Sometimes I just crave for a bowl of light, tomato-based broth of vermicelli noodle soup. So the infamous Vietnamese escargot noodle soup came to mind. Here you will have a super light and savory broth that's packed with shrimp flavor. The texture is quite nice too with the use of two kinds of escargot for added chewiness and color. Escargot or snails are quite popular in Vietnamese cuisine, so you'll find quite a variety of them, cleaned and ready to serve, look for them in the frozen section of your local Vietnamese markets. Today, I am using Oc Buu (the darker ones) and Oc Huong (the larger and tan colored ones). Super satisfying bowl of vermicelli soup on the way, and it's not too difficult to whip this up with this recipe.
RECIPE for 6 servings.
1/2 lb package of Vietnamese "dark" escargot, Oc Buu, cut into bite size
1/2 lb package of periwinkle, cut into bite size
1/2 lb fish paste, available at local Vietnamese market
Make escargot paste mixture:
Combine well the store-bought fish paste with large handful of chopped "dark" escargot,
1 tsp minced garlic, 1 tbs fish sauce, 1/2 tsp ground pepper
Set aside until ready to drop into the hot soup stock.
3/4 lb large shrimp, deveined and peeled, leave on tail
3 large red tomatoes, quartered
1 large handful of button mushroom, quartered
1 medium white onion, sliced lengthwise, not too thin
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
Mints and vegetables for garnish: fried shallot, chopped green onion, chopped cilantro, bean sprout, cilantro, Vietnamese mints and herbs of choice (purple perilla is a must-have), wedges of lime, Vietnamese water spinach (shredded), and banana blossom (shredded).
3 stalks of lemongrass, white portion only
8 cups of water
2 cans of chicken broth
6 tbs fish sauce, or to taste
4 tbs tom yum paste
1 tbs sugar, or to taste
1 package of vermicilli, prepare according to package
Vietnamese shrimp paste
Sirachi chili sauce
Heat the soup pot on high. Add in 2 tbsp cooking oil then add in onions to saute for a couple of mins. Add a pinch of salt to the onion. Once it's translucent, add in minced garlic and cook for 2 mins.
Then add the "whole" escargots. Quick toss for a couple of mins. Add in 1 tbsp of tom yum paste. Toss them well for a minute. Remove from pot. Keep the sauces still in the pot for the soup portion.
Add the lemongrass, mushroom and tomato to the pot. Then add water and chicken broth. Let it come to a boil.
Use a large soup spoon to spoon in the fish and escargot mix. Drop them in spoon by spoon. They will float to the top of the pot once cooked, which is a couple of mins. then lower heat to med-low.
To further season the soup, add 3 tbsp tom yum paste, 1 tbsp sugar, 4-6 tbsp fish sauce to your liking. Stir to dissolve the seasonings.
Add back in the sauteed escargot.
Fish out the lemongrass stems at this point is optional, as the stems are for seasoning only.
Turn off heat. Add in the shrimp and stir them to the bottom to cook in the hot soup for 2-3 minutes. Ready to serve.
How to assemble the soup bowl:
Prepare a plate of garnishing veggies to serve with the bowl of noodle soup. Include on the plate some perilla, mints, bean sprout, water spinach, banana blossom and wedges of lime.
In a small dipping plate, include a tbsp of shrimp paste and a tsp of siracha
Use a large bowl, place cooked vermicelli noodle on the bottom, then top with a tbsp of cilantro, green onion and fried shallot.
Ladle hot soup over the noodle to include all the contents in the soup pot, including escargot and fish paste, whole escargot, mushroom and tomato wedges. Have enough soup to cover the surface of the noodle.
At the table, guests can add in the veggies of choice as well as to their taste for the siracha and shrimp paste.
I've used the following for this dish: