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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Mi Vit Tiem Chay (Vietnamese Egg Noodle Soup with Chinese Five-Spice Vegetarian "Duck")

Mi Vit Tiem Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Chinese Five-Spice Duck Soup with Egg Noodles) 1

Mi Vit Tiem is a Vietnamese egg noodle soup with duck that's been seared and cooked with Chinese spices. It's not terribly difficult to make, although it does take a while to simmer until the duck is tender.

I made a quick vegetarian version instead. Mi Vit Tiem Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Chinese Five-Spice "Duck" Soup with Egg Noodles). But wait, did I forget I was making a vegetarian soup? It looks like I have duck in my bowl?

Actually, it's vegetarian duck.

What's that you ask? Look closely at the picture below.

Mi Vit Tiem Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Chinese Five-Spice Duck Soup with Egg Noodles) 2

It's "mock duck," made from fried wheat gluten. And it seriously has similar taste and texture to real duck meat. "Mock duck" is a staple of vegetarian Chinese and Vietnamese Buddhist cuisine. In the West, wheat gluten is often referred to as "seitan," but I think the Chinese and Vietnamese versions are much better in taste and appearance.

Mi Vit Tiem Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Chinese Five-Spice Duck Soup with Egg Noodles) 3

This can was about $1 at the San Gabriel Superstore and provided enough "duck" for a 3-quart pot of soup.

Mi Vit Tiem Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Chinese Five-Spice Duck Soup with Egg Noodles) 4

The ingredients are fried gluten, salt, sugar, soy sauce, and soybean oil.

Mi Vit Tiem Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Chinese Five-Spice Duck Soup with Egg Noodles) 5

The color and taste is largely derived from being cooked in soy sauce. It's ready to eat straight out of the can, but can also be prepared in any dish in which you'd use regular duck meat.

Mi Vit Tiem Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Chinese Five-Spice Duck Soup with Egg Noodles) 6

See how it even shreds like real meat?

Mi Vit Tiem Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Chinese Five-Spice Duck Soup with Egg Noodles) 7

So when Wiffy of Noob Cook, host of last month's Weekend Wokking broccoli round-up, announced the MUSHROOM for this month's challenge, I figured it was a good opportunity to make a vegetarian version of mi vit tiem. The keys to a flavorful soup are the dried shiitake mushrooms and dried bamboo shoots in the broth.

Since this is the vegetarian version, there's much less simmer time because I'm not tenderizing real duck meat. I've added a bit of Chinese five-spice powder to up the flavor, although I used whole star-anise pods too.

Mi Vit Tiem Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Chinese Five-Spice Duck Soup with Egg Noodles) 8

Mi Vit Tiem Chay (Vietnamese Egg Noodle Soup with Chinese Five-Spice Vegetarian "Duck")

For a 3-quart pot, you'll need:
1 Can "mock duck"
1 Large onion
10 Dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in water
10 Dried Bamboo Shoots, soaked in water
1 3-inch knob of ginger, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 Package thin egg noodles
3 Star anise
1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1 tblsp soy sauce, or more according to taste
1 tblsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce), use vegetarian version if you wish
1 tsp sugar

Optional for garnish: bean sprouts, chopped scallions, greens such as cilantro, parsley, watercress, or sliced lettuce

Fill a 5-quart stock pot about halfway with water and set on the stove to boil. Toss in 1 large onion, 3 star anise pods, the slices of ginger, 1 tsp sugar, and 1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder.

Soak about 10 dried shiitake mushrooms in hot water for about 5 minutes. When the mushrooms have softened, snip off the stem with a pair of scissors. Wash the mushrooms to remove any excess dirt and slice them in half. Add the mushrooms to the pot.

Cut dried bamboo shoots into about 3-inch long pieces and add them to the pot too.

Let the stock simmer for about 15 minutes on medium heat.

Meanwhile, open the can of mock duck and quickly rinse and lightly squeeze the pieces to remove excess gluten. Place the pieces in a shallow bowl and add 1 tblsp soy sauce. Set aside.

The stock should be quite dark and somewhat flavorful by now. Add the mock duck along with any remaining soy sauce from the bowl. Taste the stock, adding about 1 tblsp of fish sauce or more if necessary. Let simmer for a few minutes more while you boil the water to cook the egg noodles.

To serve, layer a bowl with the egg noodles. Spoon broth, mock duck, shiitake mushrooms, and bamboo shoots over the noodles. Garnish with whatever greens you'd like.

Mi Vit Tiem Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Chinese Five-Spice Duck Soup with Egg Noodles) 9

A hearty vegetarian soup. You won't even miss the meat.

Mi Vit Tiem Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Chinese Five-Spice Duck Soup with Egg Noodles) 10


Who made my recipe for mi vit tiem chay?
My College Kitchen said, "...this recipe is good for us, satisfied. I say two thumbs up!!"

I'm submitting this recipe to Weekend Wokking, a world-wide food blogging event created by Wandering Chopsticks to celebrate the multiple ways we can cook one ingredient. This month's secret ingredient is the MUSHROOM. The host for January is Marija of Palachinka. Check out the mushroom round-up for 12 recipes.

If you'd like to participate or to see the secret ingredient, check who's hosting next month. There's an opening for May, so if you've participated in the past and would like to host, please email me.

