Bong Bóng Cá Vietnamese Soup
I never cease to be amazed at the amount of unique food items — fresh, dried or processed — that can be found at ethnic grocery stores. But what’s more amazing are the unfamiliar dishes that one can come up with using these unique ingredients. Every time I visit my favorite Vietnamese store, I always discover an item or two on the shelf or freezer that inspires me to research and discover many wonderful dishes that I never thought even existed.
Such is the case with bong bóng cá, a package of fried fish belly that I found one day. After inquiring from a few of my Vietnamese colleagues, I learned that fried fish belly is commonly used in a popular soup dish. Although there are many variations of this dish, the most common version uses quail eggs and straw mushrooms, mixed with chicken broth and beaten eggs. It reminds me a lot of a favorite soup that I would occasionally have at Chinese restaurants — the egg flower soup. Like I always do, I tweaked the recipe and added an ingredient to my version of bong bóng cá soup — baby corn. I can also see adding baby spinach which I am sure to do the next time around.
6 cups chicken broth
3 pcs large fried Bong bóng cá (fish belly), available packaged from Asian grocery stores
1 8-oz can quail eggs
1 5-0z can straw mushrooms
5-6 pcs baby corn, sliced
2 eggs beaten
1 stem green onions, chopped
Submerge fish belly in cold water and let stand until they become soft. Let it cool before slicing fish belly into bite-sized pieces, then set aside. In a large pot, pour chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium-high heat. Add quail eggs, fish belly, straw mushrooms and baby corn. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add beaten eggs. Stir well. Serve warm in a soup bowl and garnish with green onions.