Saigon Pork and Shrimp Soup with Rice Sticks Recipe
(Hu Tieu Do Bien)
Like pho, this soup, called hu tieu do
bien, relies heavily on a richly flavored stock. Without it the taste
would be bland and insipid. Hu tieu do bien is a specialty of Saigon and
the surrounding area, where the pork stock is enhanced with the intense
sweet and smoky flavor of dried squid. To serve the meal on its own, add
bit-size pieces of soaked dried shiitake mushrooms or cubes of firm tofu.
Dried rice sticks (vermicelli), soaked in lukewarm water for 20 minutes
Shrimps, shelled and deveined
Spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
Green or red Thai chilies, seeded and finely sliced
Garlic, finely sliced
Coriander (cilantro) leaves, stalks removed, leaves roughly chopped
Basil leaves, stalks removed, leaves roughly chopped
Lime, cut into quarters
Onion, peeled and quartered
Carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
To make the stock, soak the dried squid in
water for 30 minutes, rinse and drain.
Put the ribs in a large pan and cover with
approximately 2.5 liters of water.
Bring the water to the boil, skim off any
fat, and add the dried squid with the remaining stock ingredients. Cover
the pan and simmer for 1 hour, then skim off any foam or fat and
continue to simmer, uncovered, for a further 1 1/2 hours.
Strain the stock and check the seasoning,
adding a little more if necessary. You should have roughly 2 liters.
Pour the stock into a deep pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat,
add the pork tenderloin and simmer for about 25 minutes. Carefully lift
the tenderloin out of the stock, place it on a board and cut it into
thin slices. Meanwhile, keep the stock simmering gently over a low heat.
Bring a pan of water to the boil. Drain
the rice sticks and add to the water. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until
tender, separating them with chopsticks if they stick together. Drain
the rice sticks and divide them among four warm bowls.
Drop the shrimps into the simmering stock
for 1 minute. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and layer them with the
slices of pork on top of the rice sticks. Ladle the hot stock over them
and sprinkle with beans sprouts, spring onions, chilies, garlic and
Serve each bowl of soup with a wedge of
lime to squeeze over it and nuoc cham to splash on top.
Look for a smoky dried squid in Chinese
and Asian markets. If you cannot find it, you can use dried shrimp
instead, which is usually easier to find. The shrimp will need to be
soaked and drained in the same way as the squid.