Welcome back to this sous chef's second attempt at cooking a Vietnamese broth. I decided to tackle mì quảng, a traditional noodle soup from the Quảng Province. It is actually very hard to find mì quảng outside of Vietnam because there are so many parts to the dish and not many restaurants find it cost efficient to cook.
This dish was made with reference to my friend's mum's cooking. I used our new 15L pot. For the recipe, I compiled and readjusted these (one, two, three) with enough stock to feed 4 households (8-10 people).
From the butcher:
From the wet market:
From the Asian grocery store:
From your cupboard:
(Forgot to take a photo of the ingredients so here's one of the finished dish)
For my broth:
For my pork belly:
For my prawns:
I added the onion and some chopped garlic to the broth and continued scooping the top/adding water when needed.
Meanwhile, in a pan, I used olive oil to cook the annatto seeds and then used the annatto-infused oil to cook the pork belly, prawns and prawn heads for a depth of flavour. This was optional. Some recipes said to strain and add the oil to the pot but I skipped this step.
The prawn heads were put into a soup-bag and into my broth around the 1.5 hour mark. This ensured the broth would soak up the umami flavours and remain clear.
I forgot to take a photo but I quartered my tomatoes and pineapple and put them in the broth too. Some recipes said to sautéed the tomatoes into a thick sauce but with my lack of culinary experience, I didn't want to fuck it up LOL.
Around the 3 hour mark, I seasoned with 1-2 ladles of fish sauce, 2 tbsp turmeric,
2 tbsp paprika, 3 tbsp sugar, 3 tbsp salt to taste. The broth should be a concentrated soup. In total, my broth was cooking for 4 hours.
Viola, my pork belly was sautéed in annatto-infused oil. It was savoury and had a strong turmeric flavour when eaten on its own.
The prawns were cooked for a few minutes, with 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp fish sauce. They were salty and again, heavily soaked in turmeric when eaten on their own.
I prepared the coriander, mint leaves, lettuce and lime while the broth continued to simmer. I forgot to take a photo but the quail eggs were washed and then cooked in boiling water for a few minutes. The peanuts were already salted and roasted.
The trick to mì quảng is to have such a concentrated broth that the dish only needs a third soup, a third noodles and a third toppings. The noodles were cooked in a seperate pot of boiling water. And everything was combined into a bowl.
Based on the recipes I followed (one, two, three), the final dish was supposed to be like a true mì quảng from the Quảng province... luckily S's mom is from there and my friends, S&T, have had the real thing.
Their feedback was that there was a lack of depth of flavour in my dish. It needed to be more concentrated. Some options they provided were:
Mick and Annie said it was a very "clean" and delicious broth but they have limited to zero mì quảng experience. At least we know my cooking is edible! 😂 And my parents enjoyed the dish but they kept saying it was not like the bowl they've had in Vietnam.
Thanks for reading 😃 I need to eat the true Quang-style dish before I attempt this again. Just waiting for S's mom next batch or for the borders to open so we can fly to Vietnam.
Until then, happy cooking!