Monday, February 14, 2011

Cookbook Challenge: Hanoi Pork and Vermicelli Noodle Soup [Week 3, Rice/Noodles]

Another late entry. I obviously have problems with deadlines. To be honest I actually had made a few things under the theme of rice/noodles over the past fortnight which include tang yuan and char kway teow which I was going to post for the cookbook challenge, but then I realised I didn't use a recipe for either so it wouldn't classify.

I decided to choose a recipe out of Luke Nguyen's The Songs of Sapa. Something that I had really considered doing as I only borrowed his book to read the writing, not for the recipes, it was a very good book. Very detailed and hard to put down. Read 3/4 of the book on the afternoon of a 40 degree day. I still like Secrets of Red Lantern better, I think it's because I can somehow relate to it better. 
I wanted to choose something simple, good for a cold rainy day and not something that everyone knows.

Like usual, anything in (brackets) is not in the original recipe, it's what I did/my suggestions.

Luke Nguyen's Hanoi Pork and Vermicelli Noodle Soup
Hanoi Pork and Vermicelli Noodle Soup
Ingredients: 3 dried wood ear mushrooms. 250g dried rice vermicelli noodles. 200g pork paste. 250ml vegetable oil. 2L chicken stock. 3tbs fish sauce. 2tsp sugar. 100g pork terrine sliced into batons. 100g fried pork terrine (cha que) thinly sliced. To serve: 2tsp garlic oil. 2tbs sliced spring onion green part only. 3tbs fried asian shallots. 1 large handful coriander leaves. 1 large handful mint leaves.  1 large handful Vietnamese mint leaves. 1 cup bean sprouts. Shrimp paste to taste (optional. 1 birds eye chilli, thinly sliced. 

Yes the list of ingredients is daunting but don't worry, I skipped half of them and still had a delicious dinner.

1. Put the mushrooms in a bowl, cover with water and soak for 20 minutes, then drain and thinly slice. (Mum already had some sliced up ones in the freezer so I used those).
2. Put the rice vermicelli in a saucepan of boiling water and bring back to the boil. Cook for 5 mins turn off the heat and leave in the water for 5 mins. Drain and then rinse under cold water. Set aside.
3. In a bowl combine pork paste and mushrooms, then using hands knead well. Divide into two portions and set aside. 
4. (I completely skipped this step as I didn't want to fry stuff and have to clean it). Heat the oil in a saucepan over med heat. Form half the pork paste into small balls using oiled hands, then carefully drop the pork balls into the oil.  Fry for 2 mins, urning in the oil until brown, drain on paper towel. Set aside.
5. Bring the chicken stock to the boil in a large saucepan, add the fish sauce, sugar, 2 tsp salt (I found fish sauce to be enough) and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (also skipped this). Stir and then reduce heat to low simmer. Shape remaining pork paste into small balls and drop them into the simmering stock. When they rise to the surface they are cooked. Remove and set aside.
6. Divide vermicelli among serving bowls. Arrange pork terrine, fried pork terrine, fried pork balls and poached pork balls on top. Pour over stock to cover all ingredients. Drizzle with a little garlic oil(I found garlic oil added nothing to the soup) and garnish with spring onions, fried shallots and coriander. Serve with platter of fresh mint, Viet mint and bean sprouts. Add to soup as desired. (I only used fresh mint as that is all we have in our garden. I found it to be more than enough)
7. For a more intense flavour add 1/4 tsp of shrimp paste to each bowl and stir to dissolve. Serve with a small bowl of sliced chilli and fish sauce for dipping.

I found several shortcuts which I will use next time. Buy a loaf of the Vietnamese ham and slice it up like in my picture. Buy some frozen hot pot meat/pork balls instead of making them unless I can be bothered. Skip the garlic oil. Skip all the herbs and just use some mint from the garden. Easy and quick this way.


  1. oo this looks great! i should read the book sometime. btw the recipe text is to tiny XD

  2. I had to use super small text because the recipe is just soooooo long. Will choose a shorter recipe next time.

  3. that is one book I should own but don't cos I don't think I'd cook enough from. maybe when I see it cheap i'll pick it up.

    looks great!