Here's how I make my canh to be flavorful yet light and clear like what you see below.
How to Make Broth for Canh (Vietnamese Soups)
About 1 lb of meat and/or bones for a 2-quart pot of water
1 tsp salt, or more according to taste
Optional: For flavoring, dried dates, scallops, shrimp, squid, and/or fish sauce.
Wash and clean your meat. Place meat in a pot of water, fill pot to about 80 percent full. Add about 1 tsp of salt. Turn heat to high and let water come to a full boil. Then turn the heat down to medium-low and let simmer for about half an hour. The low temperature simmer keeps the broth clear.
Conversely, if you want a milky broth, then keep the heat on medium-high at a light roiling boil to extract maximum flavor from the bones.
You'll start seeing foam and other impurities on the surface of the water like what you see below. If you're using meat with bones, there will be more gunk.
Spoon off the foam into a separate bowl and toss. You can use a normal spoon if that's all you have, but I prefer this skimmer spoon. Notice the very fine mesh? It's excellent for getting every last bit of foamy gunk. I bought my spoon at the San Gabriel Superstore for about $3. Worth every penny.
After skimming the foam, you'll end up with a nice clear broth like what you see below. Remove the meat if you wish. Since I'm slicing the pork for goi cuon, I do. But if you're using meat with bones, you may also leave the meat in the pot if you like to gnaw on the bones.
Now it's time to flavor the broth. Depending on what type of soup you're making, you may add any or none of the following variations. Many times, the other ingredients you add to the soup will give plenty of flavor on their own. But there's a handful of single-ingredient canh in which the broth is just as important as the one ingredient.
Can you guess what I added?
Dried dates will add just a touch of natural sweetness without having to resort to sugar.
Or for natural umami savoriness, you can add dried squid, shrimp, or scallops. These ingredients should be added to the soup pot when you add your meat so the flavors get released while it's simmering. Even though they're already dried, I store mine in the freezer and they last forever that way.
And let's not forget the most essential umami seasoning ingredient of all - nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce). Start with 1 tsp at a time, stir into the broth, taste and adjust if necessary.
What are your tricks for achieving a light and flavorful broth?
My canh recipes:
Canh Bap Cai Bac Thao (Vietnamese Napa Cabbage Soup)
Canh Bi Voi Tom (Winter Melon Soup with Shrimp)
Canh Bi/Bau Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Pork-Stuffed Winter Melon Soup)
Canh Chua Ca (Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup)
Canh Chua Tom (Vietnamese Sour Shrimp Soup)
Canh Cu Sen (Vietnamese Lotus Root Soup)
Sup Mang Tay Cua (Vietnamese Asparagus and Crab Soup)
1 year ago today, Ga Nuong Xa (Vietnamese Grilled Chicken with Lemongrass).