Recipe: Vietnamese noodle soup with pork balls


Prep time: 40 min? Cook time: 1 hr. Serves:4-6

Vietnamese noodle soup with pork balls is a great winter warmer recipe, with lots of zingy and uplifting flavours

For the balls:

1 large egg
2 tbsp plain flour
500 g pork shoulder, minced
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tbsp coriander, chopped
2 tbsp ginger, grated
3 tbsp Vietnamese dipping sauce, available at large supermarkets or Asian stores
For the soup:

2 tbsp olive oil
2.5 litres chicken stock
1 cinnamon stick
4 spring onions, sliced lengthways
5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 star anise
For the noodles:

300 g rice noodles
1 Thai red chilli, seeds removed and sliced
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 shallots, thinly sliced
150 g bean sprouts
coriander, to serve
basil, to serve
lime wedges, to serve

1. For the balls: Beat the egg with the plain flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the minced pork, spring onions, coriander, ginger and dipping sauce and mix with your hands until well combined.

2. Form the mixture into 16–18 balls each 4cm in diameter, packing each one firmly.

3. Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan and add the balls in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. Brown the balls for 3 minutes on each side, then remove them from the pan and set aside.

4. For the soup: In a separate large pan, add the chicken stock, cinnamon, spring onions, fresh ginger, sugar, salt, fish sauce and star anise, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes to let the flavours infuse. Strain the broth into another pan and taste for flavour – you can add a little dipping sauce if it needs a boost. Turn the heat back on, drop in the pork balls and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the balls are cooked through.

5. For the noodles: Meanwhile, drop the noodles into a pan of boiling water and cook for 2 minutes, then drain, refresh under cold water and drain again. Pour the soy sauce into a little dish and add the sliced chilli.

6. Drop the beansprouts into a saucepan of boiling water. Return to the boil and cook for 1 minute, then drain. Refresh in ice cold water and drain again.

7. Divide the noodles, shallots and beansprouts between your serving bowls. Pour over the broth and balls and garnish with coriander, basil and a wedge of lime. Serve the chilli soy sauce on the side to mix in if you require an extra flavour kick.

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