food + drink · mains

Vietnamese Style Noodle and Prawn Soup

Vietnamese Noodle Prawn SoupI think it is safe to say that most of us enjoy a warm comforting bowl of soup and with the addition of noodles making it a complete meal… it’s guaranteed to be a winner! Vietnamese food is considered one of the healthiest cuisines, lots of clean flavours with recipes using spices, lots of fresh herbs and vegetables! Carefully balanced broths, stocks and sauces are of great importance, transforming the taste of the simplest dish! Just like the Vietnamese Salad,  Vietnamese Style Noodle and Prawn Soup is quick and easy to prepare for family meals and could also be served as part of an Asian style menu when entertaining!

Rice stick noodles are perfect to use in soups made with a light aromatic stock and people who suffer from gluten and wheat intolerance’s get to enjoy them as well! Rice noodles are best soaked in boiling water and not boiled in a saucepan which can easily turn them to mush! Either way, make sure your noodles are al dente, just like pasta!Dried Rice Noodles, Lime Leaves

The stock has been infused with lime leaves (not Kaffir lime leaf) taken from our lime tree growing in the garden! Unfortunately no limes yet… apparently the tree is still young… at least the lemon tree is starting to bud once again! 🙂  These small lime leaves are very fragrant when torn and it’s such a waste not to put their intoxicating perfume to some culinary use!  As the tree has not been sprayed with any chemical pesticides I am quite happy to use the lime leaves in my cooking!

Using the shell of the prawns when making the stock adds a delicate flavour and the stock only needs a gentle simmer for 20 minutes, with no salt added! Fish sauce and lime juice are the seasonings for this stock so use this recipe as a guide, balancing both according to your taste buds!Vietnamese Prawn Noodle Soup

I thought this was a nice idea and another way to serve Vietnamese soups (Pho), seen over at JungleFrog Cooking blog… putting the garnishes into individual bowls on the table, each person can choose and add what they like to their own bowl of soup! To add more flavour and spice things up a little, leave a bottle of chilli oil on the table to drizzle over the soup!  Use chop sticks to pick up the noodles and prawns when eating and afterwards pick the bowl up with your hands and slurp the delicious and light flavoursome soup from the bowl! Now if that sounds like bad table manners… head for the cutlery drawer!

Vietnamese Style Noodle and Prawn Soup


  • 400g uncooked medium-sized prawns, heads removed and discarded, prawns peeled and deveined, reserve the shells
  • 200g dried (2mm wide) rice stick noodles

for stock

  • 1.5 liters of  water
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced thinly
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, discard tough outer leaves, chop finely
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped coriander root
  • 10 whole black pepper corns
  • 6 lime leaves (optional)

for seasoning

  • 2 limes juiced (approximately)
  • 3 tablespoons of fish sauce (approximately)

for garnish

  • a handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • a handful of fresh mint leaves
  • 2 spring onions, green part, slice thinly, diagonally
  • 2 to 3 small chilli, slice thinly, diagonally
  • chilli oil to drizzle (optional)

How to make: Rinse the prawn shells and add together with the water, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, coriander root, black pepper corns and torn lime leaves into a saucepan, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the stock uncovered for 20 minutes! Strain the stock and return to a cleaned saucepan!

Meanwhile place the rice noodles into a large heat-proof bowl or dish and pour over boiling water to cover completely. After about a minute move the rice noodles around so they do not stick together, check again after another minute! Leave noodles to soak for about 8 to 10 minutes, checking that they are not turning mushy and still have a slight bite to them! Once cooked drain and refresh with cold water. Set aside until needed.

Add the prawns to the stock and simmer for a minute or until prawns have changed colour! Add the lime juice and fish sauce gradually, check seasoning, adding more if required.

Divide the noodles into the bowls, ladle over the stock and divide the prawns. Garnish each bowl with some coriander, mint, spring onion and chilli. Serve immediately. Serves 4

food + drink · posts · salads

Vietnamese Salad

Recently some friends travelled to Vietnam and how I wished they could have packed me in their suitcase! However, they did bring back a little of Vietnam in the form of a cookbook, Vietnamese Food by Bobby Chinn (already a fan) from his restaurant in Saigon. Thank you dear friends… a wonderful foodies gift!

Having indulged recently (not just me) on some home-made bread and desserts it was time to scale down the calories in the household and this Vietnamese Salad made a welcoming change! Not wanting to spend as much time in the kitchen (needing a break), preparing food that is quick and easy without compromising on flavour and taste is first choice.

The taste of this simple salad relies on the freshest ingredients… so no limp herbs, dried out carrots and dry chicken please!

Using a julienne peeler for preparing the carrots for this salad came in very handy but of course you can use a good sharp knife instead!

The original recipe uses birds-eye chillies, but I opted to use medium chillies instead. Depending on your tolerance level to the spicy heat (Scoville scale) of different chillies you may want to de-seed them! You could also make this salad with prawns instead of chicken, replace the basil with mint and scatter over a few roasted peanuts on top, the choice is yours! Bursting with fresh clean flavours this salad makes you feel good after you’ve eaten it and the only shame would be… not to make it!

 Vietnamese Salad

The recipe below has been adapted from the cookbook Vietnamese Food by Bobby Chinn.


  • 4 small skinless chicken fillets, poached (see note below)
  • 2 star anise
  • fresh chicken stock or make some using a stock cube
  • 4 lemon grass stalks, tough outer leaves removed and very finely sliced
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 to 4 medium chillies de-seeded (or not), finely snipped using kitchen scissors
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and cut into very fine matchsticks (100g)
  • 50g thinly sliced white onions
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • 100ml of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil (I used Thai basil from the garden)
  • 1/4 cup of freshly chopped coriander

Poaching the chicken: Place the chicken fillets in a single layer into a saucepan and pour in some chicken stock to cover, add the star anise. Bring the stock to a gently boil and immediately reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook the chicken for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover the saucepan with a lid and allow the chicken to further cook in the hot stock for about 20 minutes. Test the thickest part of the chicken to make sure it is cooked through, if not, bring the stock back to a simmer and leave (removing from heat) to cook for a couple of minutes more. When done transfer the cooked chicken fillet onto a plate and cool.

Assembling the salad: Place the lemon grass, spring onion, chilli, carrots, onions and garlic into a mixing bowl. Shred the cooled chicken and add to the mixing bowl. Pour over the lime juice and gently toss all the ingredients together. Next throw in the basil and coriander and gently toss together. Divide the salad between four serving plates and serve immediately. Serves 4.