tell me…and during our time, anything like that would be a real treat to behold. We kids were not as fortunate  as those today – they probably would scoff at something like this, I wouldn’t be surprised…

Bovril mee sua 1

Normally, I would have it plain but since I had some spring onions in the fridge, I decided to chop a bit to garnish my bowl of Bovril noodles and I also had some leftover stewed beef, so I added that as well…

Bovril mee sua 2

But personally, if I were to cook Bovril mee sua today, I would much rather have the dry version…

Bovril mee sua - dry

– the same way as I would cook Bovril kampua/noodles. I think this tastes a lot nicer…and I certainly would love it more.

So tell me, what do you people do with your Bovril other than eating it with porridge? Care to share?

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

39 thoughts on “Wash it down…”

  1. Bui, you’re a foochow? how come your last name is Wee? Wees aint foochow eh

    Don’t ask me. My grandpa and my father both Wong alias Wee…and by the time it got to me, the Wee has disappeared. My uncles and aunties – some Wongs, some Wees… Let’s just say…it’s complicated. LOL!!! In the words of Shakespeare, what’s in a name – a rose by any other name will smell as sweet…but one thing’s for sure – Two Wongs don’t make a Wright! Heard the joke before? 😀

    1. Bui, do u speak foochow or hokkien at home then?

      Hokkien. My mum’s half Foochow/Melanau and they all spoke Hokkien or Melanau at home…so I guess when my parents went dating, they spoke Hokkien. Those days, dialects were common- most could speak two or more, not anymore. Everyone speaks Mandarin now – the dialects have died out. Many here cannot understand what I say when I speak Hokkien to them and as they say, it you can’t beat them, join them.

  2. In my family, bovril is only eaten with porridge. We got other nice food mah.. Lol!

    Try tossing noodles with it – you’ll be a convert, I’m sure…take my word for it, like in the case of our kampua! You simply refused to believe until you tried – doubting Thomas!!! I cooked once in Auckland at my brother’s place…and the little son asked for more!

    If it’s plain porridge, I don’t mind Bovril but personally I prefer Marmite – Marmite, I said…not Vegemite, thank you very much!

  3. Oh dear, I have never had Bovril before. But looking at your noodles, I am sure I will love it as I love beef and anything beefy. Hmm…should buy a bottle of Bovril 🙂

    Go ahead. It is nice! I am pretty sure you will not regret it – but go for the dry version. It’s nicer.

  4. oh yeah, the dry one looks even more yummy!! but of course, i’m greedier, i want both the stew beef from the soup version and the fried egg from the dry version to go with my bovril meesua~~ 😀

    No problem – all condiments will depend on your whims and fancies… Up to you to add what you like.

  5. The dry version bovril mee sua looks perfectly well. It has been ages since I last tasted bovril. My kids used to have it with porridge when they are small but now they dislike it. Bovril is very heaty but tastewise it is better than Marmite.

    I like Marmite more with porridge, but noodles, I prefer Bovril. Can give it a try. My friend in Bintangor bought a bottle and tried…and she had Bovril kampua every day till she finished the whole bottle!!! Fell in love instantly – like you and the masak kunyit fish or prawns. If not nice, where got I take the trouble to share and promote in my blog one?

  6. Never had bovril before, does it taste like Vegemite or Marmite? If so, i am not a fan of those things, i always find they have odd flavors 😡

    Not a fan of Vegemite – double thumbs down! Marmite’s nicer…but still, I think it is an acquired taste. My missus is not a fan, prefers Bovril…so instead of buying two bottles of both, we would just settle for Bovril since I’m ok with it…but with noodles, Bovril is definitely nicer.

  7. i have not try bovril before, normally try marmite….

    The dry bovril mee sua is soooooo tempting….

    Most people prefer Bovril – I am ok with both but with porridge, I think Marmite’s nicer.

  8. I would add a dash of pepper to my bovril soup. Fried rice with bovril…

    Yup, pepper’s optional…even with the dry version. Fried rice? Never tried…maybe I can do that one of these days and blog about it.

  9. My husband used Bovril to marinate chicken wings and then grilled them in oven. Nice la!

    I love both version of mee sua, but I think I prefer the soup type more.

