Sotanghon (vermicelli) soup with chicken and black fungus

Sotanghon (vermicelli) soup with chicken and black fungus |

Sotanghon (vermicelli), shredded chicken, chopped black fungus and vegetables are traditionally cooked together in the Philippines as a dry noodle dish. But my daughter, Sam, ever the soup lover (she takes after her father), prefers the soup version. As with the dry version, annatto seeds are used to add a golden red hue to this soup.

Wood ears can be substituted for black fungus. If using dried, they will need to be soaked first to rehydrate them. Then, trim them as you would fresh black fungus by cutting off the tough woody parts.


  • 1 chicken leg quarter
  • 1 chicken breast
  • a whole onion
  • half a garlic (that’s half of a whole bulb)
  • 1 tbsp. of peppercorns
  • 2 tbsps. of annatto (atsuwete) seeds
  • 3 tbsps. of cooking oil
  • 1 tbsp. of finely minced garlic
  • 3/4 c. of finely sliced onion
  • 3/4 c. of julienned carrot
  • 1 c. of chopped or sliced black fungus
  • 2 c. of shredded white cabbage
  • 250 g. of dried glass (cellophane) noodles
  • patis (fish sauce), to taste
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 c. of finely sliced scallions (onion leaves)
  • toasted garlic bits, to garnish


  1. Place the chicken in a large pot. Pour in about eight cups of water. Bring to the boil; skim off the scum as it rises. Add the whole onion, the garlic half, peppercorns and annatto seeds. Simmer for an hour.
  2. Scoop out the chicken from the broth. Strain the broth.
  3. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat.
  4. In a clean pot, heat the cooking oil.
  5. Saute the minced garlic and sliced onion until fragrant, about two minutes.
  6. Add the black fungus, julienned carrot and shredded cabbage.
  7. Pour in the strained broth. Season with fish sauce and black pepper. Bring to the boil.
  8. Add the dried noodles, pushing them down into the broth. Simmer until the noodles are done, about seven to 10 minutes.
  9. Add the shredded chicken meat. Stir. Adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Boil just until the chicken is heated through.
  10. Serve hot topped with the scallions and toasted garlic bits.

Quick notes

Another way to use the annatto seeds is to add them to the oil prior to sauteing. To do this, heat the oil gently (medium-low heat is ideal), add the annatto seeds and cook until the seeds have rendered color. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and proceed to saute.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6