Hanoi-Style Pork and Chicken Vermicelli Soup (Bún Chả Hà Nội)

>> Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Hanoi-Style Pork and Chicken Vermicelli Soup (Bún Chả Hà Nội)


Directly after college graduation, my classmate Melissa went to Vietnam to teach English in Ho Chi Minh City. I've been enjoying her posts on chickens fighting in the street, eating the formidable dragon fruit for lunch, and using the wall-less showers in the corner of apartment bathrooms. Little by little, I hear British phrases creeping into her vocabulary from her fellow teachers. It makes me want to store everything and go live somewhere tropical, especially during the ever-changing cold and damp spring here in Chicago.



Ah, our jobs keep us too busy to travel in the near future. Instead, Joe and I whipped up a savory bowl of this traditional soup from Hanoi. According to Vietnamese chef Eric Nguyen, this is popular street food in found only in that northern city. People eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We simplified his original recipe in the cookbook My Vietnam by using chili-garlic paste instead of a bird's eye chili, and instead of pork terrine, we added tofu that we needed to use up. This was fresh-tasting and satisfying, and the leftovers were just as good.

Ingredients

8 cups hot chicken broth
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp chili-garlic paste
2 tsp salt
3 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
3 oz pork fillet, cut into matchstick slices
4 oz firm tofu, cubed
9 oz dried rice vermicelli noodles
2 eggs
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp green onions, cut into matchstick slices
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup mint leaves
1 cup mung bean sprouts
Shrimp paste, to taste

Directions

In a large pot, stir together the chicken broth, sugar, fish sauce, garlic, chili-garlic paste, and salt. Bring to a boil, then drop in the chicken, tofu, and pork. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the meat and tofu to a bowl and keep it warm; keep the broth simmering until ready to serve.

Cook the vermicelli according to package directions, until it is barely tender. Rinse in cold water and allow it to drain, stirring to prevent it from sticking. Add a little oil if the noodles start to clump - rice noodles can be very sticky.

Slightly beat the eggs. Place a large non-stick frying pan on the stove and warm the oil. Pour about 1/4 of the egg into the pan in a thin layer. Cook for one minute, until just set, then flip it over and cook the other side. The egg should be very tender. Slide the egg off onto a cutting board. Repeat with the rest of the egg mixture, stacking the egg "pancakes" on the cutting board. Then roll the egg stack into a cylinder and cut it into thin slices.

a roll of egg "pancakes"


Cutting egg rolls


Ladle the broth into each person's bowl. At the table, let each guest add vermicelli, then the meats, then the egg strips. If desired, stir a little shrimp paste into the bowl. Top with green onions, mint, and bean sprouts, and provide extra fish sauce for dipping. Store leftovers separately so that the tofu and rice vermicelli don't get gummy by soaking in the broth.

Serves 4-6.

2 comments:

Vermicelli Soup April 25, 2013 at 11:58 PM  

Wow its simple. I tried it at home it came it delicious. The only change i have done is, i tried to fry vermicelli with ghee and then continued with your way.

the hungry lovers,  May 9, 2013 at 10:36 AM  

That sounds great! I will try it your way one of these days. Glad you liked the recipe.

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