    Bovril chicken wings? That should be nice. Marmite too. They say Marmite crabs sooooooo nice but I’ve never tried. 😦

  10. It been ages since I last tasted Bovril…
    I don’t remember if I had Bovril as a soup before but I definitely had Bovril hot drink!
    A spoonful of Bovril in a glass, add hot water, kacau and drink up

    Wow! You drank it like that? I guess it was not so expensive then – at the prices these days, one whole big bottle over RM20-30 will be gone in no time at all.

    Btw, thanks for dropping by and a warm welcome. Do come again…

  11. Bovril, my favourite, no marmite or vegemite, i am very loyal to Bovril. hahahha..I grown up by eating Bovril, either eat it with porridge or cook it with mee suah or mee poh, but i never try the soup version or drink it. I don’t know why, but i find it “geli” to drink like that. hahahahhaha. I still need my proper soup. 😛

    Why geli? Not bad leh – not too thick, nice light soup. Maybe you do not like the colour – so black. Shereen’s the opposite – she likes black things. Muahahahahahaha!!!!!

  12. Bovril! Think I haven’t eat it for years already!!

    Why? Since the mad cow disease? They have the ones without beef now – suitable for vegetarians.

  13. I never had Bovril.. always Marmite.. but i did make Marmite soup last time when I’m young… hehehe..

    I used to like Marmite more and I liked the soup too…but since I got married and my missus does not like Marmite, we’ve settled for Bovril and after eating it for a long time, I am ok with it – not craving for Marmite any longer. At one time, had to buy two bottles – one for me, one for my missus… 😦

  14. As kids we also used to have bovril soup with an egg thrown into it like ‘egg flower’ to make it more yummy!

    I never had that. We had egg purse in red wine & ginger soup…to eat with mee sua – my daughter loves this.

  15. I didn’t know Bovril could be eaten in other ways than with porridge until I saw my FIL made his own soup on days where there’s no soup, just like you but he ain’t Foo Chow but a Cantonese and that makes me wonder who started this “recipe” first. 😉

    Haven’t got the slightest idea…but it does seem like drinking soup at meals is a Chinese thing in those times, simply a must.

  16. I didn’t know Bovril could be eaten in other ways than with porridge until I saw my FIL made his own soup on days where there’s no soup, just like you but he ain’t Foo Chow but a Cantonese and that makes me wonder who started this “recipe” first. 😉

    Oooooopssss!!!! So you and Kelly are the same person? Never mind, the more the merrier! 😉

  17. I love it as a base for my egg sandwiches.

    Lovely for quickie soups.

    Makes lovely macaroni with a bit of meat thrown in if you wish.

    Oh? I wonder what how the recipe goes. Thinking of cooking macaroni for my daughter when she comes back – have not decided on how yet. I used to use it as a spread when eating bread…when I was small but not anymore. With egg, eh? Maybe I can give it a try.

  18. I did ask my Mom regarding Bovril, and she mentioned that back in the old days, folks in her hometown would eat it with porridge whenever they weren’t feeling too well.

    I, on the other hand, don’t have the chance of tasting it just yet.

    Yes, at one time, I did not like porridge. Every time I ate porridge, I would feel sick – psychological as that would be what we ate when sick. Now I’ve got over it…so I do like porridge now…and I’m fine with Bovril!

  19. I tried with Marmite instead of Bovril, not that nice. Perhaps, Bovril taste better.

    For mee sua or noodles, definitely Bovril is nicer…plus Marmite is hard, not easy to toss evenly.

  20. ooo, i guess i definitely don’t have any foochow genes in me, since i’m generally not a fan of soups. the dry bovril mee sua looks great though … i can imagine breaking the yolk, mixing it all up with the savory noodles, and slurrrrrrrrrpppsssss. blisssssss 😀

    Come, come to Sibu and I’ll make sure you get to eat that. You’re so “banana” – yellow outside, white inside… You don’t like those western soups either? I do enjoy some of them.

  21. The last time I looked at the Bovril label, the word “beef” never appears.

    It’s on the label, the top right hand corner – IF it is there…but the people at the shops here are very crafty – they stick all the price tags and what not there so you will not see whether it is the beef or non-beef version (and I guess they sell both at the same price)…and when you try to peel off the tags, the paper comes off. Business people, all the same lah….

    1. May be there are 2 different versions, one with beef and the other without. I got one and it doesn’t taste anything like the Bovril of before, just salty. So I took a closer look at the tiny “contents” section of the label and didn’t see the word “beef”.

