Friday, September 10, 2010

Bún măng vịt (Duck and Bamboo Vermicelli Soup)

I realize I have not posted Vietnamese food nor recipes in a while. Well, a visit to my mom's is always a great source for Vietnamese food posts. And what better way to highlight this post than by entering Delicious Vietnam, a blogging event featuring Vietnamese food, hosted this month by Anh from A Food Lovers Journey.

As with every visit home, my mom asked me what I wanted to eat during my stay. In addition to enjoying bánh giò (steamed dumpling with ground pork) and bánh ít trần (mung bean stuffed dumpling), I also requested a dish that we do not often eat: bún măng vịt (bún=vermicelli noodles, măng=bamboo shoots, vịt=duck). I love this soup because of the broth, strongly flavoured from the dry bamboo, the crunch texture of the bamboo (kind of reminds of straw mushrooms - does that help imagine it?) and the fatty duck meat dipped into nước mắm gừng (ginger fish sauce).


Just as phở, the most well known Vietnamese soup (and arguably the most well known Vietnamese dish), bún măng vịt hails from Northern Vietnam. Unlike phở, it is not a mainstream soup and cannot be easily found on restaurant menus. It is distinct due to the use of dry bamboo shoots, which imparts a unique flavour, resulting in a dark, tea-like, slightly pungent broth. While dry bamboo can be found in Asian supermarkets (so my mother tells me), she only uses the ones purchased in Vietnam. My grandmother goes to the market herself and pays a premium for the lower part of the bamboo shoots that are more tender since bamboo shoots can be fibrous. So unfortunately, I cannot speak to the use of store-bought dry bamboo shoots - they may be just tougher.

Bún măng vịt (Duck and Bamboo Vermicelli Soup)
When I called my mom and asked if we could have this soup, I did not give her enough time for preparation. You should plan for a good day because soaking the bamboo shoots take a long time. Unfortunately, I wasn't around when my mom prepared this dish, so there are no how-to pictures.

* 200 g dry bamboo shoots

Soak bamboo for 2-3 hours (or overnight) in boiling water and rinse.
Repeat at least twice until softened (this step also helps remove some of the bitterness from the bamboo).
The bamboo will have softened and also expanded.
Pull apart the softened bamboo into long strings, following along the natural lines of the bamboo.

Dry bamboo.

For the soup
* oil
* onion
* 1 tbsp salt, or to taste
* 2-3 tsp sugar
* one whole duck, skin on
* slices of ginger

In a large soup pot, saute the bamboo with onion in oil.
Season with salt and sugar (the sugar helps balance the bitterness of the bamboo) and add enough water to cover the bamboo shoots.
Turn up the heat until the water boils and turn it down to a simmer.
Meanwhile, cut the duck into pieces.
Season the duck with more salt and pieces of ginger.
Roast the pieces of duck at 350F for 20 minutes and broil to get a golden skin, about 10 minutes on low.
(This step is to render the fat and get the meat golden - the duck pieces can also be fried in a pot.)
Add the cooked duck meat to the soup and add more water to cover everything.
Bring to a simmer.
After an hour or two of cooking, remove the duck pieces if they are cooked so they do not overcook and break apart.
Continue cooking the soup for additional 1-2 hours, for a total of 3-4 hours.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and sugar.

IMG_1202 IMG_1199
Duck leg and bamboo shoots.

For nước mắm gừng - ginger fish sauce

* 1 tbsp water
* 4 tbsp fish sauce
* 3 tbsp sugar
* ginger, greatly minced, or even grated
* lime juice

Nước mắm gừng (ginger fish sauce).

To serve
* bún (rice vermicelli) - how to cook bún
* green onion, sliced thinly
* coriander, washed and leaves picked off

In individual bowls, add a handful of cooked vermicelli, top with the soup.
Garnish with green onions and coriander.
Serve with nước mắm gừng (ginger fish sauce) to dip the meat.

Perfect recipe to start the colder weather.

For other Vietnamese soup recipes:
* Bún Mộc (Vermicelli & Pork Meatball Soup)
* Bún Riêu (Crab and Tomato Soup)
* Canh Gà (Vietnamese flavoured Chicken Broth)
* Canh Hến (Baby Clam Soup)
* Canh Khổ Qua (Bitter Melon Soup)
* Cháo Ca (Fish Porridge)
* Cháo Gà (Chicken Porridge)
* Xúp Bát Bửu (Chinese 8 Treasure Soup)
* Xúp Bột Bán (Tapioca and Crab Soup)
* Xúp Măng Cua (Crab and Asparagus Soup)


Su-Lin said...

I love reading your Vietnamese recipes!

Anh said...

I love love this dish! In Vietnam, sometimes winter bamboo shoot is used. But I think duck + bamboo is perfect together!

Ravenous Couple said...

the time consuming part of preparing the bamboo is so worth it..looks delicious!