Mì Vịt Tiềm Braised Duck and Noodles – 331 of 365

Mì Vịt Tiềm

In Saigon a metal serving cart with skinned ducks hanging upside down is nothing worthy of stopping traffic.  This scene plays out anywhere and everywhere but my dinner plate.  That is until this meal in Binh Thanh District at 84 Nguyen Van Loc Street landed duck right before me.  I worked up the courage to try mì vịt tiềm or braised duck leg with egg noodles.  Donald Duck is definitely not one of my more favorite foods, but in the name of research this meal steaming before me begged consumption.

The duck lady came over to my table all in a panic I wasn’t yet eating and motioned for me to remove the braised duck leg from the broth and place it on the plate.  This piping hot bowl of foul was throwing off copious amounts of steam into air already heavy and wet from the off and on rain deluges.  Some people (me) like their food a few degrees south of boiling so I just wanted to patiently let things cool.

While waiting for things to reach a less mouth searing temperature, I got to thinking.  Why not just serve the chicken on a separate plate in the first place?   As I pondered these strange mysteries of Vietnam, she just reached into my soup bowl to fish out the duck remains and tossed it all on the plate.  I give up!  Only in Vietnam.

Peeling back the skin revealed some dark meat I greedily scraped off the bone with a spoon.   Yes, I know.  You are scratching your heads wondering why I used a spoon.  The choices were chopsticks, a spoon or my fingers to cull what little edible meat there was from the greasy slab.  Naturally the skin was gelatinous and stretchy and underneath resided a full layer of fat.  But this wasn’t just any fat.  This was fat with the consistency of mayonnaise mixed with wet toilet paper.

What little duck I did eat was very good though.  I just wish there had been enough of it.  Adding the pickled mango slices and mixture of hoisin, hot oil and hot sauce elevated the taste journey just that much more.  Spooning some of the sauce mix to the broth was just perfect as well.  The soup had a hint of sweetness and a hint of soy sauce and I know I tasted licorice and star anise in there.

Duck lady seemed once again upset but now because I left behind the more “choice” cuts of the bird.  She motioned for me to eat the fat and skin.  I must have looked like a 4 year old kid at the dinner table being forced to eat, and of course now I had attracted an audience.  I can report that peer pressure does work wonders for I lifted a small glob of this shimmering bird product to my mouth and bit in.  Everyone now seemed satisfied and went back to their business.  I used this break from their surveillance of my eating habits to pay and quickly depart.

All in all, I really liked this one.  The soup was great, the noodles perfectly cooked and the watercress crisp.  Just add some more of the actual duck meat and I’d be all over this one time and time again.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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