      Yup..you’ll see “yeast extract”, same as Marmite. Not easy to find the beef ones these days. Will just have to get used to these vegetarian ones now.

  22. Hi Arthur, I had Bovril/Marmite only with porridge but I know of someone who use it as spread for bread and swears by it.

    Yes, same thing as how the Aussies would swear by their Vegemite sandwich:
    “…Buying bread from a man in Brussels
    He was six-foot-four and full of muscles
    I said, “Do you speak-a my language?”
    He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich
    …”
    (Down Under – Men-at-work)

  23. that sure is easy to do and it looks pretty amazing i always believed that the
    more colorful the dish are the more tastier it would be

    Not necessarily. Don’t be fooled by nice presentations and likewise, don’t be misled by good looks. Appearance can be deceptive.

  24. Bovril soup OMG!!! I love it then and love it now. Sometimes I still use it as soup if I’m too lazy to make a proper soup for dinner and as I was brought up in a Foochow family, soup is certainly a must for every meal, even for my chap-chai ang-mo/Malaysian family. I also use Bovril as a sauce base for making kam-pua like noodles with mee sua or those maggie-mee type noodles. I even keep a bottle of squeezee Bovril (we have them here) in my drawer in the office for a hot cup of drink during winter. Apparently, it’s common to have Bovril as a beverage when one is sailing in olden days in Britain, so I’ve been told. I love Bovril so much I could go on & on and even write an ode to Bovril 🙂 Sorry, I’m getting carried away…. thanks for the post, BTW.

    Ah!!!! Looks like you use it in all the same ways…except that I don’t make drinks out of it, just soup.

  25. Hi Mr STP.. have been your silent reader for a while.. enjoy reading your simple and yummy posts.. I have never tried Bovril as I believe it contains beef.. so I have only taken Marmite when I’m young.. I have not bought Marmite for years.. it will be on my shoplist later.. I missed the marmite soup.. and thanks for the simple recipe of mee suah with marmite soup.. will definitely cook it one of these days.. Guess is time for me to intro this food to my kids now.. haha but not sure if they will enjoy marmite soup like their mom.. thanks for bringing back my childhood memories

    I love Marmite with porridge and Marmite soup too. They say Marmite crab or Marmite chicken are all very nice but I have never had the chance to try yet. I have not tried Marmite with mee sua or noodles…as I do not have any in the house – my missus does not like it so we do not buy and my girl prefers Bovril too. I’ve tossed mee sua with Vegemite (the dry version of the noodles)…but it was not really nice – but Vegemite in itself isn’t so nice, not as nice as Marmite. I guess you can try and let me know if it is any good.

    Thanks for dropping by to comment and thanks for your support. Glad you like what you see here – do keep coming whenever you can, appreciate your company.

  26. tempting!!!

    hmm i’m not a good cook but grandma and mum told me that MSG can be replaced with sugar..

    what say you?

    Yes, Malays used to cook with sugar – they never used msg before…only now and double thumbs down! They do put a lot too…and I think I prefer it without – like in the good ol’ days.

    1. Yeah.. nowadays if i eat outside, sure i will drink a lot of water at home. feel so thirsty if they put MSG

      Yup, do like what I usually do – when ordering tell them to kurangkan msg at least by half. If that place uses a lot, I will not go back there again.

      1. hehe the problem is i do not know whether they put a lot or a little.. i only will know about it when i reach home.

        Yup, but if the food is nice…then you can always go again but the next time around, tell them to use less. Some here will reduce but still a bit too much for my liking – I would just stop going eventually.

  27. I like it this way too! Always the dry version, not a big fan of the soup version.

    Heng Huas (at least my grandma) just toss it with fried shallots and lard and eat it with dishes during CNY. It’s delicious like that too! 🙂

    Oh? In that case, it is something like kampua, except that mee sua is used. Should be nice too.

  28. Only remember having it in porridge when young, have not bought my own Bovril but I have a small bottle of Vegemite in the fridge, haha!

    I still have my unfinished bottle of Vegemite in the fridge too… 😦

  29. hahah..me would preferred the soup version while the boss like dry ones

    Your boss has better taste…like me. That’s why we’re the same shape and size. Hehehehehehehe!!!!!

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at sibutuapui@yahoo.com

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