While growing up, my parents were always busy working. During the hectic school and work week, we had simple family-cooked dinners that centered around rice that my parents quickly threw together in the evening after work, and simply reheated for breakfast and lunch the next day. Yes, breakfast in our household was rice as well.
During the weekend, we would make fancier meals such as noodle soups that required a bit more time. My mom would make us all kinds of noodle soups that she reserved for her one day off each week.
One of my many favorites was egg noodle soup. Egg noodle soup is flavorful bowl of chicken broth that we slurp down with egg noodles. The broth is made out of chicken stock with chicken bones left over from prepping other dishes during the week. Unlike American chicken stock, Vietnamese chicken stock does not contain a French base of sautéed celery, onions and carrots. Rather it contains roasted ginger and onions/shallots, which give the stock a very intense aroma. So if you are using store-bought chicken stock, pick a brand without the celery-onion-carrot mirepoix; just a stock made out of chicken bones. Add roasted ginger and onions to "Asianfy" it.
Hoanh Thanh Mi is Vietnamese egg noodle soup with the addition of wontons, a Chinese influence. The wontons, or dumplings, are primarily made out of shrimp with a little bit of pork for flavor and fat. The steamy bowl of egg noodles and wontons can be topped with an assortment of meaty toppings and garnish. I topped mine with crispy pork crackling (recipe below), green onions and slices of Chinese/Vietnamese Barbecue Pork. Other common toppings are steamed baby bok choy, garlic chives, and cooked whole shrimp.
Vietnamese Chicken Broth Recipe
Makes 5 servings
- 4 quarts store-bought chicken stock (Asian brand preferred)
- 1 large yellow onion or 5 large shallots (unpeeled)
- 3-inch piece fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 oz palm sugar or rock sugar, or 1-1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the onion/shallots and ginger on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour until soft and oozing. Remove from oven. Peel the onions/shallots and cut them into halves. Cut the ginger into 1/4-inch thick coins.
- Heat the chicken stock in a pot. Add the roasted onions/shallots and ginger. Bring the stock to a boil then reduce heat to a low simmer. Slowly simmer for about 30 minutes to infuse the broth with the onion/shallot, ginger flavors. Remove the solids then discard.
- Add the salt and sugar a little at a time and season the stock to taste.
Shrimp Wonton Recipe
Makes about 40-50 wontons
- 8 oz shrimp (peeled, deveined and finely chopped)
- 4 oz ground pork shoulder
- 1/3 cup fried shallots
- 3 tablespoons shallot oil or vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup fresh water chestnuts (finely chopped)
- 1 cup King Oyster or Trumpet mushrooms (finely chopped)
- 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
- 1 green onion (minced)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 50 wonton wrapper squares (1-lb package)
- 1 egg (lightly beaten)
- Cornstarch for dusting
- Combine all the ingredients listed above (except the egg and corn starch) in a bowl and mix well.
- To form the wontons, place a piece of wonton on a flat surface. Scoop about 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons of meat mixture into the center of the wonton. Brush the edges with the beaten egg and fold the wonton in half to form a triangle. Press the edges together to form a seal. You may keep the wontons in simple triangles like I did or you can fold the wonton into something more fancy. Lightly dust each wonton with corn starch to prevent sticking and ripping.
- To cook the wontons, boil in water for about 3 minutes. Remove from boil and gently rinse under hot water to remove the excess starch.
To Assemble a Bowl of Wonton Egg Noodle Soup
- 1/2 cup fried shallots
- 2 green onions (slice thinly)
- 1 lb package fresh thin egg noodles (cook per package instructions and rinse under hot water to remove excess starch)
- Chinese/Vietnamese Barbecue Pork (Char Siu/Xa Xiu) (optional)
- Pork crackling (optional; recipe below)
- To each bowl, add about 1/2 cup egg noodles and 3-5 wontons.
- Ladle on hot chicken broth.
- Top with a few slices of barbecue pork.
- Garnish with fried shallots, green onions and pork crackling.
Pork Crackling Recipe
- 8 oz pork fat
- 2 cups vegetable oil
- Freeze the pork fat for easier slicing. Slice the pork fat into 1/4-inch cubes.
- Heat vegetable oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Carefully add the pork fat to the oil and cook until golden brown (about 15-20 minutes). If you have a full body armor laying around, now is the time to use it. Death by oil splatter is a possibility.
- Transfer the crackling with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels to remove excess oil. Spread out the crackling evenly. Once dried, use the crackling immediately.