by Lili Tu
Hủ tiếu \hoo tee-u\ is chewy tapioca or thin rice noodles, top with pork, prawn and eggs in clear, flavour pork broth served with bean sprouts and Chinese celery.
Hủ tiếu also means just the noodle and not necessarily in soup form. Actually, Vietnamese people often name the noodle soup with the noodle used in it. Phở actually also refers to the soft rice noodles, too. So, there is nothing is no-carb phở as without the noodles it shouldn’t be called phở.
At the first glance, Hủ Tiếu and Phở could be confused for someone is not familiar with Vietnamese cuisine. The first thing to differentiate them is the broth, phở broth primarily has a special smoky aroma from all the spices, charred ginger and onion while hủ tiếu broth has a touch of seafood and fried garlic oil. Secondly, it is the noodle. Phở noodle is soft and thicker while hủ tiếu noodle has more texture and thinner.
When came to visit the Mekong Delta a few years ago, I had a hands-on experience of how hủ tiếu noodle was made.
Rice is soaked then ground to make rice flour mixture. Tapioca starch is added to make the chewier texture of the noodles. Water is added to the batter. The batter is then spread evenly over the surface of a thick cloth, cover tightly over a pot of hot boiling water.
The massive rice noodle sheet will be steamed then laid out on a bamboo rack to dry in the sun.
Once the sheets are most dry, they’re machine-cut into noodles.
You could try the hu tieu noodle soup right at the factory. The factory owner ran a small stall and his wife was the cook.
The noodle soup was slightly sweeter than the ones I have had in Sai Gon or Melbourne as the locals there like to use fresh coconut juice to cook the broth. The toppings were similar with pork, prawn, minced, chives and golden fried shallot.
It was a great satisfaction but next time if coming back there again, I made a promise to myself that I have to try the hu tieu noodle from the lady in the floating market as well.
For now, why don’t we try a bowl of comfort and delicious prawn and pork Hủ tiếu with my recipe?
Total cooking time: 4 hours, Servings: 8-10
- 3 chicken carcases or 1kg pork bones
- 1 daikon
- 1 onion
- ½ cup dried prawns
- 2-3 small dried squids
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1kg hủ tiếu noodles
- 500g cooked prawns
- 500g pork shoulder
- 500g minced chicken
- 18 quail eggs
- 1 bunch garlic chive
- 1 bunch Chinese celery
- 250g bean sprouts
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fried onion
- 2 limes or lemon
- Chilli and Srichara sauce to serve
- In a large pot, bring the water to the boil. Add the chicken carcases to the pot and bring it to the boil again. Discard the water and rinse the bones. This step will help you get rid of the scum in the broth.
- In the same pot, place the chicken carcases, pork shoulder, onion with 4 litres water. Season it with 1 tablespoons salt, 1 small piece of rock sugar and 1 teaspoon peppers. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat, continue to simmer the stock for another 5 minutes. Check the meat is cooked by insert a skewer into it, if the juice runs clear. Take the pork out, set a side to cool down.
- In the mean time, grill the squids and fry the shrimps in a small pan without any oil until fragrant. Add them and sliced daikon to the stock and continue simmer for 3 hours.
- Mix the minced chicken with 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ tablespoon of fish sauce, ½ tablespoon of sugar. Heat the oil in a pan. Add shallot and fry until it fragrant. Add the chicken, stir fry so the meat break apart. Cook until all the juice from the chicken just dry up. Remove and set aside.
- Place the quail eggs in a small saucepan, fill with water and bring to the boil, cook for another 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and cool down in a bowl filled with ice water. Peel very carefully.
- Peel the prawn. Slice the pork thinly.
- Wash chives, Chinese celery and bean spouts. Cut the garlic chives into 3cm pieces.
- Fried the minced garlic with 1 tablespoon of neutral oil until lightly golden. Remove from the heat.
- Season the stock again with 2-3 tablespoons of fish sauce, or to your liking. Add the garlic oil to the stock.
- Bring a pot of water to boiling point. Blanch a handful of hu tieu noodle for 30 seconds. Place the noodle in a large bowl. Top with 4-5 slices of pork, 2 quail eggs, 2-3 prawns and 2 tablespoons of mince chicken. Garnish with garlic chives and fried onion.
- Ladle the stock over the noodle. Serve with lime, chillies, bean sprouts and Asian celery at the table.