Bun mang vit (duck and bamboo vermicelli noodle soup) is absolutely one of our favorite Vietnamese noodle soups–yes, we seem to say that about all the Vietnamese soups we make–but really, who’s counting? You may not find this soup at most Vietnamese restaurants, but believe us–it’s delicious, comforting, and not any harder then making pho or other soups.
The deep and fragrant broth of this soup comes from the juicy duck and along with dried bamboo. Using dried bamboo is a must–if you prefer to add fresh bamboo, that’s fine too, but don’t skip out on the dried bamboo as the flavor and texture will not be the same. We’re very particular about our broth and use chicken bones as well. But as with all good things–there is only one easy but time consuming part of this dish and that is working with the dried bamboo.
Dried bamboo is brown and can be found in any Asian market. There are many varieties..some appear yellow and have liquid it in–avoid these as they are sour type of young bamboo. You want the really dried ones that almost look like thick pieces of twine and has a distinct “dried” smell when you open it. The key to this dish is to get rid of that smell and make the twine like bamboo tender.
Accompaniments include a goi vit–duck salad/slaw, composed of thinly shredded red/white cabbage, herbs such as mint, coriander, perilla, topped with slices of duck and topped with a ginger fish sauce, nuoc mam gung. The ginger fish sauce is also used as a dipping sauce for the duck.
Bun Mang Vit (Duck and Bamboo Noodle Soup)
- 1 whole duck (preferably fresh–if not available, use about 4 duck thighs/quarters)
- 3 lbs chicken bones/carcasses (for a short cut, you can use chicken broth)
- about 4 qts water
- 2 packages of dried bamboo
- 2 knobs of ginger, peeled. 1 knob finely minced
- 1 stalk lemongrass, white end slightly crushed
- fish sauce and nuoc mam cham
- 1 small head of cabbage (red/white or both) sliced thin as possible
- herbs: mint, perilla, coriander
- fried shallots
- Thai chili pepper, chopped
- scallions, chopped
- cilantro, chopped
- vermicelli noodles, boiled and drained
The dried bamboo needs to be re-hydrated and removed of that dried smell by boiling. This is the key step. Ideally have two pots of water ready. In one pot, bring the bamboo to boil for about 15 -20 minutes. Drain–the liquid will be dark yellow and the smell is quite strong. Put back the bamboo into the other boiling pot and boil again for another 15-20 mins and in the meantime refill the first pot with water and bring to boil again. The bamboo will eventually increase in volume and softness. Repeat until bamboo is soft and tender to the bite and there is very faint if any hint of dried bamboo smell. We boil it about 3-4 times. When it’s ready, trim the bamboo into bite size pieices, about 2-3 inches long. (Some regions in Vietnam like to stir fry the bamboo at this point, but don’t’ find it makes huge difference)
During this time, boil the vermicelli and make the broth. Add the chicken bones/carcasses in a large stock pot and fill about 4 qts or enough to cover the bones. Bring to boil and remove the gunk with a skimmer. After about 20 mins so, use tongs and discard the chicken bones/carcasses. Add the trimmed bamboo, 1 knob of ginger and lemongrass to the broth.
When we make this soup using a whole duck, we trim off a lot of excess fat from the duck and render it out and save the fat. If using duck quarters, we like to marinate it briefly with some sprinkle of salt and sliced ginger. When the chicken broth is ready, add the duck and bring to boil and then simmer for about 40 minutes (about 20 minutes for duck quarters). Remove the duck and place in container covering with plastic wrap. Also, discard the lemongrass stalk and knob of ginger.
Now season the broth with salt and bit of sugar. It’s hard to give exact measurements here, but just go slowly and trust your taste buds. When the duck cools down enough to handle, carve it up and chop with cleaver.
To make the nuoc mam gung/ginger fish sauce, you can just use nuoc mam cham and add it the minced ginger along with a few more splashes of fish sauce as this sauce is supposed to be slightly more stronger in fish sauce flavor to complement the strong flavor of the ginger. We like a lot of ginger, but use as much or as little as you like. Add a chopped red chiles to taste.
To make the goi vit, combine in mixing bowl the cabbage and herbs. Dress with a bit of nuoc mam cham. Top with slices of duck and ginger fish sauce and fried shallots.
So don’t limit yourself with just pho….try bun mang vit and it’ll will rock your world!