Since we're celebrating mushrooms this month, my other mushroom recipes:
Canh Bi/Bau Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Pork-Stuffed Winter Melon Soup)
Ca Chua Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Tomatoes)
Cha Gio/Nem Ran (Vietnamese Egg Rolls)
Cha Gio Bap/Ram Bap (Vietnamese Corn Egg Rolls)
Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken Pot Pie with Cilantro Biscuits
Chinese Hot and Sour Soup
Coq au Vin (French Chicken with Wine)
Cream of Four Mushroom Soup
Farfalle with Oven-Dried Tomatoes, Mushrooms, and Corn
Mi Hoanh Thanh (Vietnamese Wonton Noodle Soup)
Mi Xao Don Thit Bo (Vietnamese Crispy Chow Mein with Beef)
Mushroom Risotto with Jasmine Rice
Pho Ap Chao Bo (Vietnamese Pan-Fried Rice Noodles Sauteed with Beef)
Quattro Porcini Pasta (Four Mushroom Pasta)
Tom Kha Gai (Thai Galangal and Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk)
Turkey Tetrazzini

1 year ago today, Bo Nuong La Lot (Vietnamese Grilled Beef with Wild Betel Leaves).
2 years ago today, Porto's Bakery - Glendale.


  1. I realized there was a catch somewhere with the meat :) I even enlarged the image, but that "duck" was made perfectly. It even has skin! Amazing entry!

  2. I see "vegetarian meats" in some Chinese menus but I never tried it. This one looks very real, maybe a little too real... :)

  3. I had a mock sweet and sour pork at a vegetarian Chinese restaurant before. It was good but I couldn't figure out for the life of me what it was made of. Now I'm thinking fried seitan, like the mock duck.

    I love learning new things!

  4. your ww entry is always so unique. I like the look of this vegetarian dish. the mock duck even comes with shreds =D

  5. The duck skin look sooo real!!! I had this before but using real duck meat. Very tasty!

  6. WC
    Thanks for the recipe!! I was just thinking about Mi Vit Tiem the other week. I didn't know there's such a real vegetarian version of the duck - where can I find it? the usual Ranch 99 market? I'll keep this ingredient list in mind next time I do grocery shopping.
    Will report back how it turns out :-)

  7. Way back in the day when I was vego, I found mock meats really strange (well, guess I still do though I like them). Um used to regularly take me to Buddhist temple restaurants where they served up wedding style banquets of meat-free dishes, but all in mockery: cold cuts of gluten, roast mock duck, mock lobster etc. It was amazing, but weird.

    I don't think I'll find mock meats round where I live! Except for quorn. There's lots of that about.

  8. I love vegetarian "meats" like this. The duck looks awefully real like real duck, and I think I'd rather pay for a bowl of soup like this than that from inside the Bellagio. :)

  9. I have seen veggie liver and fish, but never duck! The mock duck looks really real and looks like it has been "cooked" for a very long time.

    The photos look great! Every color and component is extremely vibrant and stands out. Great shot!

    I would pay for a bowl like this rather than some bowl of noodle from a hotel in Las Vegas. Many of them are really bad, with a exception of several.

  10. "duck" meat is my favorite choice of mock meat. however, most of the time, i'd prefer spicy-no mock meat-non chinese vegetarian dishes...such as curries

    the company i work for is a vegetarian company. thus, we are served vegetarian food in company events. if they chose chinese vegetarian food...we sighed in unison...tofu-mushroom-veggie or veggie-mushroom-tofu combo?...plus mock meat or taro once in a while, all with similar tofu-ish flavors. T_T

  11. Marija,
    I wondered if I fooled you when I sent in that photo. :)

    My second-youngest uncle said these meats are bad if you're a vegetarian for humanitarian reasons b/c your eyes still see the "meat."

    Definitely. The Chinese do lots of fun things with faux meat.

    My sister was all weirded out by the skin too.

    I was amazed at how much the mock duck shreds like real meat.

    I was too lazy to make it with real duck meat. I guess I could have cheated and used roast duck, but I felt like playing with my food instead.

    My College Kitchen,
    I bought mine at the SG Superstore. I edited the post to include the link.

    I used to eat vegetarian when I took my ba noi to temple too. It was always good food, even without any meat.

    Do you want some? There's some dried mock meats I can send you. I know quorn is trendy, but it's also a fungus?

    Haha. You can't expect good Asian food inside the Bellagio. ;)

    I don't think I've seen vegetarian liver. Fish, yes. That's coming up. :)

    I didn't know you worked for a vegetarian company. Very cool! Haha. But yeah, it is a lot of tofu, mushroom, and veggies.

  12. Thanks for the offer to send, but I'm happy not eating mock meats over here. Quorn's quite tasty, actually. I've found them the best of the non-Asian meat alternatives (which we eat even though we're both carnivorous these days!)

  13. Oanh,
    Fine then! No mock meats for you! :)

  14. The mock-duck looks cute. I love how they stamped it to look like skin. It's strangely compelling. Hee.

  15. JS,
    The skin really freaked my sister out. She kept staring at it. :P

  16. I looked up your recipe and made Mi Vit Tiem, it was good! It soo satisfied my cravings .LOL. But i was too greedy (or lazy) and used too much dried bamboo, will scale it down next time. I'd love to read up on more of your vegetarian recipes

  17. My College Kitchen,
    Yay! Glad you liked it. I like bamboo a lot too, but dried bamboo is much stronger in taste so be careful not to overdo it.

    I'm trying to do more vegetarian recipes. :)

  18. Hi Wandering Chopsticks!

    I'm vegetarian and I used this recipe for my roommates (who aren't) and we all loved it! I hope you will have time to make more veggie options! Thanks so much :D

  19. XXsonatinaxx,
    Thanks for the reminder. I do have other vegetarian recipes that I still need to post! So glad you and the meat eaters liked it.


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