This very simple noodle soup really hits the spot every time and is great for days when you want a soup but don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. There is something so comforting about thick noodles; they are almost luxuriously pillowy. Here, I use Japanese udon noodles for ease. Apart from the beautiful flavour of broth that free-range pork belly gives, the crispy fried shallots, add wonders to it and it makes you wonder how something so tiny be so full of flavours! Plus the pleasing zing of lime juice brings everything together. If this becomes your mid-week household favourite, remember that it’s an excellent base to add leftover vegetables or whatever you have to hand.
- Fry the shallots in the oil over a low heat until golden, then remove from the heat and drain (saving the oil). Leave to dry on kitchen paper. They will continue to brown and crisp. Save the flavourful oil and crispy shallots in two separate containers for future uses with noodle soups and to top up rice, noodles and salads
- Put the pork in a large saucepan and add enough boiling water to submerge the meat. Leave to sit for 5 minutes, then drain and discard the water. Then cover the meat with the measured amount of fresh boiling water and add the onion, daikon, sea salt, rock sugar and chicken or pork seasoning, if using. Bring to the boil, then cover and cook for 1 hour, skimming off any scum that surfaces.
- Remove the pork from the broth and leave to cool to room temperature. Slice thinly. Remove the daikon and slice up to serve or discard. Add the fish sauce to the broth and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions.
- Place the noodles into bowls with the toppings of coriander, spring onion, crispy shallots and chilli. Add the fish cakes, if using, plus the slices of pork belly, and decorate with some leaves of choice and a good seasoning of black pepper. When ready to serve, bring the broth to the boil and ladle it over the contents. Squeeze over a generous amount of lime juice and serve with fish sauce at the table, if required.
Recipes excerpted with permission Vietnamese by Uyen Luu, published by Hardie Grant Books May 2021, RRP $32.50 Hardcover. Photos by Uyen Luu.