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.
- 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
- 2 pounds thin or wide egg noodles (mì) or wide rice noodles (hủ tiếu), prepared according to directions on package
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.
One by one, rinse the bones to remove any scum. The cleaner the bones, the clearer the broth will be.