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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hu Tiu/Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Soup with Barbecued Pork and Shrimp)

Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Barbecued Pork and Shrimp Soup) 1

Where were we?

Right. I bribed Tony of SinoSoul and his better half over so he could make my food look good. Tell me that photo doesn't make you want to lick the screen? Considering Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Soup with Barbecued Pork and Shrimp) is one of my and lil' sis's favorite dishes, I couldn't bring myself to post this recipe with my previous photos. So it languished in the queue waiting and waiting.

The cooking was the easy part. Making my food look as good as I'd like, well, I gladly take offers of assistance.

When he came over, Tony asked what time I started cooking. I think he thinks I slaved away all day in the kitchen or something. Far from it. I'm probably the worst hostess because my guests always have to work for their supper.

Just so you know how easy this recipe is, the whole meal came together in less than 2 hours, and that includes grocery shopping time. The key is using a combination of dried squid and shrimp to flavor the porky broth. The dried seafood is so concentrated with umami that about half an hour of simmering is all that's needed to bring out the flavors. Now, certainly you can let the stock simmer for longer, just saying it can be ready in the amount of time it takes to prepare the rest of the meal.

Hu tieu Saigon is a Southern, Chinese-influenced dish, which you can see in the use of Char Siu/Xa Siu (Chinese Barbecued Pork). The shrimp can be boiled or grilled. I just toss it into the pot to cook at the end for simplicity. Served with chewy clear noodles. Hu tiu (seems like Vietnamese people just can't agree on the spelling) can be eaten as a soup like in the top photo below, or dry with broth on the side, like the photo on bottom.

Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Barbecued Pork and Shrimp Soup) 2

Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Barbecued Pork and Shrimp Soup) 3

Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Soup with Barbecued Pork and Shrimp)

For 4 servings, you'll need:

1 lb pork neck or soup bones
About a dozen or more shrimp, peeled and deveined. Save the shells for stock.
1 dried squid
About a dozen small dried shrimp
1 tblsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)
1 tsp salt
1 package hu tieu or broad bean thread noodles

For serving:
Xa Xiu (Chinese Barbecued Pork)
Hanh Phi (Vietnamese Fried Shallots)
Romaine or green lettuce, slice about 2 inches wide
Chinese celery, slice about 2 inches long
Garlic chives, slice about 2 inches long
An assortment of Vietnamese herbs, if you'd like

Hu tiu noodles are made from tapioca, not rice flour. That gives them the translucence and chewiness. I don't have a preferred brand, but do look for the words hu tiu/tieu dai, which means chewy tapioca noodles.

Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Barbecued Pork and Shrimp Soup) 4

After boiling, they'll look like this.

Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Barbecued Pork and Shrimp Soup) 5

But lately, and even better, if you're trying to watch your carb intake, my youngest aunt introduced me to broad bean thread noodles. They're made from green beans/mung beans, the same as vermicelli noodles, but wider.

Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Barbecued Pork and Shrimp Soup) 6

They look just like hu tieu noodles.

Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Barbecued Pork and Shrimp Soup) 7

But have an even lovelier translucence and chewiness. And low in carbohydrates! Like other legumes, mung beans have low digestible carbs, only 4.4 g in 1 cup. They take longer to digest and the high soluble fiber content makes them low on the glycemic index.

Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Barbecued Pork and Shrimp Soup) 8

Now, supposing you try and be like me and do your grocery shopping and cook this all within the space of a few hours...

First thing you do when you get home is make the Xa Xiu (Chinese Barbecued Pork) because it needs at least an hour in the oven.

Then fill a 5-quart pot of water to about three-quarters full. Toss in the cleaned pork neck bones, a dried squid, and about a dozen dried shrimp. See my primer on how to make Canh (Vietnamese Soup Broth) if you don't know. Add about 1 tsp salt and 1 tblsp fish sauce.

Then peel and devein about a dozen shrimp. Wash the shells and toss those into the pot as well. Put the cleaned shrimp in cold water with about 1/2 tsp salt and set it aside in the fridge. This will keep the shrimp firm until you're ready to cook it.

Meanwhile, wash and chop some lettuce and finely chop some garlic chives. Boil the noodles and drain them into a colander.

Check on the stock. Skim the scum. Taste. Is it ready?

Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Barbecued Pork and Shrimp Soup) 9

Scoop out the pork, squid, and shrimp into a bowl. If you like to gnaw on the bones, by all means, do so.

Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Barbecued Pork and Shrimp Soup) 10

When the stock is cleared of any debris, drain, and toss in the shrimp that was set aside earlier. It should cook in just a few minutes.

Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Barbecued Pork and Shrimp Soup) 11

Decide if you want to serve this as a soup or with soup on the side. Fill each bowl with lettuce, noodles, pork, shrimp, Chinese celery, garlic chives, fried shallots, and then pour the broth on top.

Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Barbecued Pork and Shrimp Soup) 12

I love these translucent, chewy noodles.

Hu Tieu Saigon (Vietnamese Clear Noodle Barbecued Pork and Shrimp Soup) 13

At some point in the midst of all this, I also prepared the Goi Mit Non Tom Thit Heo (Vietnamese Green Jackfruit Salad with Pork and Shrimp). OK, not me alone. Tony's better half did a lot of the chopping and washed my dishes in between. And Tony snapped pictures of the jackfruit salad while we were preparing the soup. And then he snapped photos of the soup while his better half hovered with her belly growling. But still, you're impressed I made this so quickly? Yes?

