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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mì Quảng (Quang Style Noodle with Pork and Shrimps)

Growing up in Pleiku, Vietnam, I was fortunate enough to experience wonderful food from many regions in Vietnam. Being the youngest of six children, I was usually spoiled by my generous and loving eldest sister who would always buy food for me every time she came home from the market.  

Pleiku is a small city. We can practically walk or ride a bike to anywhere. There were some great eating places that you can only find in corridors and alleys, so the best way to get there was by walking.  The Quang noodle house was one of those places. In Vietnam, it's common to see people live and operate a business in their homes. This Quang noodle place is a small house. We would sit down on cheap plastic small stools with a small plastic table similar to the table set that the kids here in the U.S play with. But what draws me here time and again was the noodle.

Mì Quảng (me wang) - Quang Noodle originates from Quảng Nam, Đà Nẵng - a province in central coastal Vietnam. This dish is a staple of this region, but due to its popularity can be found in most regions of Vietnam today. I always remember this wonderful mì Quảng dish. It has a distinguished look, texture, flavor, and it is served with very little broth unlike other kinds of noodle soup. The beautiful wide yellow turmeric noodle - covered with vibrant orange shell-on shrimps, fatty thin slices of pork belly, big chunks of spare ribs, sesame rice crackers, roasted peanuts, fresh herbs, and shredded banana blossom - is so appetizing. When served right, it's a thing of beauty . . . and for the people of Quang Nam, it's poetry.

 Thương nhau múc bát chè xanh, 
Làm tô mì Quảng anh xơi cho cùng

(literal translation: a woman saying to her lover: "To love is to fill a cup with green tea and enjoy together with a bowl of Mi Quang in each other's company") ~anonymous
RECIPE: Mì Quảng
make 10-12 bowls
***Don't be overwhelmed by all the steps, I am just extremely thorough with my recipes.


for pork stock
2-3 lbs pork neck bones or spare ribs
1 onion, cut in half
1 head of garlic, peeled

for mì Quảng broth
1 lb medium sized shrimps, head-on or headless
1 lb pork belly
1 tbsp paprika, for color, and mild spicy flavor
1 tbsp annatto seeds, for color
1 tbsp onion powder or dried chopped onion
1 tbsp garlic powder 
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp msg or 1 tbsp mushroom seasoning
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 shallots, thinly sliced 
1 head of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of dried shrimps
5 quarts water

Banana Blossom
bean sprouts
perilla leaves 
mint leaves 
lettuce, coarsely chopped
cilantro, coarsely chopped
green scallions, thinly sliced
roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed
black sesame rice crackers
fish sauce
red chili peppers

Mixing Dried Spices

In a small bowl, combine paprika, sugar, salt, msg or mushroom seasoning, onion powder, and garlic powder. Paprika gives the characteristic red colour and a mild spicy flavor. Omit it if you can't tolerate spicy food.
Blanching Pork Neck Bones

Ask the butcher to chop the pork neck bones into 3 inch chunks. If you use spare ribs have them chop them into 2 inch pieces.

This step is to be done before boiling to remove any impurities from the bones.  In a stock pot, cover the pork with cold water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 minutes before draining.  Remove the pork. Rinse under running cold water. Discard the blanching water. 
Cooking Pork Bone Stock 

Cover the pork bones again with cold water. Add onion and garlic, Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until the meat is cooked through, at least an hour. Frequently skimming any additional foam, and debris from the surface. Add more water if needed. You can make the stock a day ahead.  

Half way through, place the dried shrimps in the tea ball strainer and drop it in the pot with the hanger hangs from the side of the pot.  If you don't have the tea ball strainer, adding shrimps straight into the stock pot is okay.  The dried shrimps add a bit more depth and complexity to the flavor.
Sauteing Pork Belly and Shrimps

In the meantime, slice pork belly.  Trim the legs and tails of shrimps.  If using head-on shrimps, remove heads from shrimps and set aside for later use.

In a skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and annatto seeds over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until the oil becomes a rich, orange-red color, about 3 minutes. Discarding the seeds.

Add minced garlic, and cook until fragrant while stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Add pork belly and stir-fry until the fat is translucent, about 2 minutes. 

Add shrimp heads, if used, then press the shrimp heads with your spatula to bring out the flavor and color. Add shrimps and dried spices, stirring constantly, until shrimps turn pink. Remove skillet from heat.  

Cooking Mì Quảng Broth

By now, the pork neck bones should be cooked and the meat is soft. Transfer the sauteed pork belly and shrimps into the pot of pork bone stock. Bring it back to a slow steady boil. Remove the shrimps from the pot to prevent them from overcooked. Set aside.

Add a tablespoon of fish sauce to boost up the flavor of the broth. Simmer the broth for a little longer, about another 20 minutes.

Preparing Noodle

You can make the noodle from scratch by following this recipe (click here).

You can also get store-bought fresh white noodle. To make the noodle yellow, bring a pot of water and a teaspoon of turmeric powder to a boil. Then add noodle to blanch it for a minute. Drain and set aside.

Dried pre-made mì Quảng noodle or dried wide rice noodle would also work.  Follow the instruction on the package for how to cook the noodle.
Preparing Accompaniments

Banana Blossom: prepare a bowl of water with juice from a lemon. The acidity of lemon will prevent the banana blossom from discoloration. Cut banana blossom lengthwise, peel purple leaves and discard the small flowers in between the leaves. Wash the leaves thoroughly then stack and roll leaves together and finely cut. Place in bowl of water. When you are ready to serve, remove shredded banana blossom for the water bowl and gently squeeze it to remove the access water.

Bean Sprouts, Perilla Leaves, Mint Leaves, and Lettuce: you can keep them separately or mix them together. 

Black Sesame Rice Crackers: untoasted black sesame rice crackers can be found in Asian markets. It can be microwaved for about 2 minutes until crispy. They also sell pre-toasted ones as well.

Fish Sauce and Red Chili Peppers: Mix cut chili peppers and fish sauce in a dipping saucer.  

Roasted Peanuts: coarsely crush the roasted peanuts.

Green Onion and Cilantro: in a bowl, mix thinly sliced green onion and  coarsely chopped cilantro.

In bowl, add noodle, pork neck bone, or spare ribs, slices of pork belly and shrimps. My daughters love fried fish patties so I always add it to mì Quảng bowl. Serve this dish with less broth than other kinds of noodle soup. Therefore, the broth for mì Quảng need to be tasty.  Ladle the hot broth over the noodle bowl (about 1/2 of the bowl). Garnish with green onions and cilantro, then top with roasted peanuts. 

Serve mì Quảng with shredded banana blossom, lettuce and herbs and black sesame rice crackers which you break into small pieces. Mix everything together and enjoy - perhaps with a cup of green tea!
Eat well. Stay healthy.

1 comment:

  1. Made it yesterday. Your recipes and clear instructions have elevated my cooking skills. Thanks a bunch!