Hu Tieu noodle soup is the rebel of all Vietnamese noodle soups. There are no rules. You can add whatever delicious topping you want (chicken, pork, eggs, innards and/or seafood). You can have it with broth, without broth (dry) or with broth on the side. You can have it with rice noodles (Pho noodles), tapioca noodles (Hu Tieu noodles), egg noodles (Mi noodles) or any combination of them. It’s delicious chaos in a bowl.
Before we proceed, just a quick clarification. There’s a difference between Hu Tieu, the dish and Hu Tieu, the noodle. Having a bowl of Hu Tieu noodle soup doesn’t necessarily mean you will be served with Hu TIeu noodles. That was pretty confusing to me in the beginning so I wanted to clear that up. Moving on.
The broth in Hu TIeu noodle soup is made primarily from pork bones but chicken bones can also be used. Since there are so many variations in what makes up Hu Tieu noodle soup, a telltale sign of a version of Hu TIeu noodle soup (the dish, not the type of noodle) is the use of garlic chives. You see garlic chives? Bam, it’s Hu Tieu noodle soup for simplicity.
For this particular version of Vietnamese Dry Pork & Seafood Noodle Soup, I use two types of noodles: Hu Tieu noodles, a chewy and clear noodle made from tapioca starch, and Mi noodles, a noodle made from eggs and wheat flour. The meaty toppings include sliced BBQ pork (Thit Xa Xiu), hard-boiled quail eggs, squid and shrimp. Since I’m having it dry, the noodle bowl comes with a generous dollop of a savory and sweet and soy-based tomato sauce. The bowl is topped with blanched garlic chives, bean sprouts, crispy fried shallots and garnished with green onions and a dash of black pepper. For those who like it spicy, you can add a spoonful of chili garlic oil (sate sauce) and a some pickled jalapeno peppers. Mix everything together before shoving it in your face.
I spent the whole day prepping and cooking the many components that make up this dish and placed this wonderfully scrumptious noodle bowl in front of my husband. He looked at the bowl and immediately asked, “Where’s the fried wonton?” For a split second, the world stood still and hell froze over.
Dry Vietnamese Pork & Seafood Noodle Soup with Sauce (Hu Tieu Kho Voi Nuoc Sot)
- 3 lbs pork bones (shoulder/neck/marrow/tail bones, can also use chicken bones)
- 3 liters water (about 12-1/2 cups)
- 1/4 dried shrimp (about 10 small shrimp, soak in warm water for 5 minutes, rinse and drain dry)
- 1 daikon (peel and cut into large chunks)
- 1 yellow onion (peel; leave whole)
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1-1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon pork/chicken/mushroom stock powder
- 1/2 teaspoon MSG (optional)
- 1 package (1 lb/16 oz) fresh or dried tapioca noodles (Hu Tieu noodles; presoak if using dried noodles)
- 1 package ( 1 lb/16 oz) fresh or dried egg noodles (Mi noodles; presoak if using dried noodles))
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- BBQ Pork (Xa Xiu)
- 10 hard-boiled quail eggs
- 10-15 large shrimp (size 21-15, peeled and deveined)
- 1 bag frozen already prepped and scored squid
- 1 bag bean sprouts (blanch)
- 1 bunch garlic chives (trim off ends, cut into 2 inch segments and blanch)
- Fried shallots
- Green onions (trim off end and slice thin)
- Fried pork fat
- Black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large shallot (peel and mince)
- 4 cloves garlic (peel and mince)
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 5 tablespoons tomato sauce
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon MSG (optional)
- 2 cups stock
- 1 tablespoon tapioca starch and 1 tablespoon corn starch dissolved in 4 tablespoons room temperature/cold water
- Chili garlic oil (sate sauce)
- Clean pork/chicken bones by boiling the bones in a medium-size pot filled with water for 3-5 minutes. Remove bones, rinse under cold running water and drain dry.
- Clean the pot that was used to parboil the bones thoroughly and return to stove. Add blanched bones, water (3 liters), dried shrimp, daikon and yellow onion. Bring pot to a low simmer and cook for 2 hours. Occasionally, use a ladle or strainer to remove any impurities/scrum that float to the surface to keep the stock clear.
- In the meantime, cook the noodles. If you are using dried noodles, make sure to presoak them in cold water for 2-3 hours to become pliable. Blanch noodles in a rolling boil water for 30 second to 1 minute. Drain noodles into a colander placed in the sink, rinse with cold water and drain dry. Gently toss noodles with sesame oil (1 tablespoon for each type of noodles).
- Prepare the potein toppings and vegetables/garnish.
- To the stock pot, remove all the solids. Drop the raw shrimp and precooked squid directly into the stock to cook or to liven up for 1-2 minutes (make sure not to overcook). Use a strainer or slotted spoon to remove squid and shrimp. Set aside. Season stock with sea salt, sugar, stock powder and MSG.
- Make the tomato-soy-based sauce. In a medium-size sauce pan, add vegetable oil and heat on medium-high. Add shallots and garlic. Saute until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Add oyster sauce, soy sauce, tomatoe sauce, sugar, MSG, 2 cups stock and tapioca/corn starch slurry. Heat on medium until sauce thickens then set aside.
- To assemble, add egg noodles and tapioca noodles to a bowl. Top noodles with a few slices of BBQ pork (xa xiu), one or two hard-boiled quail eggs, 1-2 shrimp, 2-3 slices of squid, some bean sprouts and garlic chives. Garnish with fried shallots, green onions, fried pork fat and a dash of black pepper. Lastly, add a big dallop of the tomato-soy-based sauce to the bowl and serve with a small bowl of stock, garnished too with a bit of green onions and a dash of black pepper. Now enjoy, you beautiful person you!