Pork & Prawn noodle soup

vietnamese-pork-prawn-soup-1

Another meal in a bowl, and what flavours! It’s a common combo out here, pork and prawns – local surf and turf? The secret is to make a really good broth (start this significantly earlier than you want to eat as it takes and hour and a half), assemble all the ingredients and then just chuck them together. We ate this in front of House of Cards Series 3 last night; hard to know where to look – screen or bowl! Totally delicious and satisfying.

Serves 2

Broth
125g belly pork
knob of ginger, cut into pieces
125g shallots
4star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
stick of celery
1 carrot
1 small onion, sliced
4 cloves
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 litre water

Other ingredients
6 tiger prawns, unpeeled and raw
3-4 dried chillies, soaked in hot water for 30 mins
75g shallots
4 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp palm sugar
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp salt

To serve
50g dried egg noodles
50g rice vermicelli noodles
large bunch of morning glory or spinach leaves
40g beansprouts
1 hardboiled egg, cut into two halves
crisp fried shallots (you can buy these in any Thai or Chinese supermarket)

First make the broth. Dry fry the spices, remove and then add the celery, carrot, ginger, onion etc and dry fry for a minute or so. Then add the water, the pork belly and the dry spices and simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours, trying not to let too much water evaporate. Top up as necessary. Remove the pork belly and set aside, drain the stock into a clean bowl.

While this is cooking, peel and de-vein the prawns.

Next make your spice paste. Put the soaked chillies, sugar, garlic and shallots plus 1 tsp salt into a food processor, or pestle and mortar. When smooth, heat the oil in a wok and fry gently for 7-8 minutes until you have a thick mixture. Take out half and leave the rest in the pan.

Add the shells to the spice mixture in the wok and fry for 5 minutes, then add the strained stock plus a pinch of salt. Simmer for 15 minutes, before straining into a clean pan (you will need quite a big pot for this), crushing the heads and shells of the prawn to get as much flavour out of them as you can.

Now make your noodles. First add the egg noodles to a pan of boiling water and cook for a couple of minutes, before adding the vermicelli. Simmer for one more minute, strain and set aside.

Bring the stock up to the boil and now add the prawns and morning glory and cook for a minute or two, until the prawns are pink. While it is cooking thinly slice the pork if you can – I find it disintegrates into an unctuous pile of aromatic meat!

Divide the noodles into two bowls, share the beansprouts between them, add the hardboiled egg and then gently ladle the stock, prawn and morning glory mixture over the noodles. Make sure the prawns are equally distributed! Finally add the thinly sliced pork belly (I removed the rind and extra fat once it is cooked). Now garnish with fried shallot and some of the reserved chilli paste. Tuck in!

frying the prawn shells in the chilli paste

frying the prawn shells in the chilli paste

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