It may look like a long list of ingredients, but it's really an easy and straightforward recipe! And remember, ALL components of this dish can be made in advance and stored in the fridge. And once everything is prepped, all you have to do is assemble which takes minutes. That's how noodle vendors in Thailand can serve you this dish so quickly! In fact, if you make all the components on the weekend, boat noodles can be a quick weeknight meal.
But even if you're not going to make anything in advance, you can prep all of the components while the broth is simmering. So it's really not going to take as long as you think.
Here are some storage tips:
- Garlic oil & fried garlic. Keep the oil and the garlic separately so the garlic stays crisp. Keep any extra oil in the fridge, it's a simple way to add garlic flavour to any dish! Depending on the oil you use, it might solidify in the fridge; this is normal, simply warm it up or let it come to room temp before using.
- Chili vinegar. This keeps in the fridge indefinitely, and I always have a little bottle of it in my fridge. It's a great condiment to add brightness and a little heat for dishes that are rich and heavy such as braises and stews.
- Broth. The broth will keep for up to a week in the fridge, and it will also freeze.
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Components of Boat Noodles
- Broth (recipe below)
- 7 oz. (200 g) rice noodles, dry, small size
- 12 pork or beef balls (optional)
- Marinated pork (recipe below)
- 2 cups spinach, water spinach, or other vegetable of your choice
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- ½ cup beef or pork blood, thawed (1-2 Tbsp per person), or substitute coconut milk
- Fried garlic & garlic oil (see recipe)
- ½ cup cilantro or green onions, chopped
- Thai basil or holy basil (optional)
- Crispy pork rind (optional)
- Chili flakes (to taste, optional)
- Chili vinegar (optional but recommended, recipe below)
- 3 L water
- 2 lb pork or beef/veal bones
- top half of 1 stalk of lemongrass
- 1 medium onion, rough chopped
- 2-3 cilantro roots, crushed or 6-8 stems
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed
- 10 pc galangal
- 1 pandan leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 1 tsp toasted coriander seeds
- ¼ tsp white pepper, ground
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp Golden Mountain Sauce
- 1.5 Tbsp black soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp Tao jiew or fermented soy bean paste, mashed (can substitute 1.5 Tbsp miso paste)
- 2 Tbsp white vinegar
- 20 g. rock sugar or granulated sugar
- 1-2 tsp of salt, to taste
- 200g pork loin, thinly sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- ½ tsp sugar
- 2 spur chilies, or any other kind of medium-spicy chilies such as jalapenos, serranos, or fresno. For extra spicy vinegar, you can add Thai chilies or use habaneros.
- 2 cloves garlic
- White vinegar, ¼-½ cup as needed
For the Marinated Pork:
- Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for 2 hours or until ready to use.
For the Broth:
- Add pork bones and water to a large stock pot, making sure the bones are completely submerged. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, skim off the scum that has floated to the top.
- Add all remaining broth ingredients except salt, and simmer for 1 more hour. While the broth is simmering, make the chili vinegar and soak the noodles (instructions below).
- When the broth is done, taste and adjust seasoning with salt as needed. If it's too salty, add more water to dilute. Remember to season the broth strongly as it will be diluted by the noodles and the vegetables.
- Strain the broth, and it is now ready to use. You can make the broth in advance and store in the fridge for several days. Tip: If there is a lot of meat on the bones, you can pick it off and enjoy it with your soup!
For the Chili Vinegar:
- Broil the chilies and the garlic cloves in the oven until the chilies are charred and the garlic cloves are browned. You can also grill them or pan sear them.
- Roughly chop the chilies and transfer to a small blender, along with the garlic, and cover with just enough white vinegar to easily blend.
- Blend until there are no more big chunks, adding more vinegar if it seems too thick. If you don't have a blender, you can also pound the chilies and garlic in a mortar and pestle into a paste, then stir in vinegar.
For the Noodles:
- Soak the noodles in cold water just until they are soft and pliable, 10-15 minutes for small size rice noodles ("sen lek"), 5 minutes for thin rice noodles ("sen mee").
- Drain the noodles once they are soft and keep in the fridge, wrapped, until ready to use. If you let drained noodles sit uncovered they will dry out; if this happens, just soak them again briefly to rehydrate.
- Bring a large pot of water to a full boil; this is for blanching noodles.
- While the blanching water is coming to a boil, bring the broth (about 1 cup per person) to a simmer in a covered pot and keep hot and covered until ready to use. Do not let the broth boil uncovered as you do not want it to reduce further
- Put 1 portion of noodles, bean sprouts, and spinach into a noodle strainer or sieve and blanch in the boiling water for 5 seconds. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl. (Note: I recommend blanching 1 portion at a time as it is difficult to separate noodles after they're blanched.)
- Add a little garlic oil to the noodles and toss to prevent them from sticking together. Repeat with the remaining portions.
- Add the meatballs to the broth and bring to a boil, then add the marinated pork and stir to cook.
- Once the pork is cooked, stir in the blood (About 1 Tbsp per cup of broth), making sure you stir while adding to prevent big clumps.
- Pour the broth over the noodles.
- Top the soup with crispy fried garlic and cilantro. Serve with chili vinegar, Thai basil, crispy pork rind (optional), and chili flakes.