The origins of this soup, called canh bap
cuon, could be attributed to the French dish chou farci, or to the ancient
Chinese tradition of cooking dumplings in a clear broth. Whatever the
source, this classic Vietnamese soup takes a little time to prepare, so it
is often reserved for special occasions such as the New Year, Tet. Each
cabbage leaf is blanched, then rolled into a bite-size bundle with the
mushroom, minced pork and shrimp filling. It is then tied securely with
blanched spring onions (scallions).
Chinese cabbage leaves or savoy cabbage leaves, halved, main ribs removed
Spring onions (scallions), green tops left whole, white part finely
Dried cloud ear (wood ear) mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes
Minced (ground) pork
Shrimp, shelled, deveined and finely chopped
Thai chili, seeded and chopped
Nuoc cham sauce
Fresh root ginger, peeled and very finely sliced
Fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
Meaty chicken carcass
Onions, peeled and quartered
Fresh root ginger, chopped
Black pepper corns
Sea salt, or to taste
To make the stock, put the chicken carcass
into a deep pan. Add all the other stock ingredients except the salt and
pour over 2 liters of water. Bring the water to boil, and boil for a few
minutes, skim off any foam, then reduce the heat and simmer gently with
the lid on for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Remove the lid and simmer for a further
30 minutes to reduce the stock. Skim off any fat, season with salt then
strain the stock and measure out 1.5 liters.
Blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling water
for about 2 minutes, or until tender.
Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon and
refresh under cold water.
Add the green tops of the spring onions to
the boiling water and blanch for a minute, or until tender, then drain
and refresh under cold water. Carefully tear each piece into five thin
strips and set aside.
Squeeze dry the cloud ear mushrooms, then
trim and finely chop and mix with the pork, shrimps, spring onion
whites, chili, nuoc mam and soy sauce.
Lay a cabbage leaf flat on a surface and
place a teaspoon on the filling about 1 cm from the bottom edge. Fold
this bottom edge over the filling, and then fold in the sides of the
leaf to seal it. Roll all the way to the top of the leaf to form a tight
bundle. Wrap a piece of blanched spring onion green around the bundles
and tie it so that it holds together. Repeat with the remaining leaves
Bring the stock to the boil in a wok or
deep pan. Stir in the finely sliced ginger, then reduce the heat and
drop in the cabbage bundles. Bubble very gently over a medium heat for
about 20 minutes to ensure that the filling is thoroughly cooked.
Serve immediately, ladled into bowls with
a sprinkling of fresh coriander leaves.