Duck and bamboo vermicelli noodle soup or bún măng vịt is a permanent fixture at my parent’s weekend dinners. This simple and rich vermicelli soup is a dish that one will not find at a restaurant. This is comfort food at its core. A whole duck is boiled for 45 minutes to create a fragrant and rich broth. The duck is then cut into bit size pieces and ready to be dipped in a garlic ginger fish sauce. The bowl of noodle soup is topped with bamboo shoots simply sauteed with some seasoning and a salad of lettuce, cabbage and mints. This is a meal that is best served with family and friends as you’ll guarantee to fight over the meatiest parts of the duck.
This dish takes 1 – 1.5 hours to prepare. The recipe serves approximately 8 portions and is rated medium in difficulty.
1 whole duck
1 package of dried bamboo shoots (If you don’t have this, you can use the can version.)
8 tablespoons of fish sauce (for broth and sauce)
1 knob of ginger (enough for 8 large slices)
3 tablespoons of mushroom seasoning (for bamboo shoots and broth)
3 ½ tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of rock sugar
½ tablespoon of minced garlic
2 red Thai chili (optional for sauce)
Ground black pepper
1 to 2 limes
3 stalks of spring onion
1 head of lettuce
1 head of cabbage
A bunch of mint
A. Cook the duck and season the broth
In a large stock pot that can fit a whole duck fully submerged, boil 6 liters or 1.6 gallon of water. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of rock sugar to the water.
When the water comes to a boil, place all the duck innards and the duck into the pot.
Boil for 45 minutes. Skim off the fat and any residue that floats to the top. If the water evaporates too much, add more water back to the original water line.
Remove the duck after 45 minutes of boiling in the water. Do no leave it longer in the boiling water as the meat will dry out. The objective is to have the meat tender and chewy. The duck will be finished when you poke a hole into the duck meat and the liquid comes out clear. Remove from the broth and let it rest.
Once the duck is removed, add 5 large slices of ginger into the pot.
Skim off the excess fat and impurities until the broth is clear.
Add the the white ends of the scallion to the broth. Season the broth with 1 tablespoon of rock sugar, 4 tablespoons of fish sauce and 2 tablespoons of mushroom seasonings.
Keep the broth on low boil while you are serving the noodle soup.
Using a cleaver or a heavy knife, remove the wings and legs. Split the duck body in half and thinly slice the breast meat. Cut the remaining bony part of the duck into 2-3 inch pieces.
B. Sauté the bamboo shoots
Soak the dried bamboo shoot in cold water for three hours or until they become softened.
Shredded the bamboo shoots into thin threads and cut the strips further in half.
Marinate the bamboo shoots with ½ tablespoon of sugar, ¼ teaspoon of ground pepper and 1 tablespoon of mushroom seasoning.
Heat a small pan on high and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Dice 1 stalk of green onions. Add the green onions to the oil and sauté for 1 minute until the onions become yellow and crispy.
Add the bamboo shoots and sauté for approximately 5 minutes.
Add in 3 tablespoons of the duck broth into the pan and cover with a lid for another 10 minutes on medium heat. Set the bamboo shoots aside.
C. Cook the noodles
In a separate pot, boil vermicelli noodles according to the package instruction. Rinse with cold water thoroughly to ensure the starch has been removed. Set aside.
D. Make the ginger fish dipping sauce
Combined in a bowl and stir in 1 direction until the sugar has dissolved.
2 tablespoons of minced ginger, ½ tablespoon of minced garlic, 4 tablespoons of fish sauce, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 2 small Thai red chili pepper (diced) for some heat
E. Make the salad accompaniment
Thinly slice 1 head of green iceberg lettuce and red cabbage.
Add a bunch of mint to the mix and toss well.
Thinly dice three stalks of green onions (the green portion) and thinly slice the white portion lengthwise.
Rough chop the cilantro
Cut the lime into wedges to serve with the soup.
Place a handful of noodles to the bottom of the bowl and top with a few slices of duck and bamboo shoots. Fill the bowl with the broth and garnish with cilantro. Serve the soup with a handful of the salad, a wedge of lime and a side of the garlic ginger fish sauce.
When you are ready to eat, add a handful of the salad to your bowl and give a small squeeze of lime to brighten up the rich broth. Dip the duck slices into the sauce and eat them with a spoonful of noodles and bamboo.