What is hu tieu?
The dish, hu tieu (pronounced: hoo-tjee-dju) comes from Southwestern Vietnam and is widely served at the floating markets in the Mekong Delta. The dish is basically a sweet noodle soup made from a broth of pork bones and some sugar for a sweet undertone.
The ingredients are flexible and the noodles in the soup can be Vietnamese rice noodles, Chinese egg noodles or round tapioca pearls. It can contain meat, such as pork, pork ribs, offal, and even squid. Possible toppings include spring onion, crispy fried onions, garlic and wonton dumplings. It is the ultimate do-it-yourself soup.
Different versions are available but the rules and ingredients are not fixed. Don’t be surprised if the hu tieu isn’t sweet, doesn’t contain any fish sauce or comes with a piece of meat and a large bone.
Some variants include:
Hu tieu nam vang: hu tieu from Phnom Penh. The broth for this Cambodian-inspired version is drawn from dried squid and the soup is served with shrimp.
Hu tieu My Tho: the version from My Tho is less sweet and is served with a large piece of meat on the bone and offal meat.
Hu tieu mi: noodles, minced pork and strips of tender meat.
Hu tieu tau: Chinese hu tieu with egg noodles.
Hu tieu Sa Dec: the version from Sa Dec, with tapioca noodles.
How to prepare hu tieu
First, a broth is prepared from pork bones, dried shrimp, onion and sugar. All the other ingredients are optional and can vary. Meat and fish or shrimp is cooked in the sieved broth or fried in some oil. The meat is then cut into slices and added to the broth along with cooked noodles and/or fish. The soup is garnished with crispy fried shallots and garlic.
Typical condiments that can be added at home include fresh herbs, Chinese celery, beansprouts, small red chillies and lime wedges. Black pepper is a must.
How to eat
The Vietnamese eat their noodle soup with chopsticks and a soup spoon.