Chicken soup with glass noodles is a Vietnamese dish that is guaranteed to comfort on any miserable day!
There are times in Canberra that are so cold I believe the only ones roaming outside are the white walkers (Game of Thrones characters that are frozen and weird). On these days, I generally avoid leaving the comfort of my bed, but when my little girl is awake even the laziest of us must eventually get up. The upside of being cold is that it opens up to a number of winter warmer recipes. One of my favourites is this very simple variation of chicken noodle soup called Mien Ga (translates to vermicelli chicken).
My version of this dish uses my chicken stock recipe that forms the base of a lot of my soups. It requires a few more ingredients than most other recipes but I believe it is well worth it. It is of utmost importance for the stock to be on point in a noodle soup dish. If the soup is lifeless and bland then the whole dish will fall flat on its face no matter how good the other elements are. So, give your stock a little extra love and care, and it will go a long way in developing a fantastic soup.
Another element I have learnt to give a little more attention to is the noodles. There have been plenty of times when I have destroyed the noodles by letting it cook for far too long. I was the worst repeat offender in the country until I discovered the secret to good firm noodles. Don’t leave them unattended. Ever.
If you haven’t noticed by now, I am a sprinkler. I can’t help but garnish all my dishes to kingdom come. I know I overdo it at times but the flavour, colour and texture it adds just takes it to another level. In this particular noodle soup there is black fungus, spring onion, coriander and deep fried shallots. Without these elements, there would be no freshness or life to the dish. So, please… do not skimp on the garnishes!
My last words on this post is like all my others. Give this recipe a go. It is a dish I serve regularly to my family and have fine tuned over numerous attempts. So I can assure you that it tastes great!
Vietnamese Chicken Soup with Glass Noodles - Mien Ga
This delicious chicken soup with glass noodles or mien ga is a Vietnamese dish that is guaranteed to comfort! Mien ga is a perfect recipe for lunch or dinner with the family on any cold and miserable day!
- 20 gm shredded black fungus / wood ear mushroom (available at Asian groceries and buy the one that is already shredded)
- 300 gm glass / bean vermicelli noodles
- 1 whole chicken (1.8 kg / 4 lb), cleaned and not frozen
- 2.5 L boiling water
- 2 brown onions, quatered
- 5 garlic cloves, flattened
- 1 large swede / rutabaga, peeled and chopped into small pieces
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped into small pieces
- 30 gm ginger, sliced
- 5 coriander roots (buy coriander with the roots attached or omit)
- 4 tbsp / 60 ml fish sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- Fresh cracked pepper
- 1 bunch coriander, chopped
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- 4 tbsp fried shallots (available at Asian groceries)
- 2 fresh chillies, chopped (optional)
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
Prep the vegetables and chicken. (Note 1)
In a large pot, bring 2.5 L of water to the boil and add the whole chicken breast side down. Allow the chicken to boil vigorously for 5 mins.
Turn down the heat to medium low and scoop up the scum/fat on the surface with a spoon. (Note 2)
Add the salt, sugar, fish sauce and chopped vegetables to the stock pot. Continue to simmer on a medium - low heat for 1 hr 15 mins. Remove any visible scum build up on the surface of the soup. (Note 3)
After 1 hr 15 mins remove the chicken from the pot and let it rest on a plate for 10 minutes. Check the chicken to see if it is cooked. If not, pop it back into the pot and cook until done. (Note 4)
Let the soup simmer for another 15 mins (total 1 hour 30 mins) then strain the soup into a large bowl and press as much liquid from the vegetables as you can.
Soak the black fungus in plenty of boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain and then rinse with tap water. Set aside.
Pour the soup back into a clean pot on a low heat setting. You should have roughly 2 to 2.3 L of soup.
Soak the bean vermicelli noodles for 8 - 10 minutes in plenty of warm water or follow the directions as per the packaging. (Note 5)
Add the black fungus to the broth and cook for 5 minutes. Then scoop the fungus out and set it aside for assembly.
Check the soup for seasoning and adjust according to taste. Note: Use fish sauce to adjust salt content or water to dilute or make more soup. (Note 6)
Ensure the broth is brought up to a solid boil.
Place the soften vermicelli noodles into each bowl.
Tear chicken pieces and lay them on top of the noodles.
Pour the boiling soup over noodles and chicken.
Sprinkle garnishes on top. I usually go coriander, spring onions, fried shallots and then chilli.
- Cutting the vegetables into smaller pieces will help the soup extract more flavour.
- I personally like a little bit of fat left in the soup for more flavour but if you want to get rid of it then skim it off with a spoon. You can also cool the stock in the fridge and remove the fat once it has coagulated on the surface.
- If you want to avoid the fish sauce smell while cooking the soup, add it after the soup has been strained. This however, will cause the chicken and vegetables to not absorb any salt which will case the soup to have a higher salt content. I recommend initially adding 3 tbsp of fish sauce and then tasting the soup every tbsp after that.
- Keep the chicken whole for as long as possible. Only tear pieces of chicken just before serving to avoid drying out the chicken meat. Also, there will be some chicken left over from the meal. Be sure to have a recipe in mind to use up the leftovers.
- I use Pine Brand Vermicelli Noodles which suggests a soak time of 7 + mins. However, not all noodles are the same, so it is best to go with the instructions on the packet.
- If you need to stretch the soup out with more boiling water, then I suggest adding chicken bouillon powder and more fish sauce. This will help maintain the flavour of the soup.