Blame it on the cold November winter, but I started thinking of chicken noodle soup. No, not the American chicken noodle soup, nor the more popular Vietnamese version -- Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup). I wanted the "other" Vietnamese chicken noodle soup -- Bun Thang (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Chicken, Egg, and Pork), mostly because I didn't want to wait forever for the broth to be just right.
Bun thang is a Northern Vietnamese noodle soup, which never really caught on as far as I could tell from the dearth of it on Vietnamese restaurant menus. Ack! For all my professions of being a South-Central Coastal girl, more and more Hanoi dishes keep creeping into my repertoire. Don't worry, I can't speak Vietnamese with any ZZZs to save my life. :P (Hehe. Inside joke for Vietnamese. Northerners pronounce one of the D's, and their G's, R's, and TR's like Z so hearing them speak sounds like ZZZ to me.)
Actually, calling it the "other" chicken noodle soup is a bit of a misnomer, bun thang uses a combination of chicken and pork for the broth and in the soup. Ideally, I'd use pork spare ribs for the best flavor, but only had some boneless pork on hand that evening. I boiled the pork with some chicken thighs, furiously on high heat to extract maximum flavor as quickly as possible. Then shredded the chicken meat. Made a super thin omelet. Sliced some of my mom's homemade cha lua (Vietnamese steamed pork loaf). Chopped some herbs on top. Snapped a few quick, boring shots of the same bowl in the same position, with no food props, and I was good to go. Oh dear. That was supposed to be my version of a quick weeknight dinner. :P It really was. I promise.
Like my holiday bowl? It was free! Every once in a while, Kohl's sends me a coupon for $10 free with no minimum purchase required. I spent a few dollars over that getting this bowl and a Pyrex pan with rubber lid. The next time, I spent quite a bit over that on a black cashmere argyle cardigan, so those advertisers know what they're doing. And a third time, I got a plain black T-shirt, a fish-shaped bowl, and a napkin for only a few cents over. Pretty nifty! Aren't you impressed with my bargain-hunting skills?
Bun Thang (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Chicken, Eggs, and Pork)
For about 4 servings, you'll need:
2 chicken thighs or breasts
1/2 lb pork spare ribs
2 tsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)
1 tsp salt
1 egg, made into a thin omelet and thinly sliced
Cha Lua (Vietnamese Steamed Pork Loaf), thinly sliced
1 1-lb package bun (Vietnamese rice vermicelli noodles)
Chopped herbs for garnishing
Wash the chicken and pork. Cut the spare ribs into individual sections. Set aside.
Add 3 quarts of water to a 5-quart stock pot and turn the heat to high. When the water boils, add the chicken and pork. Turn the heat to medium-high and let it continue boiling for about half an hour. This is to extract as much flavor as possible in a short time. If you're not short on time, you can let the meat simmer at a lower heat for a longer period for a clearer broth. Add 1 tsp salt and 2 tsp fish sauce.
Meanwhile, beat 1 egg and make a thin omelet. Just use a regular-sized pan and the omelet will naturally be thin as it spreads.
Roll up the omelet and thinly slice.
Thinly slice the steamed pork loaf.
Roughly chop the herbs.
Boil the noodles.
By now, the broth should be ready. Taste and adjust if necessary. Spoon off the scum from the surface of the broth.
Fish out the chicken and shred the meat from the bones. Set aside.
Put the noodles at the bottom of the bowl and spoon the broth and pork. Top with the shredded chicken, thinly sliced cha lua, and sliced omelet. Add some herbs if you wish.
Other Vietnamese noodle soups:
Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese Hue-Style Beef Noodle Soup)
Bun Nuoc Leo Soc Trang (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli Noodle Soup in Savory Broth with Fish, Roast Pork, and Shrimp)
Bun Rieu Cua Tom Oc (Vietnamese Crab and Shrimp Rice Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Snails)
Crock Pot Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)
Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Soup with Barbecued Pork and Shrimp)
Mi Hoanh Thanh (Vietnamese Wonton Noodle Soup)
Mi Vit Tiem Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Duck Chinese Five-Spice "Duck" Egg Noodle Soup)
Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup)
Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)
1 year ago today, Thai Red Curry with Roast Duck, Bamboo Shoots, Eggplant, and Pumpkin.
2 years ago today, Mahan Indian Restaurant - Alhambra.
3 years ago today, Macau Street - Monterey Park (Closed).