Vietnamese Mustard Green Soup with Pork Spare Ribs (Canh Cai Be Xanh Nau Suon Heo)

Vietnamese Mustard Green Soup (Canh Cai Be Xanh)

Vietnamese Mustard Green Soup (Canh Cai Be Xanh)

A traditional Vietnamese family meal usually comes with a vegetable soup dish. Not only is it a healthy side dish, but having soup to slurp helps with the digestion of the food in a multi-course meal.

One of the simplest traditional Vietnamese soups is mustard green soup or Canh Cai Be Xanh. There are many varieties of mustard greens. The ones used here was labeled Chinese Mustard Greens. If you can’t find this variety, frankly any mustard greens will do.

For the stock, you can use whatever protein you have on hand. Here I used pork spare ribs that I cut into bite-size pieces. You can also use chicken carcass if you process your own chickens. You can also use beef (thin slices of sirloin), ground pork and even shrimp. The recipe is pretty much the same for whatever protein you have on hand. However, if you use beef or shrimp, reduce the total cooking time to 15-20 minutes to prevent overcooking. Overcooked beef and shrimp are tough and leathery.

Serve this vegetable soup with steamed white rice and your favorite meat side dish for a complete traditional family meal. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Vietnamese Mustard Green Soup (Canh Cai Be Xanh)

Ingredients for Vietnamese Mustard Green Soup (Canh Cai Be Xanh)

Vietnamese Mustard Green Soup Recipe (Canh Cai Be Xanh)

Serves 5

Ingredients

    Pork

  • 3/4 lb pork spare ribs (cut into bite-size pieces)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (half for cleaning)
  • 1 teaspoon pork, chicken or mushroom stock powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated white sugar

  • Stock Seasoning

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (peel and mince)
  • Half of small yellow onion (quarter)
  • 2 liters water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pork, chicken or mushroom stock powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon MSG (optional)

  • Vegetables

  • 1 bunch Chinese mustard greens (Cai Be Xanh; cut into 2-inch segments)

  • Other Ingredients

  • Dash black pepper

Instructions

  1. Optional by highly recommended: Cleaning/parcooking the pork ribs will remove all the impurities and foul-smell of pork. Add bones and salt (1 teaspoon) to small stock pot and fill with water to cover. Bring the pot to a rolling boil on the stove (uncovered). Once it comes to a rolling boil and foam/impurities float to the top, immediately turn off heat. Place a colander in the sink and pour content of pot into the colander, discarding the dirty water. Rinse bones under cold running water and drain dry.
  2. To the parboiled bones, marinate with remaining salt (1 teaspoon), stock powder and sugar for at least 30 minutes.
  3. To a small stock pot, heat vegetable oil on medium high. Add garlic and onions. Saute until fragrant (10-20 seconds only). Add marinated pork spare ribs and quickly toss to coat in aromatics.
  4. Add water and bring pot to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 40 minutes. Occasionally skim off any foam that float to the top. Scoop out and discard yellow onion once it becomes translucent and limp.
  5. Season stock with salt, stock powder, sugar and MSG.
  6. Add Chinese mustard green and cook for additional 5 minutes. Turn off heat and transfer to a serving bowl. Top with a dash of black pepper for a beautiful finish.
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