Vietnamese Pork & Seafood Noodle Soup or, Hủ Tiếu, is to South Vietnam as Phở is to North Vietnam, and Bún bò Huế is to Central Vietnam. Hủ Tiếu 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 to Pho but made with tapioca starch, resulting a chewier texture)
For someone who is not familiar with Vietnamese cuisine, at first glance Hu Tieu with Pho noodles can be confused with the dish, Pho. There are a couple of important differences:
Hu Tieu is made primarily out of pork bones. Some version also include chicken bones. Pho, on the other hand, is all beef bones (Pho Bo) or chicken bones (Pho Ga).
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. For me, Pho in the States are so much better than in Vietnam. Whereas Hu Tieu Mi is best in Vietnam. Go figure.
Vietnamese Pork & Seafood Noodle Soup (Hu Tieu) Recipe
3 lb pork leg bones with marrow (you can also use pork ribs, neck bones or knuckles)
3 liters water
1/4 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)
1 small daikon (peel and cut into small chunks)
1 yellow onion (roast whole at 400 F for 30 minutes or until oozing)
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon pork stock powder
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon fish sauce
2 packages noodles (either Mi noodles, Hu Tieu noodles, Pho Noodles, or a combination of Mi noodles with one of the other two)
Cooked proteins: Vietnamese barbecue pork (Thit Xa Xiu), shrimp, fish balls, squid, pork liver, hard-boiled quail eggs, ground pork, and/or imitation crab
1 bunch garlic chives (cut into 3-inch pieces)
1 bunch green onions (thinly slice)
Clean the pork bones thoroughly. Don't skip this step! This will keep the broth clear.
To a large stock pot, add pork bones and 1 teaspoon salt. Fill the pot with water to cover bones then bring it to a boil. Boil the bones for about 5 minutes or until foam floats to the top. Place a colander inside the sink. 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 3 liters water and cleaned bones. Bring pot to a boil.
Add dried shrimp, squid, roasted onion (remove any burnt peels from the roasted onions before adding to stock), and daikon.
Simmer on low for 2 hours, occasionally skim the surface of the stock to keep it clear.
Once you are done cooking, with a mesh ladle, remove the bones and other solids from the stock so you have just the liquid. For me, I like to keep the pork bones and have them as a side dish to my noodles.
Season the stock with salt (remaining 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon), pork stock powder, sugar and fish sauce.
Blanch 1/2 to 1 cup noodles in boiling water. Remove from water and place in individual bowls.
Ladle hot broth onto noodles.
Add desired protein toppings.
Garnish with garlic chives, fried shallots, green onions, and black pepper.