21 June 2018

Guay Tiew Reua Thai Boat Noodles

Boat noodles is a very popular street food in Thailand 🇹🇭 In fact, noodles is a very big part of the food culture. I learnt that all types of noodles (whether rice noodles, glass noodles, egg noodles), they are all called Guay Tiew (same pronunciation) unlike in SG where Kuay Tiao means thick rice noodles. I still remember when I ordered my very first bowl of Guay Tiew, thinking that it's thick rice noodles, the hawker gave me "Sen Lek" which is very thin and slightly chewy. Sen Lek is somewhat like the default type of noodle hawkers would serve if you don't specify, or some stalls just serve "Sen Lek" only. Anyways, there's a whole lot of jargon to learn about ordering noodles, such as the type of noodles, soup or dry, type of broth, and we're not even talking about the fried ones. Well, I guess the same goes for SG where we have so many type of noodles as well.

I digress.

Anyways, Guay Tiew means noodles and Reua means Boat, so literally translates to Boat Noodles, I think because it's traditionally cooked and served on a boat, and hence the name. I love Boat Noodles as the broth is very aromatic and flavourful, plus I get to eat pig's blood which is no longer available in SG. I used to enjoy pig's organ soup during my teens because of the pig's blood. LOL! Nowadays, friends around my age who loves pig's blood still talk about it fondly and I guess we could only satisfy our craving or rather, relive the fond memories in Hong Kong or Thailand.

I digress again.

Back to the Thai Boat Noodles. And so, the very authentic stalls would use the liquid from pig's blood to thicken and flavour the soup broth  but sometimes they can be a little overwhelming on the palate. Some hawker stalls may also add MSG to the broth making the soup a tad too salty for my liking. That got me to think whether it's feasible to make the noodles soup at home. After searching on the internet for recipes, I found there are many variations to making the broth; some use beef bones and some use pork bones and different aromatics are used to season the soup. I decided to adapt from Hot Thai Kitchen's recipe as I find her youtube videos very informative and recipes easy to pick up.

Have tried cooking this a few times already, and I must say I love how my Boat Noodles turned out. So as mentioned, the broth is a key component, and homemade is even better because no MSG is added.

The recipe by Hot Thai Kitchen is such that the pig's blood is optional, that is it's not necessary to use the liquid to thicken the soup. The broth is already very aromatic and flavourful as it is. Trust me my soup tasted equally nice without the pig’s blood :p.

To serve, besides noodles of your choice, I included ingredients such as fishball, fishcake, marinated pork slices, bean sprouts and water spinach (kang kong), along with condiments like cilantro, spring onion, Thai basil, fried shallot & garlic, and finally a chilli vinegar dipping sauce.

Let's start with the soup broth preparation, which I usually cook one day in advance and let the flavours develop overnight.

Soup Broth
(makes 8 servings)


  • 4 pcs pork bones (about 950g)
  • 4 pcs chicken leg bones (optional, I use because I happen to have them)
  • 1 pc onion
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, lower white portion only
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 10 slices galangal
  • 1 pc star anise
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 3 pc cilantro roots
  • 2 pc pandan leaves
  • 9 cups water
  • 3 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Golden Mountain thai soy sauce (if don't have, just use light soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp tao jiew (yellow soy bean paste)
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 15g rock sugar
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • Sea salt, to taste (I didn't add)


  1. Blanch the pork and chicken bones to get rid of blood and dirt. Rinse and place them in a large stock pot. 
  2. Add onion, lemongrass, coriander seeds, garlic, galangal, star anise, cinnamon, cilantro roots, pandan leaves, water and chicken stock. Bring the pot of stock to boil then lower heat, cover and let it simmer for 2hrs. Use a fine sieve to remove any scums that float to the top of the stock from time to time.
  3. After 2hrs, add the seasonings - soy sauce, dark soy sauce, tao jiew, white vinegar, rock sugar and white pepper and simmer for another 1 hr. 
  4. After 1hr, taste the soup and add sea salt if required.
  5. Leave the soup stock in the pot overnight. *if stock is prepared early in the day, at night bring it to boil first, off heat and cover.
  6. The next day, strain and discard the ingredients. Boil the soup broth again and it's ready to use.

Now that the soup broth is ready, it's time to cook Boat Noodles!

Personally I prefer Sen Yai which is thick rice noodles like the hor fun we have in SG, my son likes Sen Yai as well, but a thinner version of it. As for the HB, he likes Sen Lek which is the thin noodles which is slightly chewy (not glass noodles). Luckily I can get all these at one hawker stall at the wet market I frequent.

Typical ingredients include marinated pork slices, fishball, fishcake, pig's blood (optional), bean sprout, water spinach (kang kong).

To serve, I have two separate pots, one is the soup broth and the other is water to cook the noodles and vegetables.

(1) Bring the soup broth to boil and cook the fishball, fishcake, marinated pork and pig's blood.
(2) Bring the other pot of water to boil, blanch the bean sprouts, water spinach till just cooked, drain and place them in individual bowls. Next cook the noodles briefly till just cooked, drain and add them on top of the vegetables.
(3) Scoop the fishball, fishcake, pork and pig's blood from the soup broth and arrange on the top of the noodles.
(4) Finally, scoop the soup broth into the bowl of noodles till the soup just cover the ingredients. Best serve hot!

Not forgetting condiments, the noodles are typically served with cilantro, spring onion, fried garlic, fried shallot, Thai basil and not forgetting, chilli vinegar dipping sauce which will add much kick to the Boat Noodles!

Chilli Vinegar Dipping Sauce - blend all the ingredients together. Start with minimal amount of chilli and add more according to preference.

  • 1-2 red chilli and thai chilli, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar

    Look at my bowl of noodles loaded with ingredients. LOL! That's the beauty of home cooked dishes. I think I cannot be a noodle seller; there's too much preparation work involved and I load my noodle soup with too much ingredients!

    Usually I will make a large pot of soup broth and eat it for a few meals (mainly because the ingredients are sold in large quantity and cannot use up within one meal). LOL! Anyway we don't mind since we enjoy this noodle soup a lot. Aroi Mak Mak!


    1. Love love this dish! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!