This dish is one of the popular noodle dishes of Vietnam and greatly enjoyed by locals and travellers alike. The Vietnamese tend to use it as a celebratory food but relish it at any time.



Ingredients:
  • 1 kg (~2 lbs) of small bones or pork spare ribs cut into 5 cm lengths (2 in)
  • 4  shallots,
  • 2-4  dried shrimp or 1/2 tsp shrimp paste
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • 1 tbs of garlic
  • 250 gm (1/2 lb) pork belly
  • 250 gm (1/2 lb) whole shrimp
  • 2 Tbsp annato seeds (for colouring)
  • 30 ml (1 oz) Olive Oil
  • 3 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 pkt of  *Mì Quảng noodles
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 Tbsp tumeric powder
  • bean sprouts
  • perilla leaves (tia to)
  • mint leaves (rau thom)
  • banana blossom**(not essential)
  • lime wedges
  • cilantro (chopped or separated)
  • green scallions (thinly sliced)
  • roasted peanuts (coarsely crushed)
  • Black sesame rice crackers (in asian markets)

Method:
  1. Blanch and clean the bones by boiling for approx 5 minutes Drain and clean the bones under running water, remove any adhering material from  the pot .
  2. Return the bones to the pot  with shallots and dried shrimp/shrimp paste. Add water to cover and simmer for about 2 hrs.
  3. Remove bones and season broth with salt and tsp of sugar. You can leave spareribs in the soup but remove other bones.
  4. If Mi Quang noodles aren't available  bring a medium sized pot of water to boil, add wide pho noodles, after about 3-4 minutes, add oil and tumeric powder, and stir. Add more turmeric if needed for deeper colour. Noodles are done when al dente. Drain or reserve if there will be a delay in serving the dish, and set aside.
  5. To make annato seed oil, heat 30 ml (1 oz) of olive or vegetable oil in large wok or saute pan and add about 2 Tbsp of annato seeds. As the temperature rises, the red color will seep out of the annato seeds. Strain and discard seeds. Leave this out if there's a known allergy to annatto. It's used purely as a food colourant in this recipe.
  6. Using the annatto oil or plain Olive oil, saute garlic, shallots, paprika and pork. Add shrimp in the final two minutes of cooking. Season and remove from the heat.

Serving:
  1. Add noodles, the sauteed pork and shrimp to individual bowls.(If the noodles have cooled during the preparation of the dish then heap them in a spaghetti collander or sieve and immerse for a few seconds in a pot of boiling water or reserved turmeric broth with a little cautious agitation to reheat them).
  2. Fill  approx 1/4 of the bowl with broth.
  3. Add bean sprouts, mint, perilla leaves, banana blossom, cilantro, and green scallions.
  4. Top with toasted peanuts and fragments of black sesame rice crackers .

Notes:
**Cut banana blossom lengthwise, peel  the inner purple leaves and use these. Discard the inner embryonic fruit . Slice these leaves finely. Immediately place in bowl of water with about 1 tbs of salt or lime juice to prevent from oxidising.

Annatto is a natural food dye and used widely. It does have a significant incidence of hypersensitivity associated reactions . It is not considered a major food allergen by the FDA at this time.