I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Canh. If you were to name this soup in the American vernacular, it would be "Vietnamese Meatball Soup". But my blog title is "The Wrath of Canh". So why is Canh pissed off? Because Pho, Canh's big brother, gets all of the attention when it comes to Vietnamese soup.
But making really good Pho is laborious. We're talking lots of hours in terms of getting the broth right and hand assembling the ingredients. And that's why Canh is pissed off. This soup is every bit as delicious as Pho, but it comes together in just about 30 minutes. So yes, Pho is the flashy big brother that wows the fans, but if you want a great Vietnamese soup that makes for a quick weeknight meal, look no further.
I made this last Wednesday for Becky and our friend Steve Hirtz. The recipe belongs to Soben Pin. I found it in the latest edition of "Milk Street" magazine. Milk Street was founded by Christopher Kimball, the former editor of Cook's Illustrated. Cook's Illustrated was recently acquired and the new owners dispatched Mr. Kimball, who fortunately decided to take his bat and ball and find another ball field to play on. Welcome to Milk Street.
The flavors are spectacular! A triumphant reunion of Vietnam's best: fish sauce, ginger, garlic and lime juice. The addition of the peppery watercress is pure genius. And oh, those meatballs! The trick to the meatballs is to make them ahead of time and then chill them in the fridge...that way they will hold together when you cook them in the soup. But frying or roasting them is always an option as well.
1 pound of ground pork
6 scallions, white parts finely chopped, green parts thinly sliced and reserved separately
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
4 teaspoons grated ginger, divided
Kosher salt and ground white pepper
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 quarts chicken broth
1 bunch watercress, cut into 1-1/2" lengths
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment and mist with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine the pork, scallion whites, egg white, 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce, 2 teaspoons of the ginger, 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt and 1 teaspoon white pepper. Mix with your hands. Lightly moisten your hands with water and form into 20 balls, each about a generous tablespoon, and set on the prepared baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate.
- In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons ginger and the garlic, then cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the broth and bring to a boil over high. Reduce to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the onion is fully softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add the meatballs, bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook undisturbed for 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in the watercress and remaining 2 tablespoons fish sauce. Let stand until the greens are wilted and tender, about 1 minute. Stir in the lime juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then stir in the scallion greens.
Wine pairing: This is a spicy soup and it begs for a big, fruity Zin to offset it. If you feel like splurging, it honestly doesn't get any better than a Rombauer Zinfandel. A bottle of that perfection will set you back $27.97 at Total Wine. But if you are saving up your hard earned dollars to buy a Lamborghini, pick a Rosenblum Zinfandel Vinter's Cuvee that will only put a $7.99 dent in your wallet.
|Me and Goldie, 1956|