Vietnamese Chicken and Bamboo Noodle Soup - Bun Mang Ga
Easy - You got this
You can often tell a dish is Vietnamese when it’s accompanied by a bowl of sweet, savoury and sticky dipping sauce nuoc cham (Vietnamese fish sauce dipping sauce). Yet in my opinion, the one type of meal that characterises Vietnamese cuisine is noodle soups outside of the more popular but complex pho and bun bo hue (BBH), all of which deliver the same feeling of a big warm hug in a bowl of soup.
Pho is arguably Vietnam’s most famous noodle soup but isn’t often consumed in Vietnamese households on weeknights. When she found herself tight on time but with a craving for Vietnamese noodle soups, Mum would nourish our family with chicken bamboo noodle soup—one of my all time favourites. Bamboo noodle soup is often served with poached duck or chicken and a dipping sauce. Whenever mum cooked this at home, there was one particular flavour in her sauce that drew me in time and time again: ginger.
Duck and chicken can be used interchangeably in this recipe. If you’re short on time, chicken is the one to go for. The poaching process creates chicken breast that’s juicy, and dark meat that’s just cooked through. The flavours of bun mang ga (chicken and bamboo noodle soup) are very subtle; a light broth naturally flavoured from poaching the chicken with ginger, fish sauce and onion. Once the bamboo is incorporated, the broth is elevated to a subtle woody, earthy and tart profile. These flavours are carried through each mouthful with the aid of soft and slightly chewy rice vermicelli noodles. The only absence is a gentle spice to offset and balance the dish’s savoury and tart notes.
In comes ginger, a critical ingredient for harmonising the chicken or duck with the broth and noodles in this meal. The peppery, earthy and woody notes of ginger paired with a savoury and sweet fish sauce creates a dipping sauce that also acts as a palate cleanser in between mouthfuls of bamboo noodle soup.
If you’ve never cooked or had the opportunity to indulge in a warm bowl of Vietnamese bamboo noodle soup, do yourself a favour and give this recipe a go to experience the ethereal flavours of Vietnamese noodle soup.
Not sure where to source the ingredients? I’ve got you covered! Check out my Vietnamese chicken and bamboo noodle soup cooking kit (HYPERLINK) to get started!
1.5kg free range chicken at room temperature
½ bunch spring onions
1 brown onion, bottoms cut off
40g ginger, slightly crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Red Boat Anchovy salt or 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
30g rock sugar or 1 ½ teaspoon white sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 bunch coriander roots (optional)
15g dried shrimp (optional)
1 (400-500g) packet ready to use bamboo shoots sliced lengthways
2-3mm thick and rinsed well. (dispose any parts that feel fibrous like lemongrass stalks)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 ½ tablespoon fish sauce
½ bunch spring onion green part finely chopped, white stalk kept whole.
1 tablespoon grated/finely sliced ginger
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
600ml chicken stock or water
1 lime, cut into wedges
Cracked white pepper or black pepper
300-400g thin rice vermicelli noodles
250g bean sprouts*
1 bunch Vietnamese mint or mint
30g fried shallots (optional)
1 bunch perilla leaf (optional)
1 bunch coriander leaves roughly chopped (optional)
1 red chilli (optional)
Ginger dipping sauce
85g ginger, peeled and grated or crushed in mortar and pestle
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons hot water
1 ½ tablespoon fish sauce
Juice from half a Lime Chilli (optional)
Wash the chicken and trim off any excess fat. To poach the chicken, place in a large stock pot and add remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil, simmer on low for 12 mins, then remove the pot from heat and cover for 35 mins. This allows the residual heat to cook the chicken through. Remove cooked chicken and place into a large bowl of cold water for 5-7 mins to stop the cooking process then remove. Shred the dark meat (legs), slice the chicken breast then set aside. Optional: Return chicken frames/bones to the broth and bring to the boil then simmer to enhance its flavour.
In a medium pot, bring water to the boil and add bamboo shoots, then simmer on low-medium for 20 mins then strain well.
In a large cast iron pot or fry pan on medium heat, add cooking oil, garlic, ginger and spring onions stalks and saute until fragrant (2-3mins). Add bamboo shoots along with salt, sugar and fish sauce and stir fry on medium-high for 2-3 mins, then add 600ml chicken stock or water and bring to the boil and simmer on low for 15 mins. Add the entire bamboo mixture to the broth and bring to the boil, then simmer on low for 15 mins. If broth requires more saltiness, add additional fish sauce to your taste.
Bring a large pot of water with a tablespoon of salt to the boil then add thin rice vermicelli and boil on high for 7-8 mins then strain and pour into a large bowl of cold water. Portion out in serving sized bundles immediately into a colander to prevent noodles from sticking together.
To serve, in a large bowl place one bundle of noodles, shredded chicken, a small handful of bean sprouts then pour over enough bamboo broth to cover. Garnish with dried shallots, coriander, spring onions (green part), sliced red chillies and cracked white pepper. Finish with a gentle squeeze of lime. Add additional fish sauce to flavour if required..
If there is leftover stock, store in the fridge over the next few days and boil additional noodles as required. Alternatively keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.