Vietnamese Pork & Seafood Noodle Soup or, Hu Tieu, is to South Vietnam as Pho is to North Vietnam, and Bun Bo Hue is to Central Vietnam. It consists of mostly pork and seafood, and it's a lot more versatile than the other noodle dishes.
First, there are three ways to eat Hu Tieu:
- Dry (noodles are either stir-fried or pan-fried)
- Wet (noodles with soup)
- Or a combination of the two (dry noodles with soup on the side)
Second, there are three types of acceptable noodles:
- Egg noodles or Mi (made with wheat flour and eggs)
- Pho noodles (made with rice flour)
- Hu Tieu noodles (similar looking to Pho but made with tapioca starch)
For someone who is not familiar with Vietnamese cuisine, at first glance Hu Tieu with Pho noodles can be confused with the dish, Pho Bo, Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup. There are a couple of important differences:
- Hu Tieu is made primarily out of pork bones. Some version also include chicken bones, as in my recipe below. Pho Bo, on the other hand, is all beef bones.
- All the meat toppings in Hu Tieu are pork and assorted seafood such as fish balls, squid, shrimp, and imitation crab. The toppings in Pho Bo are strictly beef such as rare steak, flank steak, brisket, tripe, tendon and beef balls. Similarly, the meat toppings for chicken pho, Pho Ga, is strictly chicken.
- Hu Tieu doesn't have a lot of vegetable toppings, and condiments are optional. Pho, on the other hand, requires the two main condiments, Hoisin Sauce and Sriracha Sauce. It also requires herbs and vegetables such as Thai Basil, bean sprouts, cilantro, and culantro (you didn't think there was an herb called culantro, huh?) Without these condiments and vegetables in Pho, it is just wrong.
Some people prefer Hu Tieu over Pho because it doesn't contain any of the spices that are normally found in Pho. The spices used in Pho can give the stock a "licorice-y" aroma, which can be offsetting to some. Personally, I am a Pho girl. I will have Pho over Hu Tieu any day.
Vietnamese Pork & Seafood Noodle Soup (Hu Tieu) Recipe
- 2 lb pork bones
- 2 lb chicken bones
- 6 liters water
- 1/2 cup dried shrimp (soak in warm water for 30 minutes, drain then rinse)
- 1 small dried squid (soak in warm water for 30 minutes, drain then rinse)
- 2 white or yellow onions (roast whole at 400 F for 30 minutes or until oozing)
- 10 shallots (roast whole at 400 F for 30 minutes or until oozing)
- 50 grams rock sugar
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 teaspoon MSG
- Clean the pork and chicken bones thoroughly. Don't skip this step! This will keep the broth clear. A clear broth is a happy broth.
Fill a large stock pot with enough water that would cover bones without overflowing. Bring water to a boil. Add bones and cook for 5 minutes. Pour content of pot into a colander and rinse bones with cold water. If you are going to re-use the pot for stock, make sure to clean the pot thoroughly too.
- In a stock pot, add 6 liters water and cleaned bones. Bring pot to a boil.
- Add dried shrimp, squid, roasted onions and roasted shallots (remove any burnt peels from the roasted onions and shallots before adding to stock).
- Cook for 2 to 2.5 hours on medium low heat, occasionally skim the surface of the stock to keep the broth clear.
- Season with rock sugar, salt and MSG.
- Noodles (either Mi noodles, Hu Tieu noodles, Pho Noodles, or a combination of Mi noodles with one of the other two)
- Cooked proteins (shrimp, fish balls, squid, thinly sliced pork, pork liver, hard-boiled quail eggs, ground pork, and/or imitation crab)
- 1 bunch garlic chives (cut into 3-inch pieces)
- Fried shallots
- 1 bunch green onions (thinly slice)
- Black pepper
- Blanch 1/2 to 1 cup noodles in boiling water. Remove from water and place in individual bowls.
- Ladle broth onto noodles.
- Add desired protein toppings.
- Garnish with garlic chives, fried shallots, green onions, and black pepper.