The liquid comes last when you dish up these light and leanVietnamese-style dinner soups. One is based on meat-filled cabbagerolls; the other is chicken noodle with a fresh twist. A tureen holds steaming, flavorful broth.
Other ingredients–meat,vegetables, rice or nooddles, and seasonings–are offered separately ina colorful display. You put what you want, in the proportions youchoose, into your own bowl, then ladle in the hot, clear broth. Thesesoups are particularly appealing when tastes in the household diverge orpreferences of guests are unknown.
Cook these soups with readily available ingredients. Or exploreAsian markets for dry bean thread noodles, thin dry rice noodles,amber-colored fish sauce, and curly fungus. Vietnamese Cabbage RollSoup (Canh Bap Cai Goi Thit) 2 ounces dry bean thread noodles (optional)Water 8 green onions, each at least 12 inches long 2 loose heads (about2 lb. each) savoy or regular cabbage 2-1/2 quarts regular-strengthchicken broth 1 pound ground lean pork 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced1/2 teaspoon pepper Fish sauce or soy sauce 1/3 cup chopped cilantro(coriander) 4 cups hot cooked rice Seasoning sauce (recipe follows Soak bean threads in warm water to cover until soft, about 20minutes; drain. Cut top 8 to 10 inches off green onions. Split each section ofonion top in half lengthwise. Trim roots and finely chop white part ofonions; set both parts aside.
Remove and discard bruised outer leaves of cabbage; cut out anddiscard core. Holding cabbage under running water, carefully removeleaves 1 at a time, letting the water help separate leaves withouttearing. Cut large leaves in half lengthwise along stiff rib; cut outand discard rib. Use smaller leaves whole. Each cabbage piece shouldbe about 4 by 5 inches; trim leaves, if needed, to make this size.Reserve trimmings and undersize leaves. In a 5- to 6-quart pan, bring the broth and 1 quart water toboiling. Push cabbage leaves, a few at a time, into the broth.
Cook,uncovered, just until leaves are wilted, about 2 minutes. With a slottedspoon, lift out leaves and drain. Also push onion tops into the brothand cook just until wilted, about 30 seconds. Lift out and drain.Reserve broth (if made ahead, cover and chill broth). Cut bean threads into 2-inch lengths. Blend threads with pork,garlic, pepper, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, and 1/3 cup chopped greenonion.
On long side of each leaf, shape 1 tablespoon pork filling into a2-inch log. Fold a long edge of leaf over filling, then fold sides overfilling; roll up to enclose (see far left picture). Tie a piece ofonion top around center of each roll. (If made ahead, cover and chillup to overnight.) Remove and discard fat from reserved broth. Bring broth toboiling. Add cabbage rolls and simmer, uncovered, until meat is nolonger pink in center (cut to test), 6 to 7 minutes. Lift rolls frombroth and place on a platter.
Cut reserved cabbage into 1/4-inch-widestrips and add to broth; boil just until bright green, about 1 minute.Add fish sauce to taste. Pour borth into a tureen and sprinkle withremaining chopped onion and cilantro. Put rice in another bowl. To serve, fill individual bowls about halfway with rice; spooncabbage rolls and broth over rice. Offer seasoning sauce. Makes 4 to 6servings.
Seasoning sauce. Mix 1/4 cup each fish sauce (or soy sauce) andwater; 2 tablespoons lime juice; 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced; 2tablespoons sugar; 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried hot red chilies.North Vietnamese Chicken Soup Dinner (Bun Thang) 3 quartsregular-strength chicken broth 1 broiler-fryer chicken (3-1/2 to 4 lb.),cut up Fish sauce or soy sauce 1/4 cup dry black fungus (cloud ears orwood ears), optional Water 1/4 pound chicken hearts or gizzards 1tablespoon salad oil 1/2 pound bean sprouts 1 cup cilantro (coriander)springs 4 whole green onions, thinly sliced Noodles (directions follow)Egg strips (recipe follows) Seasoning sauce (see cabbage roll souprecipe, preceding) 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1/4 cup minced cilantro In an 8- to 10-quart pan, bring chicken broth to boiling. Setaside chicken heart and gizzard; reserve liver for other uses.
Addchicken, except breast, to broth; cover and simmer 25 minutes. Addbreast and continue simmering, covered, until breast is white at bone(cut to test), about 20 minutes longer. Lift out chicken; let cool.Skim off and discard fat from broth. (If made ahead, cool broth, cover,and chill up to 2 days.) Add fish sauce to taste. Pull off and discardskin and bones from chicken; tear meat into thin shreds.
(If made ahead,cover and chill up to 2 days. Let warm to room temperature.) Soak fungus in hot water until soft, about 15 minutes; drain. Pinchout and discard tough knobby center. Cut fungus into julienne strips.Cut off and discard tough membrane from hearts or gizzards; cut thesegiblets into julienne strips. In a 6-to 8-inch frying pan, stir gibletsin salad oil over high heat until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Stirin fungus and 2 teaspoons fish sauce.
(If made ahead, cool, cover, andchill.) Serve warm or at room temperature. To present soup, put condiments in separate bowls: chicken,giblets, bean sprouts, cilantro sprigs, 1/2 cup of the green onion,noodles, egg strips, and seasoning sauce.
Return broth to boiling andpour into tureen; sprinkle with remaining green onion, pepper, andminced cilantro. Add condiments to individual bowls to taste, then fillwith broth. Flavor as desired with seasoning sauce. Makes 6 servings. Noodles. In a 5- to 6-quart pan, bring about 3 quarts water toboiling.
Add about 1 pound dry thin rice noodles (mai fun or ricesticks) or dry vermicelli. Boil, uncovered, until barely tender tobite, 2 to 3 minutes for rice noodles, 9 minutes for vermicelli. Drain;rinse with hot water and drain well. Serve warm or at room temperature. Egg strips. Beat 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon water to blend. Place anonstick 8- to 10-inch frying pan over medium-low heat. Brush 1teaspoon salad oil over bottom and slightly up sides of pan.
When panis hot, pour in 1/4 cup egg mixture and quickly tilt pan to coat bottomevenly. Cook just until egg feels dry on top. Turn out onto papertowels. Repeat process to cook remaining egg; turn out over first eggcake and let cool. Cut cakes into 1/4-inch-wide strips. (If made ahead,cover and chill up to 2 days.) Serve at room temperature.