Sunny days seem to be over in this part of the world. This summer was so good that I almost forgot cold rainy days existed. Who am I kidding? Rain is the default weather here. We got lucky this summer, that's all. Weirdly, I haven't felt that seasonal sadness yet. I got quite happy just catting around and watching the 3rd season of Food War in the warmth of my blanket and the sandalwood smell of burning incense. Maybe it's because my vitamin D reserve is still quite full. And maybe also because of the fact that I know this year's mushroom season won't be a disaster as I expected. Rain in the autumn means mushrooms. Period. I must NOT miss another mushroom picking season. Also this weather is perfect for hot pot and all types of noodle soups, which I cannot live without.
Today I'm gonna share with you this super duper easy noodle soup that I usually make when I feel too lazy to cook but still want something nice and warm on a cold day. This recipe mimics the traditional Vietnamese chicken glass noodle soup, however there's a little twist that I added to make it simpler and quicker to cook, by using mince pork instead of spending hours to make a precious bone broth. The amount of dried mushrooms I used for this recipe can be varied to anyone's liking. Personally, I would just grab a handful of each type if I'm cooking for two. The more dried shiitake mushrooms you add, the more fragrant the soup will be. This recipe uses whole dried mushrooms because that's normally what I have. Still, the shredded ones that you can find in an Asian store work just fine. My tip for a great broth is that do not throw away the water that you soak your shiitake mushrooms with. Skip the wood ear mushroom water tho, but the shiitake mushroom water contains all this fragrance goodness that only shiitake mushrooms have and it would be a crime not adding that to your broth. I did not quantify the seasoning since I think soup should be seasoned to your own taste. I like a bit of spiciness in everything I eat so I put chili flakes in mine. But if you don't, just skip it. Fish sauce is added in every Vietnamese dish so I cannot leave it out. Trust me, it makes a big difference. Like how some people like to add a few anchovies to deepen the flavor of a dish, fish sauce works the same way. It's basically just liquid anchovies.
There are two common types of Vietnamese dried glass noodles: one made from mung bean starch and one made from canna starch (on the package it should show: Miến dong). I personally prefer the later since it gives a better chewy texture in the soup. Pay attention after you drop your noodles in the broth because it is very easy to overcook these noodles. And when it's done, eat immediately. I repeat, IMMEDIATELY. (in CAPS because of how important it is)
Quick Glass Noodle Soup
My quick take on Vietnamese-inspired glass noodle soup with mince pork
Makes: 2 servings
- 200g mince pork
- 150g glass noodles
- 3-4 full size dried wood ear mushrooms
- 3-4 big dried shiitake mushroom, increase the amount if you use smaller size
- Fish sauce, sugar, salt, chili flakes and pepper to season
- Green onion and cilantro to garnish
- Soak dried glass noodles in cold water for 10 mins or until the noodles get softened. Strain and set aside.
- Rinse two types of dried mushrooms in cold water to make sure that they're clean and free of dirt then soak them in hot water in separate bowls. Take them out when rehydrated and chop into thin stripes. Keep the shiitake mushrooms water for broth later.
- In a medium sized saucepan, fry up the mince pork with a bit of oil. Caramelize the meat and deglaze the pan with a bit of water for more depth in flavor. Add in salt, pepper, a splash of fish sauce and chili flakes.
- Add mushrooms to the pan, keep frying for about 2 mins then add in 2 bowls of water including the shitake mushrooms water. Simmer for 10 mins.
- Add glass noodles and cook for 1 min. Serve immediately and garnish with chopped green onions and cilantro.