Duck and Bamboo Noodle Soup – Bun Mang Vit

28 Dec

It’s been a while since I tried a new dish, and this super flavorful soup came to mind as something nice to make my Mr. Bun Mang Vit (boon mong yit) Duck and Bamboo Noodle Soup one of his favorite soups, and we have to visit specific restaurants to get a good serving. After a cursory search on the Web, this dish appeared to be surprisingly simple. Instant win. 

There are a lot of steps, but it works out as you can do them in order and the whole meal takes around 45 minutes. Not bad for a from-scratch soup that comes out looking and tasting as delicious as this:

Duck and Bamboo Noodle Soup with cabbage and herb salad

The shopping list had a couple of items new to my kitchen: duck (first timer!) and dried bamboo shoots.

Bun Mang Vit – Duck and Bamboo Noodle Soup

Serves 2 with leftovers, or 4 in one sitting

For Soup

  • Duck leg quarters 
  • 1 bag boiled bamboo shoots
  • Large chunk ginger
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 3 quarts water/chicken broth (more on that later)
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Vermicelli noodles

For Salad/Accompaniments

  • Small head of cabbage (we used half)
  • Mint, Rau Ram (Coriander), Thai Basil
  • Crispy fried shallots

Nuoc Mam Gung – Ginger Fish Sauce Dipping Sauce

  • 2 inch piece ginger, finely minced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2-3 tbs Fish Sauce
  • 2-3 tbs Sugar
  • Chilis or Sambal Garlic Chili 
  • Optional: 1 or 2 garlic cloves, finely minced

As I mentioned, there are many parts to this, but they fit together quite well. Here’s how I did it without flailing around.

1. Get those bamboo shoots going: Bring a pot of water to boil and add the bamboo shoots. You may want to light a candle/open a window, your house will be um…fragrant…in no time. 

Until now I’ve always purchased the canned bamboo for stir-fry, or the fresher jarred version in a chili oil (great with simple meat dishes and rice). On my hunt for rice paper roll trays – more on that later – I picked up a bag of boiled bamboo shoots from the produce section, which seemed like they would save me a chunk of time. All of the recipes I found online called for the dried versions that take boiling, boiling, and boiling some more. These took a fraction of the time and taste just as delicious. 

Boiled bamboo shoots

2. Make the noodles: Prepare according to package, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

3. Prepare the duck: While the bamboo shoots are boiling, rinse the duck quarters and trim off any excess skin/fat if you’d like. Slice a little of the ginger and place on the duck quarters with a little sprinkle of salt to hang out. Set aside.

Duck leg quarters marinating with sliced ginger and salt.

4. Prepare the broth: I had a little more than a quart of chicken broth left from Thanksgiving, so I used my trusty Chicken Soup Broth Base to round out the liquid. If you want to make your own – go for it. If you want to use all liquid broth or just water + powdered soup base you can do that, too. Just get 3 quarts of the liquid going and throw in a 2 inch piece of peeled and bruised ginger, and one stalk of lemongrass with the white part bruised with your knife. 

By this time, the shoots should have been boiling about 20 minutes – give one a taste and see if it’s bite-tender. Even though they were boiled to begin with, they will still expand and look like this:

Boiled bamboo shoots

Drain and cut into smaller pieces – the strands are reeeeallly long. you want them to be bite-sized, not noodle length as they’re still tricky to bite through. Add cut bamboo shoots to the broth and bring to a boil.

Add marinated duck, bring (back) to a boil and then reduce to a bubbling simmer, uncovered. 

5. Prepare Nuoc Mam Gung Dipping Sauce: You want to flavors to blend together and get happy, so don’t leave this to the end. This is my husband’s favorite sauce – probably because it’s on the sweeter side. Start small with the sugar and add more to your liking – we’re probably on the sweetest side of the scale.

Finely mince a 2 inch piece of peeled ginger. Add 2-3 tbs sugar. Juice 2 limes. Add 2-3 tbs fish sauce. Mix well to dissolve the sugar. We like some spice, so you can add Sambal Chili Garlic sauce and omit the minced garlic, or add a Thai chili and your own garlic. 

6. Make Vegetable and Herb ‘Salad’: This is my favorite part of Bun Mang Vit. Whenever my husband orders this at the restaurant I steel his vegetables. 

Shred/slice verrry thinly your cabbage – 1/2 a head will do as this makes a lot. Next time I’ll get red cabbage for some bright color, but no matter. Wash and rough chop Rau Ram Vietnamese Coriander, Mint and Thai Basil, and toss with the shredded cabbage. Isn’t this beautiful? It smells divine, too!

Shredded cabbage with Vietnamese Coriander, Mint and Thai basil

We don’t use many accompaniments beyond this salad, but if you do now is the time to prepare your herb plate with bean sprouts, cilantro, more Thai basil, Coriander, and lime quarters.

7. Assemble the bowls:  The duck quarters should be finished cooking after simmering for 45 minutes or so. Remove from the both and set aside to chop. Also toss the big piece of ginger and lemongrass stalk. Taste the broth and make any final adjustments. I was proud when Hubs tasted the broth and said “Wow, this is pretty much there! Maybe just a little sugar?” This is his answer to everything, so I was happy to add a teaspoon of sugar for effect. 

Grab some noodles and ladle over the savory, pungent broth and bamboo shoots.

Noodles with Bamboo Shoots and broth

Make the salad, top with duck and crispy onions for each person, or place a big plate of each in the center of the table – up to you!

Cabbage and herb salad topped with sliced duck and crispy onions

You can either drizzle the Nuoc Mam Gung on top of the salad and duck, or have little bowls for each person to dip bites of duck and spoon in to their own soup to taste.

A lot of words and steps, but this really is a breeze to make. Just make sure you have a strong breeze to air out the kitchen after you’re finished.

Now I’ve gotta run and get the house ready for my sister in law’s birthday game night. My husband has predictably requested Bun Rieu Cua, but I’ve got some other goodies I’m adding to the table that won’t cook them selves.

Enjoy the last weekend of 2013!

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