However, the best part of the meal was a Tomato Egg Drop soup that someone else brought. Everybody loved it so I had to make this soup for my family immediately. It is a very easy tomato flavored broth with minced pork, rich yet light and very tasty. I found it very surprising that you can make such a flavorful soup from just a few ingredients.
Vietnamese Tomato Egg Drop Soup
1 1/2 T Neutral Oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3/4 pound ripe tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped
3/4 t salt
1 1/2 T fish sauce
1/3 pound ground pork
5 1/2 cups water
2 eggs, beaten
Cilantro for garnish
In a 4-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook gently, for about 4 minutes, or until fragrant and soft. Add the tomatoes and salt, cover, and cook for 4 - 6 minutes, or until the tomatoes have collapsed into a thick mixture. Stir occasionally and if necessary, lower the heat to prevent the tomatoes from sticking or scorching.
Uncover and add the fish sauce and pork. Use a spoon to move the pork around the pan so that it breaks up into small pieces. Add the water, raise the heat to high and bring into a boil, using a ladle to skim and discard any scum that rises to the surface. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the flavors have developed and concentrated sufficiently to produce a rich broth. If you are not serving the soup right away, turn off the heat and cover.
Just before serving, return the soup to a simmer. Taste and add extra salt or fish sauce, if necessary. Turn off the heat. Pour the beaten egg into the soup in a wide circle, and then stir gently to break up into chiffonlike pieces. Ladle the soup into a serving bowl. Garnish with the cilantro and a generous sprinkle of pepper and serve.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
1/2 pound thin dried rice noodles, angel hair pasta or somen noodles
12 round rice paper sheets, about 8 inches in diameter
10 Lettuce leaves, cut crosswise into 1-inch strips
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
5 green onions, trimmed, cut into 3/-inch lengths, and then cut lengthwise into thin strips
12 medium shrimp, cooked, peeled, and halved lengthwise
Dipping Sauce of your choice for serving
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Drop in the rice noodles, and remove from the heat. Let stand 8 to 10 minutes, gently lifting and stirring the noodles now and then as they soften to keep them separate and to cook them evenly. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain well, and set aside. You should have about 2 cups of noodles.
Arrange all the ingredients in separate dishes around a large cutting board or tray set before you. Have a large platter ready to hold the finished rolls, and fill a large skillet or shallow bowl with hot water.
To make each roll, slide 1 sheet of paper into the pan of water and press gently to submerge it for about 15 seconds. Remove it carefully, draining the water, and place it before you on the cutting board.
On the bottom of the third of the sheet, line up the following ingredients in a horizontal row: a small tangle of noodles (about 1/4 cup), some lettuce strips, some mint leaves, and some cilantro leaves. Sprinkle green onion slivers on top.
Lift the wrapper nearest to you and roll it up and over the filling, tucking it in under them about halfway along the wrapper and compressing everything gently into a cylindrical shape. When you've completely enclosed the filling in one good turn, fold in the sides tightly, as though making an envelope. Then place 2 shrimp halves, pink side down, on the rice sheet just above the cylinder. Continue rolling up the wrapper and press the seam to close it, wetting with a little splash of water if it has dried out too much to seal itself closed. Set the roll aside on the platter to dry, seam side down. Continue to fill and roll up the rice paper sheets until you have made 8 to 10 rolls. Set aside.
To serve, present the rolls whole, or cut them in half crosswise - straight or on the diagonal. Or trim away the ends and cut into bite-size lengths.