Much thanks again to Tony of SinoSoul for the gorgeous photos! My camera, it loves him more than it loves me.

My other Vietnamese noodle soups you might like:
Bun Bo Hue (Vietnamese Hue-Style Beef Noodle Soup)
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)

Because it's been a while, and because of those lovely translucent noodles made out of mung beans, I'm submitting this recipe to Weekend Herb Blogging, a world-wide food blogging event created by Kalyn's Kitchen celebrating herbs, vegetables, or flowers. WHB is now managed by Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once. If you'd like to participate, see who's hosting WHB? This week, WHB is hosted by Marija of Palachinka.

1 year ago today, what a coincidence! I swear I didn't realize this until after I wrote this recipe. Part 11 of my How to Start a Food Blog series - Building Traffic: Participate in the Community and Respond to Your Stats.
2 years ago today, Pollo alla Parmagiana (Italian Chicken Parmesan).


  1. Wow, this looks fantastic. I'm writing down the name of the noodles. I need to go to the Asian market here anyway to see if I can find Three Crabs Fish Sauce. Hope to be coming to LA soon, within a month or two, so look forward to seeing you.

  2. Yup, I ate that too!

    I think my camera hates me.

  3. Oooh! This looks more than fantastic! The arrangement, the bowl, the dish itself! Thank you so much for sending it to the whb!

  4. Well, if Tony thinks his camera hates him but your camera loves him... do I see a trade in the near future? That bowl looks scrumptious. Hu tieu is something I've neglected in the last several years (because I'm a pho addict, okay?) so it's high time I tried making some. Thanks for the step-by-step!

  5. That loos like the perfect comfort food for any of the cold days ahead... especially if it's as easy to put together!

  6. I love that type of noodle, it's so much fun to eat. This soup is a perfect pairing to enjoy the noodles.

  7. Yes, you made me want to lick the screen! Oh my goodness... that looks like it tastes and smells wonderful! I am going to make it tomororw! Thanks for another great post!

  8. I licked the screen. Honest I did. The chilli sauce, the noodles, the shrimp....I want it NOW www kitchenbutterfly com

  9. Looks great! I just came back from Hanoi and am already missing the street food. This brings back "yummy" thoughts.

  10. that broth looks so great and clear. dried things always give so much flavor. drop a dried scallop into a pot of water and you have everything you need. Sweet.

    Cant wait to make

  11. Kalyn,
    Can't wait until you visit! Lots of food to show you.

    My camera loves you, so does that make it even?

    Thanks! I couldn't believe how nicely all the colors popped up.

    Well, our arrangement seems to be I cook, he photographs, and we all eat. Works for me. :P

    Chocolate Shavings,
    Funny, I've always thought of hu tieu as a summer dish!

    I love the chewiness of the noodles. Yum. Yum.

    I aim to please. ;)

    Haha. How did the screen taste? :P

    Hmm. This is actually more common in the South as it's a Chinese-influenced dish.

    I know, right? All I needed were a few dried shrimp and the squid and that was enough for the whole pot.

  12. This noodle soup looks delicious! I don't think I have had one in a restaurant that even look close to yours. Compliments. :-)

  13. Is this hu tieu my tho? It's my favouriteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee dish. I order it 99% of the time when I eat at Viet restaurants. omg. I must show this to my mom. She doesn't know how to make it. :(

  14. Self Sagacity,
    Thanks! I'm pretty darn proud of how delicious this looks as well. Not that I'm vain about it or anything. :P

    The Little Dust Princess,
    No, it's hu tieu Saigon. My Tho has some mi and other meats too. Or the versions I've had in My Tho did anyway. You can make it yourself! No need to rely on mom when the recipe is right here. :)

  15. Thanks for the recipe! Been looking for a good recipe for a while.

  16. just Beverly,
    You just reminded me that I haven't made hu tieu in a long while too.

  17. Looks amazing! I can't wait to try this recipe! You make it look so easy! Again I just wanted to say thank you for teaching me what my mom refuses to teach me.

  18. Kittieekeke,
    It is easy. I should make hu tieu more often since it's one of my favorites.

  19. I came here from the link on fb today. =]
    I can make this dish for less time. I tend to improvise my cooking a lot for convenience because I have back pain - can't stand in the kitchen more than 2 hours, btw.
    For xa xiu, I cut pork in big (1" wide, 3" long) pieces and sauted them with the xa xiu seasoning package, extra salt if prefer, and enough water to cook until brown. Pork came out beautifully red and tasted better than the instruction on the package in less than 30 min and no need overnight marinating if we don't have time.
    For shrimp, I boiled them (do not over-boil) in the broth with shells on to keep them tasting sweeter. I peeled the shells after cooking. I quickly immersed shrimps in boiling broth for fresh/hot taste.
    Boy, I'm so cooking this tomorrow.

  20. CaChua,
    Of course cooking is faster with a packaged mix, but it's not a speed competition. You can make homemade xa xiu and there's no standing needed while it cooks in the oven.

  21. My daughters and I LOVE HU TIEU. There is ONLY ONE place we get it at in San Antonio, TX. We've been going there for years!!!! In fact, we have a "regular" table already and when the owner sees us walk in, she just gets our order ready so all we really need to decide is what to drink. Our "usual" is 2 orders of the Vietnamese Spring Rolls, 3 bowls of Hu Tieu, and extra Nuc Mam. She LOVES us!!! ;)<3.

  22. Raven,
    That's great. Having a regular spot with your favorite dish is the best!


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