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Hủ Tiếu Mì – Vietnamese Pork Noodle Soup

Hu Tieu Mi - Vietnamese Pork Noodle Soup

One of my culinary goals this year was to stop being such a wuss about preparing Vietnamese noodle soups at home. Four months and some change into 2012, I’m stoked to have mastered Bò Kho (Vietnamese beef stew), Bún Riêu Cua (Vietnamese crab and tomato soup), and most recently, Hủ Tiếu Mì (Vietnamese Pork Noodle Soup).

This most recent accomplishment coincided with my eldest cousin moving into town. Hủ Tiếu Mì is his absolute favorite noodle soup, and he requested that I make a huge vat of it just as soon as he arrived. He also asked for wontons to go with it, but that will be for another time. I need to concentrate on and conquer one dish at a time.

To learn the ins and outs of this Chinese-influenced noodle soup, I sought assistance from my aunt Thao. Something that she mentioned more than once was the importance of having a clear soup. To achieve this, the pork bones used to make the broth needs to boiled and cleaned, and one has to be diligent about skimming off any fat or foam that rises to the surface. Clear broth. Full bellies. Can’t lose.

This recipe makes about a dozen bowls worth, which is just about perfect in my mind. My cousin came over twice for dinner along with his fiancee and took leftovers for breakfast the following morning. Making a tremendous amount of food and having family over to enjoy it made me feel like I was continuing our family’s great tradition of nourishing and over-stuffing. This is what Vietnamese food is all about.

For broth

  • 6 pounds pork bones (neck or spine—Grandma says that spine is tastiest)
  • 1 daikon, peeled, trimmed, and cut in half or thirds
  • 1 cup dried shrimp or 2 dried cuttlefish
  • 7 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon monosodium glutamate (optional)

For toppings and garnish

  • 1.5 pounds ground pork
  • 1.5 pounds pork shoulder/butt
  • 2 bunch scallions, chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For noodles

Make broth

Hu Tieu Mi - Vietnamese Pork Noodle Soup

Place the pork bones in a large stockpot. Fill the stockpot with enough water to cover the surface of the bones and bring to a boil. The pork bones will have some impurities that need to be washed away, so once the water comes to a boil, discard it and collect the bones in a colander.

Hu Tieu Mi - Vietnamese Pork Noodle Soup

One by one, rinse the bones to remove any scum. The cleaner the bones, the clearer the broth will be.

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Eating in Phú Quốc

The Astronomer and I just got back from the most kick-ass vacation ever! Phu Quoc Island off the coast of Vietnam and Cambodia is paradise on earth. Seriously. Clear turquoise waters, abundant sunshine, sandy beaches, and seafood a plenty. Heavenly.

We arrived last Friday morning and flew home Monday afternoon. In between, we sunned on the beach, snorkeled, read, relaxed, and ate extremely well.

After checking in at our hotel and dropping off our luggage, we walked into town in search of lunch. The Astronomer was starving and impulsively chose Thuy Duong at 25 Nguyen Trai Street. The place was infested with flies, which killed my appetite, but The Astronomer ordered a bowl of hu tieu dai muc anyway. When the bowl arrived, it looked SO good that I had to order myself one. The noodle dish was comprised of a pork-based broth, a transparent and chewy noodle (hu tieu dai), bean sprouts, fresh scallions, and lightly cooked squid (muc). Everything tasted so fresh and the squid blew our minds. I think the squid in Phu Quoc has forever ruined squid elsewhere for me.


After lunch, we headed to the market to look around and score some more eats. I bought lots of fruit, while The Astronomer procured cookies (banh kep) and a barbecued meatball sandwich (banh mi nem nuong. The sandwich was good, but his heart remains true to the banh mi thit nuong in District 4.

Dinnertime brought more delicious squid! We stayed close to home and ate at our resort—Kim Nam Phuong. We ordered squid sauteed with garlic and ginger (top row, right) and a plate of pan fried noodles with squid and shrimp. The dishes were stellar all around. I love how seafood is completely satisfying and not too filling.

For breakfast the next morning, I ate fruit and cereal, while The Astronomer ordered a pineapple crepe from the resort. We ate our selections beach side, ah… The Astronomer thought the crepe was a bit dough-y, but a great way to start the day nevertheless. After breakfast, we decided to upgrade our lodging and moved to the Tropicana Resort.

After we set up our new digs and lounged around in the sun, we headed to the Troicana’s sweet beach front dining deck for lunch.

The Astronomer ordered fish with chilies and lemongrass, while I ordered a squid salad. The fish was a bit spicy for The Astronomer, while I found my salad average. The Tropicana may have nicer bungalows, but the chefs at the Kim Nam Phuong are superior.

The following day, The Astronomer and I went on an all-day snorkeling excursion along the southern islands of Phu Quoc. The sites were postcard perfect and the food on board was expertly prepared. The best dish was the squid sauteed with pineapples and tomatoes. This was hands down the most wonderful squid I have ever tasted. Who would have thought squid could melt in one’s mouth? I really don’t think I could ever order calamari at an Italian restaurant ever again. Another great dish was the fried fish, which was covered with red chili flakes.

Now that I’m back in Saigon, I will be dreaming about the fruits of the sea in Phu Quoc until I return.

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