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Rice Noodle Soup with Salmon, Baby Bok Choy, and Shiitake Mushrooms

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Think of this as a salmon pho, the Vietnamese equivalent of comforting and hearty noodle soup usually made with beef. I’ve skipped a few of the traditional salad garnishes to make this a quick, easy weeknight meal in a bowl, but feel free to add a few more garnishes if you like. Sliced green onions and bean sprouts would be good, and pumping up the heat with a little sriacha, a chile purée, will give the soup an extra kick. This soup is especially welcome on a chilly, rainy night, and I always enjoy any leftovers.

Rice noodles are sold primarily in Asian grocery stores, but many well-stocked supermarkets also have them. The noodles used in this recipe are Thai or Vietnamese translucent flat rice stick noodles about ¼ inch wide. The package will be labeled rice stick (ban pho or sen yai).

Dark soy sauce, sometimes labeled “black soy sauce” or “soy superior sauce,” is aged for longer periods than regular soy sauce and usually contains molasses. It adds a distinct and hearty depth of flavor to a dish. My favorite brand is Koon Chun Black Soy. If you can’t find dark soy sauce, substitute 1 tablespoon of regular soy mixed with ½ teaspoon of molasses.

Thai sweet basil (bai horapha) has purplish stems, green leaves, and an aniseed aroma and flavor. It is commonly used in soups, curries, and stir-fried dishes. Though primarily sold in Asian grocery stores, many well-stocked natural foods stores carry Thai basil. Substitute Italian sweet basil if necessary.

Removing Pin Bones

Run your fingertips along the flesh side of the fillet until you feel the pin bones. Using either clean needle-nose pliers (I keep a pair in the kitchen precisely for this use) or fish tweezers, grasp the end of each bone and pull it straight out and away from the flesh to remove it. If you try to pull them upwards or backwards it tends to tear the flesh Suggested wine: German riesling

SERVES6 AS A LIGHT SUPPER

CostModerate

Moderate

Total Timeunder 1 hour

One Pot MealYes

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationhalal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, tree nut free

Mealdinner

Taste and Textureherby, rich, savory, umami

Type of Dishhot soup, soup

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces rice stick noodles (see Notes)
  • 8 large dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1 yellow onion, halved lengthwise and cut into thin wedges
  • 2 serrano chiles, including seeds and ribs, cut into thin rounds
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce (see Notes)
  • 3 star anise pods
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
  • 6 heads baby bok choy, halved lengthwise
  • 1 salmon fillet (1 pound), skin and pin bones removed (see Notes), cut into 6 equal portions
  • ¾ cup loosely packed fresh Thai basil or sweet basil leaves, shredded (see Notes)

Instructions

Place the rice stick noodles in a large bowl and cover completely with hot water. Soak until softened, about 20 minutes. Rinse under warm water, drain, then cover and set aside.

Place the mushrooms in a small container with a tight-fitting lid, fill the container to the top with hot water, and cover. (Using a covered container keeps the mushrooms completely submerged.) Soak the mushrooms until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain, discard the stems, and cut the mushrooms into thin strips. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a 6-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat and swirl to coat the pan. Sauté the garlic, ginger, onion, and chiles until soft but not brown, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, soy sauce, and anise. Reduce the heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Add the carrot and reserved mushrooms and cook until the carrot is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the bok choy and salmon. Simmer just until the salmon is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes longer.

Divide the noodles among 6 heated soup bowls. Ladle the soup over the noodles and top each bowl with a piece of salmon and 2 portions of bok choy. Garnish with the basil and serve immediately.

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