Hủ Tiếu Chay Vegetarian Noodle Soup – 277 of 365

Because of this…

Some quite pleasant rain cooled morning air pulled me outdoors for a several mile walk.  Something I love about Saigon is that the same street can have so many different faces just depending on the time of the day I pass through.  The area behind my apartment is no exception, and a completely different parade of food vendors hawk their gourmet sidewalk cuisine in the morning than who I usually see in the evening.

Walking past several meat vendors indirectly drove me to this latest breakfast find.  The sight of raw meat hanging from hooks or piled high on metal tables rising out of dirty water puddles is enough to still make me shudder after all these years in Vietnam.  As I watched both flies and conical hat wearing women buzz around one particular mountain of decaying animal parts, I got to thinking this is probably where lunch will come from.  Choi oi!  Oh well, what I don’t know or see can’t hurt me, and so far I haven’t gotten sick.

With visions of bloody meat still dancing around still fresh in my head, I recognized the word “chay” on a cardboard sign.  These simple four letters spelling out “vegetarian” could not have come at a better time.  Yes, please pump my body full of anything that didn’t have fur or feathers now!  Hủ tiếu chay was on offer for just over 50 cents and I maneuvered my six foot frame onto a rickety stool barely load tested for a two year old child.  Seriously, I thought this plastic thing was going to succumb to gravitational forces only exacerbated by my full size American self.

…I ate this.

The sweet hủ tiếu broth was loaded with carrots, potatoes, corn on the cob, bok choy, tofu, some unidentifiable brown thing, and I swear what looked like a slice of pork sausage.  Isn’t this supposed to be vegetarian?  I timidly bit in and lo and behold to the best of my culinary detection skills I think this was some sort of tofu as well.  Without any sort of pork bone flavor infusion the broth was rather lackluster but adding oily chili paste and lime juice brought it up to snuff.

Don’t worry though, I am not at all about to give up meat.  Sometimes I just need a slight detour.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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